UHRICHSVILLE — The Miami Trace Panthers wrestling team had 12 District qualifiers coming off their win of the Sectional tournament.
Out of those 12, nine competed at the District and two have advanced to take part in this week’s State tournament at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Miami Trace sophomore Weston Melvin (113) and Miami Trace senior Storm Duffy (138) will each be making their State debut.
Melvin (46-8) will face senior Rico Cunningham (35-4) of Sandusky High School in the first round.
Duffy (24-10) will take on sophomore Nic Willingham (32-8) of Aurora High School in his first round match.
Miami Trace junior Graham Carson placed fifth at 145 pounds to become a State-alternate.
Melvin went 3-1 at the District, placing second, to improve his season record to 46-8.
Melvin opened with a 9-0 major decision over Jack Osborn of Dover.
In the quarterfinals, Melvin won a 2-1 decision over Cole Coleman of Warren.
In the semifinals, Melvin posted a 12-2 major decision win over Todd Elliott of Gallia Academy.
In the championship match, Melvin was pinned by Cael Woods of West Holmes in 42 seconds.
“Getting second was pretty good for me,” Melvin said. “After coming off (placing) fifth last year (at Districts).
“I worked really hard this year,” Melvin said. “I thought I would be going to State. I just didn’t know how the brackets would play out and they played out exactly right for me. I’m going to go there and work as hard as I can. I hope to go there and place; wrestle all these good kids and figure out what I need to do and work on for next year and just improve off that.”
Freshman Aiden Johnson finished 1-2 at the District meet.
Johnson lost in the first round to Mark Emmerling of Lisbon Beaver, by a 16-1 technical fall.
In the first round of consolation matches, Johnson pinned Hayden Wiggers of Warren in 2:58.
In the second consolation round, Johnson was pinned by Eric Reed of Cambridge in 1:45.
Johnson ends the season with a record of 24-23.
Duffy went 3-2 at the District meet.
In the first round, Duffy pinned Darian Congleton of Warren in 26 seconds.
In the quarterfinals, Duffy lost an 8-5 decision to Cole McComas of Lisbon Beaver.
In the second consolation round, Duffy won a 15-0 tech fall over Ethan Burns of McClain.
In the consolation semifinals, Duffy earned a 4-0 decision over Isaiah Armstrong of Tri-Valley.
In the match for third and fourth place, Duffy lost a tech fall (20-5) to Caden Stout of St. Clairsville.
Duffy is now 24-10.
“Friday night we got really good news,” Duffy said. “I wasn’t really projected to make it out and one of the kids that was ended up not passing for the skin infection. It seemed like the door opened up for me to get out and we took full advantage of that opportunity and we ended up making it out.
“I’m just taking this tournament the same way I have the whole year,” Duffy said. “This is my senior season. I just have to learn to wrestle with nothing to lose. I’m just going to go out there and let it all out and have fun, because it’s going to be my last opportunity.”
“The State tournament is what we train for,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “A lot of the kids have a goal and that’s to make the State tournament. So, we train to perform well at the District tournament in order to qualify for State.
“There are some upper-tier guys that, their goal is to actually place at State,” Fondale said.
“Probably the hardest part about coaching is, watching some seniors fall a little bit short of their goals after pouring their heart and soul into the sport for a long time,” Fondale said. “That’s the hardest part for me, as a coach, watching my seniors end their wrestling career. And sometimes ending it not in the way they had hoped.”
Some of those to which Fondale referred were Dawson Wallace, David Tyndall and Grant DeBruin.
“We lost three good seniors at the District tournament,” Fondale said. “That’s the really rough part about that weekend.
“Another rough part is Graham Carson not quite making the State tournament,” Fondale said. “He fell little bit short of his goal.
“Some of the good things included Weston Melvin, probably wrestling better than he had all year,” Fondale said. “(The District) tournament is the time to do that. He was able to reach one of his goals that he’s had since the end of last season. I’m glad he could perform well at the District tournament.
“Storm Duffy, who’s been wrestling since forever, has just been a consistent point-scorer for us,” Fondale said. “He saw that he had an opportunity. He knew he had to wrestle well and wrestle to his potential and that’s exactly what he did. He was another wrestler who reached his goal.
“Now he’s reset his goal and now he’s going to try to place at State,” Fondale said. “This is his senior year and there is no reason not to go all-out.”
Junior Graham Carson finished 3-2 at the District, placing fifth to become a State-alternate.
Carson won his first match by major decision, 14-3 over Alex Niner of Tri-Valley.
In the quarterfinals, Carson won a 4-3 decision over Nathan Blake of Carrollton.
In the semifinals, Carson lost a 2-1 decision to Devon Salsberry of Lisbon Beaver.
In the consolation semifinals, Carson lost 3-1 to Aaron Ferguson of Steubenville.
In the match for fifth and sixth place, Carson’s opponent, Nathan Welsh of Fairfield Union, was disqualified.
Carson is now 43-11 on the season.
Senior Dawson Wallace (170) went 0-2 at the District.
Wallace lost his first round match to Layne Talbot of New Lexington by pin in 1:13.
In the first consolation round, Wallace was pinned by Kohl Clark of Union Local.
Wallace finishes the season with a record of 13-29.
Junior Treven Shoemaker went 0-2 at the District meet at 182 pounds.
Shoemaker lost his opening round match by pin to David Tuttle of Steubenville in 39 seconds.
Shoemaker lost in the first round of consolation matches, 8-6 to Jeff Longhenry of New Lexington.
Shoemaker finishes with a record of 2-7.
Sophomore Bryce Bennett (195) won his opening round match by default.
In the quarterfinals, Bennett lost to Drake George of Athens, 3-1.
In the second round of consolation matches, Bennett pinned Brandon Toner of New Lexington is 4:05.
In his third match, Bennett lost 8-2 to Logan Williams of Minerva.
Bennett finishes the 2019-20 season with a record of 38-17.
Senior David Tyndall (220) went 0-2 at the District tournament.
In the first round, Tyndall lost a 5-2 decision to Nick Jones of Carrollton.
In the first consolation round, Tyndall lost 8-5 to Skylar Anderson of West Holmes.
Tyndall finishes the year with a record of 15-15.
Senior Grant DeBruin (285) went 2-3 at the District, placing sixth.
In his first-round match, DeBruin pinned Will Aubiel of Claymont in 2:58.
In the quarterfinals, DeBruin pinned Peyton Tuttle of Steubenville in 1:15.
In the semifinals, DeBruin was pinned by Jarrett Burress of Minerva in 1:15.
In the consolation semifinals, Daniel Wirth of Lisbon Beaver pinned DeBruin in 1:24.
In the match for fifth and sixth place, DeBruin was pinned by Dylan Wogerman of Athens in 3:43.
Three Panthers who qualified to the District tournament did not get to wrestle for various reasons: freshman Aaron Little (126), junior Shane Seymour (132) and sophomore Jayden LeBeau (160).
“If you want to be a competitive team, you never want to be completely satisfied,” Fondale said. “The kids worked hard. There were a lot of smaller goals that we were able to reach during the season, such as Sectional champ, FAC champ, making it to the team State (duals).
“The kids know that their hard work did pay off,” Fondale said. “But, I think our underclassmen also know that there is always more work to do. There’s more room to improve. We’re not going to lower our standards or any of our goals for next year. If anything, we should be a little bit better than we were this year, as far as sending guys to State, or placing higher at the team State, or maybe winning the league tournament by more points.
“Yes, we’re losing a lot of great seniors,” Fondale said. “We also have a lot of young guys that we’re expecting a lot of. They also expect a lot from themselves and their teammates. It’s about realizing that we reached a lot of goals, but, there’s no reason to be satisfied.
“(After State) we have a little bit of time to re-calibrate and relax and just kind of put wrestling on the shelf for a little bit,” Fondale said. “Play other sports, spend some time in the weight room, go to some open mats. But, it won’t be too long before our younger guys are right back at it; training and drilling and getting their mindset ready for next year.”
Carson and DeBruin both earned their 100th career victory at the District tournament.
Earlier in the season, Duffy reached his 100th career victory, as did junior Mcale Callahan, who was unable to wrestle late in the season after qualfying to State as a sophomore.
“That’s a nice milestone for those guys to reach,” Fondale said.