WILMINGTON — When Colton Doyle left Wilmington’s middle school gymnasium 364 days ago, he was a state qualifier preparing for a trip to the Schottenstein Center.
Just six days later, on March 12, 2020, his opportunity was taken away when the state canceled the state tournament due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One year later, Doyle will get another chance to write the ending of his story.
Doyle was one of six Clinton County wrestlers that qualified for the OHSAA Division II state wrestling tournament, which will be held March 13 and 14 at Marengo Highland High School.
He will be joined by teammate Braden Rolf, Wilmington wrestlers Carson Hibbs and Brett Brooks and Blanchester’s Gage Huston and Colt Conover.
In addition, Clinton-Massie’s Joe Baughman and Wilmington’s Thane McCoy placed fifth and will be alternates for the state tournament. All three Clinton County schools finished in the top 15 of the district team standings out of 51 schools participating.
Doyle, who qualified at 195 pounds last year, dropped to 182 pounds for this tournament run. He picked up two pinfall victories and a 9-4 decision on his way to the 182-pound finals. There, he ran into an impressive freshman from Graham Local, Carter Neves. The unbeaten Neves pinned Doyle in 3:49 to win the weight class.
“I’m really proud of Colton Doyle making finals at the districts, finally,” CM head coach Spencer Running said. “We were really excited about where he was last year going into the tournament that unfortunately didn’t happen. Ran into a tough Graham kid, but we’re coming out as a two (seed) into the state tournament and feeling really good about our odds at placing top-eight.
“We’re going to aim as high as we can. It’s the last hurrah for Colton.”
Rolf had the wildest ride through the tournament at 145 pounds. After being pinned by the eventual district champion Alek Martin of Graham in his opener, he battled through the entire consolation bracket.
Rolf won by a point over Anthony Wright of Western Brown, won by forfeit over Gage Berwanger of Blanchester; won in overtime against Stephen Chang of Granville and then won by forfeit again in the consolation semifinals against Sean Beltran of Ross. He was defeated 8-4 by Owen Hewitt of Eaton in the consolation final.
“I’m really proud of Braden Rolf,” Running said. “Coming through and finding a way to sneak out into the state bracket against all odds.”
Hibbs, a sophomore, made his way to the championship final with two pinfall wins and an 8-2 decision over Drayk Kallenberger of Greenville. He was defeated in a high-scoring affair in the final by Batavia’s Brandon Sauter, 19-10.
“Hibbs had one heck of a tournament, and so did McCoy,” WHS head coach Kelly Tolliver said. “And they’re both sophomores. I’m only losing one senior off of this team. I couldn’t ask any more from them.”
Brooks, a first-year wrestler, had the most thrilling state qualifying bout. He and Wyoming’s Onyx Mendenhall were tied 1-1 after three periods and the first one-minute overtime. After the first of two 30 second tiebreaker periods, it remained 1-1. A caution call and an escape gave Brooks a 3-1 lead, but a late takedown by Mendenhall tied it at 3 again.
That meant the two wrestlers would head to the ultimate tiebreaker. Brooks started in the down position. If he could earn an escape in 30 seconds, he would win. If not, Mendenhall would win. Brooks got his escape, a 4-3 win, and a trip to the state tournament in his first year on the mat.
“A first-year wrestler — that’s never happened in our high school’s history,” Tolliver said. “I’m super impressed that a kid can come in and in one year and already qualify for state. He’s a cool character. Even when he wins he doesn’t get excited. Great in the classroom, too.
“A lot of the guys that he faced in this tournament beat him earlier in the year. (Mendenhall) beat him 5-1 just last month.”
Blanchester’s Huston and Conover both had strong, parallel tournaments. They each got through to the championship semifinals before falling to tough opponents, rallied for consolation semifinal victories to secure berths at state, and then ran into wrestlers from powerhouse Graham Local in the consolation finals.
“They wrestled really well,” BHS head coach Ryan Shafer said. “They stepped it up when they were supposed to. I’m proud with how they wrestled throughout this whole tournament. It seemed like they got better as the tournament went on. They just ran into buzzsaws at the end.”
Huston was pinned in the championship semifinal by Antwaun Burns of London in 53 seconds. He rallied to score a major decision over Ethan Boyle of Ross in the state qualifying bout, before falling 23-9 to Gunner Cramblett of Graham in the consolation final.
Conover, who with his father Shane became Blanchester wrestling’s first father-son state qualifiers, was pinned by unbeaten Dylan Newson of Hartley in the semifinals. He earned his spot at state with a major decision win over Robert Taylor of Lakewood 13-4, before falling to Timmy Greenhouse of Graham by pin in 31 seconds in the third-place match.
“They’re going to have to fight next week,” Shafer said. “They’re going to be a four seed, so they’re going to face a district champion. It stinks that they’re not going to be able to experience that at Schottenstein Center — going through the tunnel and all that. Because that’s an experience in and of itself.
“It’s still the state tournament. All you have to do is win two and place. No matter when you win them.”
The state tournament is being conducted at three separate high schools in central Ohio. Saturday’s action will be split by weight class, with 106-145 wrestling in the 10 a.m. session and 152 through 285 in the 4:30 session.
All weight classes will return for session three at 10 a.m. Sunday. The finals are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 6, 2021
At Wilmington Middle School Gymnasium
OHSAA Division II District Wrestling
Team Standings (top 15): 1. Graham Local 293; 2. Wyoming 106; 3. London 93.5; 4. Licking Valley 93; 5. Ross 92; 6. Jonathan Alder 82; 7. Clinton-Massie 70; 8. Monroe 65; 9. DeSales 60; 10. Western Brown 58; 11. Wilmington 55.5; 12. Batavia 52.5; 13. Cal. River Valley 52; 14. Hartley 48.5; 15. Blanchester 44.
106: Hunter Smith was dec. by Xavier Pierce (Jonathan Alder) 1:17; pinned Gavin Deem (Milton-Union) 1:17; was pinned by Timothy Woods (Franklin) 1:47. Did not place.
120: Jacob Hamm was dec. by Jaiden Earls (Ross) 9-8; pinned Logan Littrell (Eaton) 2:31; dec. Parker Finney (Oakwood) 7-2; was pinned by Joe Perkins (Licking Valley) 2:09. Did not place.
126: Aiden Begley was pinned by Nolan Gessler (Graham) 0:45; was dec. by Adam Stephens (Franklin) 3-0. Did not place.
132: Carson Curless was pinned by Tyler Woods (Franklin) 0:25; was dec. by Brayden Deem (Eaton) 13-4. Did not place.
138: Nick Musselman was pinned by Oliver Byerly (Jonathan Alder) 2:36; pinned Joseph Tri-Rudolf (Badin) 2:04; was pinned by Adam Cross (Carroll) 4:19. Did not place.
145: Gage Berwanger dec. Owen Crabtree (Jonathan Alder) 10-4; was disqualified vs. Owen Hewitt (Eaton); lost to Braden Rolf (Clinton-Massie) by forfeit. Did not place.
152: Adam Frump was pinned by Trace Braun (Graham) 1:00; pinned Jacob Graf (Badin) 2:37; was pinned by Nathan Bryan (Wyoming) 0:49. Did not place.
160: Gage Huston dec. Zach Osborn (Franklin) 14-5; pinned Ethan Guglielmi (Granville) 2:11; was pinned by Antwaun Burns (London) 0:53; dec. Ethan Boyle (Ross) 17-5; was dec. by Gunner Cramblett (Graham) 23-9. Finished fourth.
170: Colt Conover pinned Pryce Watson (Jonathan Alder) 5:36; pinned Trent Kelly (Bellefontaine) 3:00; was pinned by Dylan Newson (Hartley) 1:06; dec. Robert Taylor (Lakewood) 13-4; was pinned by Timmy Greenhouse (Graham) 0:31. Finished fourth.
182: Jacob Lanham was pinned by Jude Hess (Ross) 2:51; dec. Sam Jones (Buckeye Valley) 5-2; was pinned by Evan Hager (Spr. Northwestern) 2:56. Did not place.
195: Cody Kidd was pinned by Colton Hultgren (Milton-Union) 5:00; was dec. by Will Weinberg (Buckeye Valley) 6-1. Did not place.
126: Grant Moorman dec. Eli Trbovich (Jonathan Alder) 5-1; was dec. by Nathan Kulbe (Batavia) 3-1; pinned Austin Parker (Ross) 1:35; was dec. by Zack Lopez (DeSales) 8-0. Did not place.
145: Braden Rolf was pinned by Alek Martin (Graham) 2:38; dec. Anthony Wright (Western Brown) 8-7; won by forfeit vs. Gage Berwanger (Blanchester); dec. Stephen Chang (Granville) 2-1 OT; won by forfeit over Sean Beltran of Ross; was dec. by Owen Hewitt (Eaton) 8-4. Finished fourth.
182: Colton Doyle pinned Cole Grigsby (Bethel-Tate) 0:47; dec. Evan Hager (Spr. Northwestern) 9-4; pinned Dillon Davidson (Taylor) 2:00; was pinned by Carter Neves (Graham) 3:49. Finished second.
220: Joe Baughman pinned Josh Steiner (Bellefontaine) 1:31; was dec. by Antonio Burns (London) 8-6; pinned Jimmy Larue (Licking Valley) 4:47; dec. Bruce Wagers (Wyoming) 6-2; was dec. by Gary Powell (Western Brown) 2-1; pinned Keith Kinner (Valley View) 2:36. Finished fifth.
285: Lane Schulz pinned Brandon Hunter (Hamilton Twp) 3:54; was pinned by Nolan Neves (Graham) 1:09; pinned Derek Caswell (Watterson) 1:27; pinned Gabe Maxwell (Monroe) 1:47; was dec. by Griffin Peacock (Ross) 7-5; was dec. by Onyx Mendenhall (Wyoming) 6-4. Finished sixth.
120: Carson Hibbs pinned Nate Wall (Norwood) 3:55; dec. Drayk Kallenberger (Greenville) 8-2; pinned Owen Eagan (DeSales) 4:57; was dec. by Brandon Sauter (Batavia) 19-10. Finished second.
132: Thane McCoy pinned Trent Riley (Bethel-Tate) 3:37; pinned Ky Emmerson (Cal. River Valley) 3:47; was dec. by Nick Hart (Graham) 12-11; was dec. by Crae Muzykoski (Licking Valley) 10-8; dec. Aidan Rush (DeSales) 6-1. Finished fifth.
152: Alex Hudson was pinned by Carson Greiner (Jonathan Alder) 3:54; dec. Daniel Caldwell (Eaton) 5-0; was dec. by Landon Speers (Franklin) 10-7. Did not place.
160: Thad Stuckey tech falled Adam Taylor (Taylor) 20-2; was tech falled by Antwaun Burns (London) 22-7; was dec. by Kole Wickline (Bloom-Carroll) 7-6. Did not place.
170: Gage Davis was pinned by Trent Kelly (Bellefontaine) 9-3; pinned Pryce Watson (Jonathan Alder) 2:55; was dec. by Robert Taylor (Lakewood) 8-0. Did not place.
182: Brayden Smith was pinned by Jared Hancock (Wyoming) 0:41; was pinned by Nick Youell (Watterson) 4:25. Did not place.
220: Paul McKnight was pinned by Keith Kinner (Valley View) 1:16; was pinned by Brady Stokes (Taylor) 2:00. Did not place.
285: Bret Brooks was dec. by Keegan Jacks (Lakewood) 2-1; pinned Ethan Philpot (Valley View) 0:57; dec. Colin Shelton (Batavia) 7-3; dec. Cameron Weil (Western Brown) 9-5; dec. Onyx Mendenhall (Wyoming) 4-3 UTB; was pinned by Griffin Peacock (Ross) 2:22. Finished fourth.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.