GALLIPOLIS — The Washington Blue Lions had 10 District qualifiers from the Sectional tournament it hosted the week before.
Senior Branton Dawes won the Sectional at 126 pounds.
Senior Mason Mustain placed second at 285 pounds.
Freshman Talon Freese placed second at 113 pounds.
Sophomore Austin Cottrell was second at 132 pounds.
Freshman Mack Parsley placed second at 157 pounds.
Sophomore Charles Souther finished second at 215 pounds.
Junior Ian Roush was third at 144 pounds.
Freshman Lyndyn Gibbs placed fourth at 120 pounds.
Junior Cody Brown was fourth at 138 pounds and sophomore Tristan Vires placed fourth at 150 pounds.
Nine of those student-athletes competed in the Division II District tournament Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at Gallia Academy High School.
Two of the nine — Dawes and Mustain — have qualified to the State tournament which begins Friday at The Ohio State University.
Dawes went 4-1 at the District.
In his first match, Dawes had a 10-0 major decision over senior Noah Tish of West Holmes.
In his second match, Dawes pinned junior Hunter Albright of Indian Valley in :57.
In the championship semifinals, Dawes lost to senior Colton Smitley of Maysville, 9-5.
In the consolation bracket, Dawes pinned freshman Slade Armstrong of Tri-Valley in 2:19.
Dawes picked up another pin, this one against sophomore Cal Beadling of Steubenville in 2:57.
Mustain finished the District tournament going 5-1.
He began with a 7-0 win against junior Collin Gardner of West Holmes.
Mustain then lost to senior Peyton Tuttle of Steubenville, 2-1.
Now in the consolation bracket, Mustain pinned junior Earl Studer of Vinton County in :44.
Next up was junior Zane Pletcher of New Lexington. Mustain won this match, 3-1.
He then defeated junior Trent Fulgham of Circleville, 8-5.
Mustain completed his run back to third place with a 3-2 win against senior Noah Tristano of Dover.
At the District meet, Freese went 1-2; Cottrell went 0-2; Brown went 0-2; Roush was 0-2; Vires went 0-2; Parsley went 1-2 and Souther went 2-2.
Gibbs did not take part in the District tournament.
“She just decided that the Sectional tournament was her last guys tournament,” Reid said. “She didn’t want to risk injury. We wanted to prevent injuries.”
“It was a tough experience,” Mustain said of the 2022 District tournament. “I had to battle through (the consolation rounds) all second day. I had to go 4-0 (Saturday) to qualify (to State).”
Mustain spoke about his second match on Friday against Tuttle.
“I had a really close match,” Mustain said. “It came down to 1:45 left, the guy got a quick reversal on me and made it 2-1 and I got sent down to consies.
“The next day I just wanted to come back and just go all out and that’s what I did,” Mustain said.
“I’m hoping to make it further than people think I’m going to go,” Mustain said, when asked about his goals for the State tournament. “I’m hoping to make it to the finals, that’s my goal.
“I just want to thank all the wrestling partners I’ve had over the years,” Mustain said. “I’ve had some really good ones and I’ve been lucky to have some good ones. I want to thank all of my coaches, especially my dad (Todd).”
Dawes qualified to the State tournament as a freshman in 2019. He went 0-2 in his debut.
Dawes was a State alternate in 2020, placing fifth at the District tournament. He was sixth at the District meet in 2021.
At this year’s District, Dawes went 2-0 on the first day, landing a spot in the semifinals.
He lost his semifinals match and went to the consolation bracket.
“Then I won the next two (matches) and I got third,” Dawes said.
What about goals for the State?
“I’m just hoping I can place there,” Dawes said. “Placing is top eight. I’m just hoping I can place there, since I’ve never placed at State before.”
When he was interviewed on Monday, Dawes said that he had no plans to wrestle in college, but he expressed an interest in coaching.
“For us, we finished 17th (scoring 48 team points),” Washington head coach Louis Reid said.
Minerva won the District with 139.5 points, followed by West Holmes with 134.5 points and Miami Trace in third with 131.5 points.
“Our goal was to get some kids back to the State wrestling tournament,” Reid said. “We had a goal of a top 10 finish (at the District). We didn’t hit that.
“We had a goal of getting from three to eight kids to State,” Reid said. “We didn’t reach that, but we do have two going to State.
“We were hoping to get some District champs,” Reid said. “We missed out on that. But, the ultimate thing is we have two wrestlers who have worked extremely hard for four years and they are going to the State meet.
“Overall, we were pretty pleased with how our team competed at the District meet,” Reid said.
“For Branton, this will be his second time and for Mason, this is his first time,” Reid said. “Now the season resets again and they have the opportunity to put themselves into Blue Lion history and leave another stamp if they place at the State meet. We think they have a really good chance to place at the State meet.
“Branton made it to the District semifinals all four years of his high school career,” Reid said. “Not many wrestlers do that. The last Blue Lion wrestler to make it to (the District semifinals) all four years was Kole Trigg. Riley may have, but I think he lost his freshman year in the quarterfinals.
“Mason has been to the District tournament four times,” Reid said. “For him to get over that hump and make it to State is great. He did it by beating a kid that beat him previously.”
The last State placer for Washington is Riley Shaw, a two-time State champion in 2011 and 2012.
Reid spoke about Dawes’ and Mustain’s first-round matches at State.
“Branton (36-4) has (junior) Larry Moreno of Wauseon (21-6). I feel like that’s a winnable match,” Reid said. “Mason (39-6) has (sophomore) Alex Griffith (37-7) of Galion. That’s another winnable match.
“If you get that first win and get that momentum going, anything can happen,” Reid said. “A lot of the wrestling right now is mental. If you believe you are going to do well, that is one of the biggest things, just staying mentally tough because this is a long, grueling season.
“That’s where we’re at,” Reid said. “I think they’re prepared. We’re going to focus on just fixing a few minor things and just keeping them fresh, mentally.”