For the third time in the past four seasons, Miami Trace’s wrestling team will be heading to the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) team wrestling State tournament.
The tournament is Sunday at St. John Arena at The Ohio State University.
The Panthers won the Regional tournament they hosted Saturday (Region No. 14), going 3-0 in dual matches held at Miami Trace High School.
The Panthers were the No. 1 seed in the tournament, which consisted of a total of 12 teams.
Miami Trace had a bye and began competing in the quarterfinals with a match against Logan Elm.
The Panthers beat the Braves, 51-23.
In the semifinals, Miami Trace went up against Blanchester. The Panthers won this match, 45-34.
In the finals, the Panthers went up against former SCOL rivals Wilmington.
The Panthers beat the Hurricane, 37-24 to win the Regional championship.
At the State, Miami Trace is seeded seventh out of eight teams. The Panthers will face the team from Aurora (No. 2 seed) at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. The winner of that match advances to take on the winner of the match between St. Paris Graham (No. 3 seed) and West Holmes (No. 6 seed).
The other Division II teams competing at State are Louisville (No. 1 seed), Hamilton Ross (No. 8 seed), Bellevue (No. 5 seed) and Sandusky Perkins (No. 4 seed).
“We saw Logan Elm earlier in the year,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “They’re a well-coached team. Their 113-pounder was (out sick). He’s challenged our 113-pounder (Weston Melvin) in the past. We knew we had to be ready to wrestle.
“We had not seen Blanchester,” Fondale said. “From our research and our just looking up their previous results from dual meets and tournaments, we didn’t know much about them. It was about halfway through the dual, they were beating us. They have a bunch of solid kids. Their kids looked strong. We were on the edge of our seats a little bit. Jayden LeBeau’s pin (at 170) was probably the turning point.
“Wilmington was in our league a couple of years ago and they were a solid team then,” Fondale said. “They’re still a solid team. That was the kind of team we were prepared for. We expected them to be a No. 2 or a No. 3 seed. (Wilmington was seeded No. 2.) They matched up pretty well against us as far as weight classes. Our kids knew they had to bring it and Wilmington had a lot of tough kids. We had a target on our back and Wilmington was coming for us hard. They really wanted to make it to the State tournament. They are well-coached.
“Wilmington has some good, young kids and some senior leaders,” Fondale said. “The biggest match all day was probably Stephen Lehr’s match (182 pounds). It was kind of the nail in the coffin. He was down 11-3 at one point. He fought off his back about three times. He found a way to get the Wilmington kid a little bit tired and he then he ended up pinning him (in 4:45). Our kids and our fans went crazy. That was late in the dual meet.”
Miami Trace was leading Wilmington, 22-18 as the teams swapped the lead back and forth.
Lehr’s pin gave the Panthers a 28-18 lead.
A pin by Wilmington at 195 pounds put the score at 28-24.
Bryce Bennett won a 6-0 decision at 220 pounds to give the Panthers a 31-24 lead and Grant DeBruin picked up six points when Wilmington did not have a heavyweight for the final 37-24.
“We had some freshmen come up with some big matches and get some wins for us,” Fondale said. “They knew going into the day that they were going to have some close matches where it could go either way. Fortunately, our younger guys were able to win most of those matches. Our older guys were able to get pins where they needed them. Our kids fought off their backs, didn’t give up very many pins; when we got them on their backs, we did what we had to do to get the pin.”
What about expectations for the State tournament?
“One thing that we try to pride ourselves on is just going out and being tough,” Fondale said. “Our technique is decent and we’re in pretty good shape and we keep coming at you. Sometimes we can even beat the better wrestlers, because we’re in better shape and we’re meaner.
“Our goal is just to go up there and compete,” Fondale said. “Wrestle for the whole six minutes, don’t back up, always go forward and compete and that’s for this Sunday.”
“We beat Gallia Academy, who has a very young squad,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “We wrestled them in the first round last year.
“They were the 11 seed and we were the sixth seed,” Reid said. “We knew that we should win that dual. We talked about being laser-focused. Our guys did a good job. We won every match that we actually wrestled in that dual. We won 73-6. The only match we lost was a forfeit at 145. It was a good start for us.
“That kind of set us up going into the second match against Jackson,” Reid said. “Jackson beat us 50-24 back in December. We’ve had a lot of line-up changes. We’ve got some kids down to weight where they should be. Some kids are wrestling a lot better now. We ended up losing that one, 37-34. It came down to the last two matches.
“If we would’ve had some other things go the other way for us, we could have pulled that off,” Reid said. “The fact that we closed the gap that much, shows how much our guys have improved from December until now. We were off four days last week. We were really concerned as a coaching staff how that was going to affect our guys. Our guys showed a lot of resilience in that Jackson match. They’ve been wrestling well. They’ve won just about everywhere. I think they only have one or two dual meet losses. They’re a really good, senior-heavy squad.
“We have 10 underclassmen in our line-up and three seniors, so, we’re very young,” Reid said. “We have a kid who is working his way down to 145 and we should have a full line-up for league. This really sets us up for league.
“I’m really happy with our effort,” Reid said. “All of our seniors — Collier Brown, Chase Sluder and Kalub Wilkerson — went 2-0 today. They wrestled really well. I’m very pleased with it.”
Washington has one more Frontier Athletic Conference dual meet, that is Thursday at Washington High School at 6 p.m. against Hillsboro. It will be senior night. The Blue Lions then will go to Canal Winchester for a tournament Saturday.
The FAC meet is being held at Washington High School Saturday, Feb. 22 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Washington 73, Gallia Academy 6
106 Ian Roush 9 (WCH Washington) pin Nate Yongue 9 (Gallia Academy) 3:59 6
113 Bryce Warner 10 (WCH Washington) pin Todd Elliott 10 (Gallia Academy) 2:31 6
120 Branton Dawes 10 (WCH Washington) dec. Garytt Schwall 10 (Gallia Academy) md15-5 4
126 Coty Brown 9 (WCH Washington) pin Conrad Berkley 11 (Gallia Academy) 0:31 6
132 Josiah Whitt 9 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Gallia Academy) Forfeit 6
138 Zaigne Fettig 9 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Gallia Academy) Forfeit 6
145 Jayden Dunlap 10 (Gallia Academy) forfeit (WCH Washington) Forfeit 6
152 Connor Day 9 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Gallia Academy) Forfeit 6
160 Kaleb Wilkerson 12 (WCH Washington) dec. Bronson Carter 10 (Gallia Academy) Dec 7-6 3
170 Jared Kuhn 11 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Gallia Academy) Forfeit 6
182 Dylan Moore 11 (WCH Washington) pin Chris Moore 9 (Gallia Academy) 0:43 6
195 Chase Sluder 12 (WCH Washington) pin Gabriel Raynor 9 (Gallia Academy) 0:25 6
220 Collier Brown 12 (WCH Washington) pin Corbin Walker 12 (Gallia Academy) 1:50 6
285 Mason Mustain 10 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Gallia Academy) Forfeit 6
Miami Trace 51, Logan Elm 23
106 Logan Laux 10 (Logan Elm) pin Titus Lehr 11 (Miami Trace) 0:36 6
113 Weston Melvin 10 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Logan Elm) Forfeit 6
120 Aiden Johnson 9 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Logan Elm) Forfeit 6
126 Aaron Little 9 (Miami Trace) dec. Brady Allen 9 (Logan Elm) Dec 10-7 3
132 Blake Holzschuh 12 (Logan Elm) dec. Jared Seymour 10 (Miami Trace) md16-3 4
138 Storm Duffy 12 (Miami Trace) pin Trey Haupt 10 (Logan Elm) 0:46 6
145 Dylan Hartranft 12 (Logan Elm) dec. Vincent Munro 9 (Miami Trace) Dec 4-0 3
152 Graham Carson 11 (Miami Trace) pin Eric Matzenbach 11 (Logan Elm) 0:56 6
160 Kylan Knapp 10 (Miami Trace) pin Andrew Burns 10 (Logan Elm) 2:57 6
170 Luke Linton 12 (Logan Elm) dec. Jayden Lebeau 10 (Miami Trace) md12-3 4
182 Hayden Baer 10 (Logan Elm) pin Dawson Wallace 12 (Miami Trace) 0:28 6
195 Bryce Bennett 10 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Logan Elm) Forfeit 6
220 David Tyndall 12 (Miami Trace) pin Paden Brown 10 (Logan Elm) 1:49 6
285 Grant DeBruin 12 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Logan Elm) Forfeit 6
Jackson 37, Washington 34
106 Ian Roush 9 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Jackson) Forfeit 6
113 Gavin Malone 10 (Jackson) dec. Bryce Warner 10 (WCH Washington) md15-2 4
120 Branton Dawes 10 (WCH Washington) dec. Austin VanAllen 12 (Jackson) Dec 7-5 3
126 Blake Sheeter 9 (Jackson) dec. Coty Brown 9 (WCH Washington) Dec 6-3 3
132 Josiah Whitt 9 (WCH Washington) pin Hayden Fliehman 9 (Jackson) 2:50 6
138 Cody Brown 10 (Jackson) pin Zaigne Fettig 9 (WCH Washington) 3:45 6
145 Ethan Rasp (Jackson) forfeit (WCH Washington) Forfeit 6
152 Joey Richison 12 (Jackson) pin Connor Day 9 (WCH Washington) 3:59 6
160 Kaleb Wilkerson 12 (WCH Washington) dec. Aaron Whisler 12 (Jackson) md17-8 4
170 Brice Parks 12 (Jackson) pin Jared Kuhn 11 (WCH Washington) 0:18 6
182 Anthony Parks 12 (Jackson) pin Dylan Moore 11 (WCH Washington) 0:54 6
195 Chase Sluder 12 (WCH Washington) def. David Strong 11 (Jackson) Default 6
220 Collier Brown 12 (WCH Washington) dec. Aaron Causey 12 (Jackson) Dec 6-1 3
285 Mason Mustain 10 (WCH Washington) forfeit (Jackson) Forfeit 6
Miami Trace 45, Blanchester 34
106 Hunter Smith 9 (Blanchester) pin Titus Lehr 11 (Miami Trace) 1:23 6
113 Weston Melvin 10 (Miami Trace) dec. Jacob Hamm 10 (Blanchester) tf18-2 5
120 Aiden Johnson 9 (Miami Trace) pin Dylan Short 9 (Blanchester) 0:54 6
126 Carson Curless 9 (Blanchester) dec. Aaron Little 9 (Miami Trace) md12-4 4
132 Gage Berwanger 11 (Blanchester) pin Shane Seymour 11 (Miami Trace) 1:34 6
138 Storm Duffy 12 (Miami Trace) pin Johnny Schirmer 12 (Blanchester) 3:18 6
145 Vincent Munro 9 (Miami Trace) pin Andrew Frump 12 (Blanchester) 5:25 6
152 Zane Panetta 10 (Blanchester) pin Kylan Knapp 10 (Miami Trace) 4:57 6
160 Graham Carson 11 (Miami Trace) dec. Gage Huston 11 (Blanchester) md16-3 4
170 Jayden Lebeau 10 (Miami Trace) pin Colt Conover 11 (Blanchester) 2:48 6
182 Kadin Berwanger 12 (Blanchester) pin Dawson Wallace 12 (Miami Trace) 1:29 6
195 Bryce Bennett 10 (Miami Trace) pin Cody Kidd 9 (Blanchester) 1:07 6
220 James Peters 12 (Blanchester) forfeit (Miami Trace) Forfeit 6
285 Grant DeBruin 12 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Blanchester) Forfeit 6
Miami Trace 37, Wilmington 24
106 Jaden Snyder 9 (Wilmington) pin Titus Lehr 11 (Miami Trace) 1:07 6
113 Weston Melvin 10 (Miami Trace) pin Thane McCoy 9 (Wilmington) 3:59 6
120 Aiden Johnson 9 (Miami Trace) dec. Carson Hibbs 9 (Wilmington) Dec 9-6 3
126 Donovan Butler 12 (Wilmington) dec. Aaron Little 9 (Miami Trace) md13-3 4
132 Shane Seymour 11 (Miami Trace) dec. Lee Lynch 10 (Wilmington) Dec 8-3 3
138 Dominic Davidson 12 (Wilmington) dec. Storm Duffy 12 (Miami Trace) Dec 9-7 3
145 Sam Eastes 12 (Wilmington) dec. Vincent Munro 9 (Miami Trace) tf22-7 5
152 Kylan Knapp 10 (Miami Trace) dec. Logan Salatin 10 (Wilmington) md12-3 4
160 Graham Carson 11 (Miami Trace) dec. Dalton Garrison 12 (Wilmington) Dec 6-4 3
170 Jayden Lebeau 10 (Miami Trace) dec. Kile Holland 12 (Wilmington) Dec 14-7 3
182 Stephen Lehr 9 (Miami Trace) pin Jevon Bays-King 11 (Wilmington) 4:45 6
195 Logan Current 11 (Wilmington) pin David Tyndall 12 (Miami Trace) 0:59 6
220 Bryce Bennett 10 (Miami Trace) dec. Jayden Doyle 10 (Wilmington) Dec 6-0 3
285 Grant DeBruin 12 (Miami Trace) forfeit (Wilmington) Forfeit 6