Local wrestling teams send many athletes to districts
By ROB HAMILTON
Northmor claimed two sectional champions and a total of six district qualifiers in placing second as a team at last weekend’s Cardington sectional meet.
The Knights finished with 158 points to barely overcome Garaway’s total of 157.5 for the runner-up spot. Northridge ran away with the team title, scoring 206.5 over Friday and Saturday.
Northmor put five wrestlers in the championship finals last Saturday afternoon, with two of them earning first-place finishes.
Colin Visconti earned a title at 152 pounds by topping Centerburg’s Reed Hensel by a 5–3 margin. Last year, on his way to qualifying for the state meet, the Knight senior also won first place at his sectional meet.
“It feels good because it’s my second one, but I have a lot more to do — making the state tournament and the podium,” he said.
Visconti won his first three matches by pinfall before being taken the full six minutes by Hensel. After missing a large chunk of the season after tearing his meniscus, he is still working to get to the level he feels he’ll need to be at in order to reach his goals.
“After surgery, recovery was a lot harder than I thought,” he said. “Mostly due to mental issues and not knowing what would happen. I worked hard and almost overworked myself. I just have to keep pushing forward because this isn’t going to take me to the state tournament.”
Senior teammate Tyler Beck also picked up a sectional title, as he defeated Heath’s Gunner Loughman by a 9–3 decision in the finals. Previously, he had won his first three matches by pin while spending less than two minutes total on the mat.
“It was a confidence booster,” he said of his weekend performance, “but it still gave me stuff to work on.”
One thing he was pleased with was his work on his feet to get takedowns. In previous state tournament appearances, one thing Beck has mentioned he needed to improve on was getting takedowns.
“That’s something I’ve worked on all the way from the end of last year and it’s starting to pay off,” he said. “It’s something to add that I was missing.”
Three other Northmor wrestlers took second place. At 126 pounds, Sam Neer upended his weight’s top seed in the semifinals, but fell to Cardington’s Adam Reed 9–4 in the finals.
Jamie Baldridge advanced to the finals at 145 pounds, but lost 6–3 to Northridge’s Thomas Williams — the second straight year he had run into Williams and suffered a defeat in the sectional finals.
Also, Cody Ross of Northmor advanced to the finals of the 160-pound weight class, but lost by pin to Rob Mickey of Northridge.
Griffith Jenkins also qualified for districts, as he took third at 113 pounds with a pinfall win in his last match.
Brad Baker (106) and Kyle Johnson (170) both finished fifth for the Knights to become district alternates. Jacob Farley added one win at 138 pounds.
Cardington finished ninth with 80.5 points. The Pirates advanced two wrestlers to the district meet, including champion Adam Reed.
Reed, who decisioned Northmor’s Sam Neer in the finals, will be looking for his second trip to the state meet. He is hoping that advancing as a sectional champ helps him, as last year, he made it after placing second at this step.
“Last year, I went second, so I probably had it harder than this year,” he said. He added that after having already making state last year, it also should help with having less pressure.
Also moving on is junior Colton Jenkins, who took third at 170 pounds, picking up four wins (three by pin) in the process.
Makenzie Coulter placed fifth at 113 pounds to be district alternate, as did Eric Collins at 195 pounds. Crew Cochran took sixth at 220.
Highland claimed a sectional championship at Licking Valley on Saturday, finishing with 182 points to place four in front of the host school.
At 113 pounds, Mike Stewart earned an individual sectional title, as he pinned two opponents to finish first.
Dustin Baker placed first at 220 pounds, also pinning two opponents on his way to the championship.
Three more Scots finished second in their weight class, making it to the finals before suffering their first loss of the tournament.
Jake Limings finished second at 138 pounds, as did Jeremy Johnson at 170 and Zach Rowe at 182.
Lukas Kafka placed fourth at 126 pounds, as did David Fisher at 160 and Jeff Shell at 182.
While they didn’t qualify for districts, Trevor Meade won two matches at 145, while both James Croy (152) and Eddie Kontul (285) picked up one win.
Mount Gilead Indians
The Mount Gilead wrestlers took fifth at the Madison Plains sectional last weekend.
Scoring 105.5 points, the Indians were able to boast five district qualifers, including one champion in Luke Hutchinson.
Hutchinson won his four matches at 126 pounds in a variety of ways, earning a techical fall, pin and major decision before winning in the finals over Amanda-Clearcreek’s Nick Hoffman by an 11–9 margin.
Alex Blanton took third place at 138 pounds with a four-win performance to make it to districts, as did a trio of fourth-place finishers.
Brock Moreland moved on at 113 pounds, as did Kyle Blanton at 120 and Tyler Bashaw at 160 pounds.
Tim Williamson took fifth at 132 pounds to be district alternate, while Connor Hill placed sixth at 285. Also, Andrew Evans boasted a win at 152 pounds.