The Miami Trace Panthers won the Division II Sectional wrestling tournament held Saturday, Feb. 29 at Washington High School.
The Panthers finished with 221 team points.
Washington was second with 197.5 points.
McClain was fifth with 112 points and Hillsboro was seventh out of nine teams with 67 points.
Miami Trace had 12 wrestlers qualify to this week’s District tournament.
The Panthers had four Sectional champions: Weston Melvin (113), Storm Duffy (138), Jayden LeBeau (160) and Grant DeBruin (285).
Graham Carson placed second at 145 pounds and Bryce Bennett was second at 195 pounds.
Aiden Johnson (120), Aaron Little (126), Shane Seymour (132) and David Tyndall (220) all placed third and Dawson Wallace (170) and Treven Shoemaker (182) placed fourth.
Titus Lehr (106) placed fifth and is a District alternate.
“We have 12 District qualifiers out of 13,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “Our 152 was sick today and wasn’t able to wrestle.
“I don’t know if that’s the most (District qualifiers) we’ve had at Trace,” Fondale said. “That’s the most as a head coach that I probably ever had, over the last four or five years.
“LeBeau pulled off a win at the very end there,” Fondale said. LeBeau pinned Washington’s Kalub Wilkerson in 5:39. “That was a fun match to watch.”
Fondale also spoke about DeBruin’s opponent in the finals, Washington’s Mason Mustain.
“(Mustain’s) another good kid,” Fondale said. “He’s a strong kid with a good record. It was an exciting match. We knew it was going to be another tough match, DeBruin versus Mustain. DeBruin was down early in the match. In the third period is usually when Grant is at his strongest. He kept going forward. He got a couple of stall calls.
“(Winning the Sectional) was absolutely one of our goals starting at the beginning of the season,” Fondale said. “We almost had everybody healthy. We had one guy out of the lineup (Kylan Knapp). Overall, we were healthy, we were focused. Our guys knew what they had to do to get the job done.
“We spoke to the seniors, ‘wrestle like it could be potentially your last tournament,’” Fondale said. “‘Don’t hold anything back. As a coaching staff, we’ll come out and carry you off the mat if we have to.’ We wanted them to use all their energy in their matches.
“We had a couple of guys step in the line-up for us and they became District qualifiers,” Fondale said. “Dawson Wallace, one of his goals was to be a District qualifier. Treven Shoemaker wrestled up a weight class. He had a good week of practice. He made some sacrifices for the team. Now he’s a District qualifier.
“Titus Lehr, a junior, is a District alternate,” Fondale said. “Aiden Johnson took third place. He picked up two pins to score a lot of team points. Aaron Little had a couple of pins and brought in some team points.
“Graham Carson had a good finals match against a tough kid from Fairfield Union (Nathan Welsh),” Fondale said.
Carson has 99 career wins. He’ll look for No. 100 at the District tournament.
“Bryce Bennett was also a runner-up,” Fondale said. “That was the third time this season Bryce had wrestled (Timothy) Diamond (of Unioto). Diamond beat him the first time, then Bryce beat him. The score (7-3) doesn’t actually do it justice (as to) how close the match was. We had two almost take-downs. We just let up at the last second and weren’t able to finish them. At this level, you have to finish your take-downs. Against a good kid like Diamond, you can’t let up, even for a split second.
“David Tyndall was able to get third place for us,” Fondale said. “He had a really good showing.”
As for how many Panthers might make it to State from the District, Fondale said:
“We have a chance to get five, or maybe a couple more out. It just depends how we wrestle. It depends on how good our practices are (this week). We’ll probably focus on being very precise with our take-downs and making sure we finish our take-downs. Being explosive on bottom. When you go up north, you’re going to have some good competition as top wrestlers. There are going to be some good top wrestlers up there.
“We’re really going to have to focus on bottom,” Fondale said. “And make sure we can get to the neutral position and back to our take-downs.”
The Division II District wrestling tournament is being held this year at Claymont High School in Tuscarawas County. It’s approximately halfway between Cambridge and Canton near New Philadelphia.
District first-round match-ups:
113 – Weston Melvin (10) (43-7) vs. Jack Osborn (10) Dover (24-18)
120 – Aiden Johnson (9) (23-21) vs. Mark Emmerling (10) Lisbon Beaver (29-10)
126 – Aaron Little (9) (13-19) vs. Austin Philabaum (11) River View (28-14)
132 – Shane Seymour (11) (9-10) vs. Tucker Kaufman (10) West Holmes (39-12)
138 – Storm Duffy (12) (20-8) vs. Darian Congleton (9) Warren (12-20)
145 – Graham Carson (11) (41-9) vs. Joey Richison (12) Jackson (39-7)
160 – Jayden LeBeau (10) (28-12) vs. Payson Day (9) Philo (5-8)
170 – Dawson Wallace (12) (13-27) vs. Layne Talbot (12) New Lexington (47-3)
182 – Treven Shoemaker (11) (2-5) vs. David Tuttle (12) Steubenville (31-5)
195 – Bryce Bennett (10) (36-15) vs. Wyatt Shaw (9) Claymont (36-6)
220 – David Tyndall (12) (15-13) vs. Titan Blair (12) New Lexington (20-15)
285 – Grant DeBruin (12) (39-8) vs. Will Aubiel (12) Claymont (22-17)