The Washington Blue Lions once again hosted the Division II Sectional wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 26.
It’s the first of two stops along the way for wrestlers striving for State tournament qualification.
Those contestants who place in the top four at the Sectional earn advancement to the District tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Gallia Academy High School.
At that level, the top teams from three other Sectional tournaments will battle it out for another top four placement that would send them to the State championships.
Washington got off to a very fine start on this tournament experience with a second-place finish at the Sectional.
Washington qualified 10 wrestlers to the District.
They are: Talon Freese, 113; Lyndyn Gibbs, 120; Branton Dawes, 126; Austin Cottrell, 132; Cody Brown, 138; Ian Roush, 144; Tristan Vires, 150; Mack Parsley, 157; Charles Souther, 215 and Mason Mustain, 285.
Dawes won the Sectional with a pin of Jacob Johnson of Circleville in :30.
The Blue Lions then had five wrestlers take second place; Freese, Cottrell, Parsley, Souther and Mustain.
Roush was third and Gibbs, Brown and Vires each placed fourth.
“We wrestled a great Sectional,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “Our goal was to finish in the top three as a team. Obviously, our goal is always to win it.
“For at least the first two rounds, we were actually tied with (Miami) Trace,” Reid said. “At one point we had been ahead. They have a pretty solid lineup and they were able to pull ahead. They ended up with, what, 11 qualifiers. So, they have one more (District) qualifier than us.
“We kind of fell apart in the championship round,” Reid said. “We had six finalists and we only ended up with one champion, senior Branton Dawes. We only won one of our third place matches.
“We had a great semifinal round, a great consolation semifinal round,” Reid said. “We have to work on finishing tournaments. Had we done that, Trace would still have enough points to win it, but the gap would have been a lot closer.”
The Panthers had a score of 266 to 176 for the Blue Lions.
“We are a pretty young team,” Reid said. “We only have two seniors, Mason and Branton. Our young guys really stepped up and wrestled well. We had some guys wrestling in different weight classes. For example, Ian Roush was giving up probably quite a few pounds, and Cody Brown, they wrestled up and they were still able to be District qualifiers.
“This is Ian’s third time qualifying to the District and it’s Cody’s second,” Reid said.
“We have freshman Talon Freese and Lyndyn Gibbs,” Reid said. “She came back from placing third at the Girls’ State tournament. She’s the first-ever girl from Washington Court House to qualify to the District, so, that was pretty big there.
“Sophomore Tristan Vires at 150 pounds qualified,” Reid said. “At 132, sophomore Austin Cottrell made the finals. This was his first time in the Sectional finals and he continues to wrestle well, picking up some pretty big wins over the past two weeks. This is his second time qualifying to the District.” It is the first time for Vires, Reid said.
“Branton Dawes is now a four-time Sectional champion,” Reid said. “He joins some rare company, including Riley Shaw, a four-time Sectional champion (and two-time State champion). Kole Trigg was a four-time Sectional champion. Kole wrestled at 113-pounds. He was a three-time State qualifier and a three-time District finalist.”
Dawes is a three-time District placer, with one appearance at the State tournament and another year as a State-alternate.
“This is Charles’ first time qualifying to the District,” Reid said. “He’s been having a pretty good year at 215. He’s a sophomore.
“Mason Mustain is a District qualifier for the fourth year in a row,” Reid said. “He hasn’t placed (at the District). He’s looking to make this his first time getting to the State meet. He’s having a great season.
“We have 10 chances to get to State,” Reid said. “We would love to get all 10 through. It’ll take them wrestling their best. Right now, what I’ve noticed with our guys, they’re working really hard. They have a goal, many of them, of making it to the State meet, or even winning some matches at Districts.
“If they go in and workout like they should and follow the match plan and wrestle like they have been the past two weeks, who knows, we could end up with 10 at State,” Reid said. “Our goal is to get anywhere from three to five State-qualifiers.”
Washington did not have a State-qualifier last year and the season before that was ended by COVID right after the Districts were held (2020).
Before that Washington had sent someone to the State meet 12 years in a row.