WILMINGTON — It was a historic day on the home mats Saturday afternoon for the Wilmington wrestling team.
For the first time in the history of its storied program, Wilmington qualified four wrestlers to the state wrestling championships.
Brett Brooks, Carson Hibbs, Thane McCoy and Thad Stuckey will be joined by Blanchester’s Zane Panetta at the 85th OHSAA State Wrestling Championship tournament Friday through Sunday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
While Clinton-Massie didn’t directly advance any wrestlers to the state tournament, three Falcons will serve as alternates for the event. Grant Moorman, Matt Martin and Braden Rolf earned alternate spots by finishing fifth in their respective weight classes.
Brooks led the Wilmington charge, placing second at 285 pounds. His only defeat was to the third-place finisher in the state a year ago, Graham’s Nolan Neves.
“We’re really shooting at getting Brooks on the podium at state,” WHS head coach Kelly Tolliver said. “I really think he has the wherewithal to get that far. He’s being underrated because he’s a second-year wrestler. No one had him going to the finals here. They thought maybe he might be in the top four.
“He’s proving people wrong again. Beating people he got beat by during the season.”
Carson Hibbs and Thad Stuckey won their first two bouts before semifinal losses dropped them into the consolation semifinals. Hibbs defeated Caleb Wetzel of Highland 3-2, while Stuckey defeated Vincent Hummel of Bellbrook 10-2 to qualify. Both ended up dropping consolation bouts to finish fourth.
Thane McCoy lost his second tournament bout but didn’t lose again. He won three straight to qualify, including a 3-0 win over Moorman of Clinton-Massie in the consolation semifinal. He finished the day with another win, 4-2 over Aidan Rush of DeSales in the third-place bout.
“It was very impressive, especially Hibbs and McCoy,” Tolliver said. “Even from the rankings that were out there, they said they were a toss-up. We knew they had their work cut out for them, and they performed better than expected. They all turned it on this weekend. I’m super happy with these kids.”
Blanchester’s lone state qualifier, Zane Panetta, started the tournament with two straight victories before falling in the semifinals to Zack Burroughs of Graham, 6-1. To qualify, he rallied with a pinfall victory over Aidan Gross of Springfield Northwestern. Then, he narrowly lost in the consolation bout to Marshall Froelich of DeSales, 4-3.
“He’s been working extremely hard in practice this whole week,” BHS head coach Ryan Shafer said. “It’s starting to pay off. At the beginning of the year, he was getting beat around a little bit. Now he’s starting to figure it out. It’s working out well for him.”
Blanchester picked up just four wins outside of Panetta’s fourth-place run, as some of the Wildcats were victims of tough early draws. Still, Shafer was pleased with how his team has progressed.
“As a team, we seem to be picking it up,” Shafer said. “We always seem to do well in the league and at sectionals. There were some good kids here that went 0-2 that are really good wrestlers. They just got good wrestlers back-to-back. It’s no joke. This is a district where you need to earn your state berth.”
It was a tough day for the Falcons in the brutally-difficult Wilmington district. Moorman and Martin each lost tight bouts in the qualifying round. Moorman lost to McCoy of Wilmington 3-0, while Martin fell to Ben Hartzell of Greenville 5-2.
Rolf had the most heartbreaking finish. He built a 10-3 lead in the consolation semifinal against Alex Pitsch of Monroe, only to see Pitsch rally for a pin with 20 seconds left in the bout.
“Those three guys, I know we’re right on par with the guys ahead of them,” CM head coach Spencer Running said. “They had tough losses, but they all turned it around in the fifth and sixth place match. They were able to get the win, and if they can’t get into the tournament next week, they can always say they ended on a win.
“If they do get into the tournament, I believe they have the potential to go up and place at state.”
All three rallied with wins in the fifth-place bout, putting them in position to be an alternate at the state meet. The Falcons know first hand that alternates can get in, as two Falcon freshman alternates from the sectional ended up wrestling at this weekend’s district tournament.
“Overall, I thought we wrestled a really solid tournament,” Running said. “Two of our alternates got in and got the experience they need to have. We came out not getting what we wanted by not qualifying any state placers, but at the end of the day, our guys wrestled hard in a really tough district.”
The first of five sessions of the state wrestling tournament will begin at 3 p.m. Friday at the Schottenstein Center. The tournament culminates with the championship finals at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 13.
Division II District Wrestling
At Wilmington Middle School Gymnasium
Team Scores (Top 20)
Graham 283.5, DeSales 157.5, Ross 101, London 89, Hartley 88, Granville 74, Mar. Highland 74, Wilmington 73, Jonathan Alder 72, Licking Valley 71, Clinton-Massie 62, Batavia 54, Wyoming 46, Valley View 45, Taylor 43, Monroe 39, Watterson 39, Bethel-Tate 36, Blanchester 29, New Richmond 26, Waynesville 26.
113: Hunter Smith was dec. by Gatlin Newkirk (CM) 6-4 SV; tech falled Brendan Lester (Mar. Highland) 16-0; was pinned by Blake Niehaus (Batavia) 2:07. Did not place.
138: Nick Musselman was dec. by Aidan Rush (DeSales) 14-1; pinned Phillip Stevens (Waynesville) 0:27; was dec. by Thane McCoy (W) 8-2. Did not place.
150: Dylan Short was dec. by Braden Rolf (CM) 14-4; was dec. by Colin Hanrahan (Tippecanoe) 7-5. Did not place.
165: Tristen Malone was pinned by Ryan Blanton (Cal. River Valley) 3:43; pinned Ian Coffey (Milton-Union) 2:28; was tech falled by Vincent Hummel (Bellbrook) 15-0. Did not place.
175: Zane Panetta pinned Cabit Fetters (Milton-Union) 0:35; tech falled Eyan Jackson (Hartley) 21-6; was dec. by Zack Burroughs (Graham) 6-1; pinned Aidan Gross (Spr. Northwestern) 4:17; was dec. by Marshall Froelich (DeSales) 4-3. Finished fourth.
190: Jacob Lanham was pinned by Gabe Maxwell (Monroe) 1:36; pinned Vince Sefic (Carroll) 2:36; was pinned by Will Heisler (Jonathan Alder) 2:15. Did not place.
215: Cody Kidd was pinned by Dom Kroninger (Jonathan Alder) 1:51; was dec. by Jimmy Bechter (Carroll) 5-4. Did not place.
106: Cody Lisle dec. Makayla Young (Bellefontaine) 8-6; was dec. by Peyton Costa (Granville) 6-0; was pinned by Mason Kelsch (Norwood) 0:59. Did not place.
113: Gatlin Newkirk dec. Hunter Smith (B) 6-4 SV; was dec. by Brady Fisher (London) 13-2; dec. Christian Wilson (Carroll) 6-0; pinned Brendan Lester (Mar. Highland) 3:07; was dec. by AJ Kimble (Licking Valley) 16-3; was pinned by Blake Niehaus (Batavia) 4:37. Finished sixth.
120: Cole Moorman was pinned by Xavier Pierce (Jonathan Alder) 5:12; pinned Zachary Asbury (New Richmond) 1:54; was dec. by Wyatt Hinton (Norwood) 9-3. Did not place.
138: Grant Moorman pinned Zach Avey (Milton-Union) 1:14; pinned Kaden Miller (Mar. Highland) 5:36; was dec. by Hayden Hughes (Graham) 8-4; was dec. by Thane McCoy (Wilmington) 3-0; dec. Eli Trbovich (Jonathan Alder) 8-4. Finished fifth.
144: Matt Martin dec. Braydon Cox (Kenton Ridge) 8-6; pinned Ripley Szanati (Buckey Valley) 3:12; was tech falled by Nolan Gessler (Graham) 16-0; was dec. by Ben Hartzell (Greenville) 5-2; pinned Zeran Brady (Valley View) 0:45. Finished fifth.
150: Braden Rolf dec. Dylan Short (B) 14-4; was pinned by Oliver Byerly (Jonathan Alder) 3:16; dec. Nathan Barker (Milton-Union) 5-2; pinned Brayden Day (Western Brown) 3:12; was pinned by Alex Pitsch (Monroe) 4:40; dec. Landon Speers (Franklin) 2-1. Finished fifth.
165: Brodie Green was pinned by Luke James (Graham) 1:40; was pinned by Seth Hinton (Norwood) 4:44. Did not place.
175: Brendan Musser (alternate) was pinned by Cameron Hickey (Granville) 0:29; was pinned by Bubba Darnell (Bethel-Tate) 2:03. Did not place.
215: Lane Schulz pinned Jimmy Bechter (Carroll) 1:26; dec. Dom Kroninger (Jonathan Alder) 11-1; was pinned by Max Shulaw (DeSales) 2:56; was pinned by Antonio Burns (London) 0:40; was pinned by Jeffery Blair (Cham.-Julienne) 3:28. Finished sixth.
285: Matt Fawley (alternate) was pinned by Billy Foster (New Richmond) 1:55; was pinned by Derek Caswell (Watterson) 1:00. Did not place.
106: Alonzo Woody was tech falled by Beric Jordan (Graham) 28-12; was pinned by Mason Kelsch (Norwood) 2:23. Did not place.
113: Darius Stewart was pinned by Blake Niehaus (Batavia) 1:41; was dec. by Christian Wilson (Carroll) 14-2. Did not place.
132: Carson Hibbs dec. Caleb Wetzel (Mar. Highland) 2-1 TB; dec. Tate Bein (Batavia) 3-1; was dec. by Adam Cole Stephens (Franklin) 9-4; dec. Caleb Wetzel (Mar. Highland) 3-2; was dec. by Ryan Foster (Ross) 2-0. Finished fourth.
138: Thane McCoy dec. Logan Thatcher (Greenville) 16-5; was dec. by Conner Roback (Licking Valley) 5-4; dec. Nick Musselman (B) 8-2; dec. Joel Hancock (Wyoming) 10-4; dec. Grant Moorman (CM) 3-0; dec. Aidan Rush (DeSales) 4-2. Finished third.
165: Thad Stuckey pinned Ian Coffey (Milton-Union) 2:53; dec. Ryan Blanton (Cal. River Valley) 11-4; was dec. by Lincon Shulaw (DeSales) 12-3; dec. Vincent Hummel (Bellbrook) 10-2; was dec. by Luke James (Graham) 11-6. Finished fourth.
175: Brayden Smith was pinned by Marshall Froelich (DeSales) 3:42; pinned Royce Moore (Batavia) 2:59; was pinned by Aidan Gross (Spr. Northwestern) 4:10. Did not place.
190: Joshua Snell pinned Nicholas Isbell (New Richmond) 2:38; was dec. by Evan Lykins (Graham) 14-6; pinned Jack Leiher (Cham-Julienne) 4:12; dec. Garrett Tackett (Franklin) 7-3; was dec. by Griffin Halenar (Hartley) 8-7; was pinned by Will Heisler (Jonathan Alder) 4:39. Finished sixth.
285: Bret Brooks dec. Ka’Mori Boyd (Aiken) 8-2; dec. Damon Hay (Jonathan Alder) 8-5; dec. Bruce Wagers (Wyoming) 10-4; was pinned by Nolan Neves (Graham) 1:59. Finished second.