LEES CREEK — Normally clinching a 24th league championship – the first in four years – would be cause for wild celebration.
Instead, it was more of a subdued celebration for the Blanchester wrestling team on Saturday at East Clinton High School in the SBAAC Wrestling Championship tournament.
Blanchester overcame early struggles to surge past division rivals Bethel-Tate and Clermont Northeastern to lock down its first wrestling championship since 2015.
“We put ourselves in a hole early,” BHS head coach Scott Nicely said. “I didn’t know if we would climb out of it. We had some kids that wrestled really hard in the consolations.”
It was part of a strong weekend for Clinton County schools. Clinton-Massie had a strong showing which led to a second place overall finish. A young Wilmington squad continued its improvement with sectionals approaching. And the host Astros had another strong showing from John Cline.
For Blanchester, who had outside hopes of challenging overall champion Western Brown when the weekend began, finished third overall more than 100 points behind the Broncos and gave the divisional championship a bit of a bitter-sweet feeling.
“They know that I’m not happy with the way we performed the first couple rounds,” Nicely said. “We needed some big wins and we got them. But you can’t believe everything everybody tells you. You’re only as good as your last match. I think we got a little taste of that.”
Clayton Schirmer was named National Division wrestler of the year, while Nicely took home coach of the year honors. Schirmer and James Peters won league championships by breezing through their respective weight classes.
“They both took care of business,” Nicely said. “They went out and wrestled their style of match. They didn’t let guys bait them into wrestling any other way. I hope some of the younger kids saw that. They’re going to have some big matches coming up in the next couple weeks and that’s what it takes.”
The title could have been decided in the result of two consolation bouts. At 145 pounds, Bethel-Tate’s Hank Williams was just seconds away from a reversal for the win against Blake Hurt. Hurt was able to maintain enough control to hold on for a 9-8 win.
Meanwhile, at 182 pounds, Blanchester’s Steven Latchford battled through illness to get to the consolation final against New Richmond’s Austin Kimmerly. Kimmerly battled to even the bout late and send it to sudden victory. Latchford was able to get the first takedown to earn a 10-8 victory.
Clinton-Massie’s second-place overall finish was a strong statement that the Falcons are wrestling their best heading down the road to the individual state wrestling tournament.
“We’ve been wrestling a lot better, and I think today was one of those days when we put it all together,” CM head coach Spencer Running said. “We came out and won some really big matches. I’m really proud of these guys.”
Blake Seaman earned co-wrestler of the year honors in the American Division. Seaman pinned defending district champion Chase Huff of Goshen in 1:05 in the championship bout to take the title at 126 pounds.
“He pinned the district champion in about a minute,” Running said. “That’s a huge win against a high-caliber wrestler.”
Robby Frederick also brought home a league championship for the Falcons, winning four bouts to take the 145-pound weight class.
“He’s been wrestling a lot better,” Running said. “He’s been wrestling very aggressively, but we’ve been trying to maintain that through the whole match. He did a lot better about finishing his matches.”
Wilmington head coach Kelly Tolliver has been watching his young team take big steps forward all season. That progress continued with five placers on Saturday, including a perfect 4-0 record in consolation final bouts.
“They did exactly what they had to do,” Tolliver said. “They’re starting to peak at the right time of the season which is always what we aim to do. I’m really happy with how all of them performed. We’ve improved by leaps and bounds.”
Trent Holliday was the runner-up at 152 pounds. He breezed through his first two bouts before running into Schirmer in the finals, which he lost by pinfall in 2:20.
“I’m really happy with Trent Holliday,” Tolliver said. “(He and Schirmer) are built a lot alike. It’s kind of an odd matchup for him. It was a little like he was wrestling himself. But Schirmer’s a good kid.”
John Cline continued his strong season for the host East Clinton Astros. Cline was the top seed at 170 pounds. He coasted through his first three bouts before battling Western Brown’s Dylan Mosher in the finals. It was a tight match that the senior Mosher ended up winning by an 8-6 decision.
“He went out there and wrestled really well,” EC head coach Doug Stehlin said. “In all the matches, he’s looking good and looking strong. He’s got his goals set. He knows what they are and I’m sure he’s going to accomplish them.”
For the youngest wrestling program in the SBAAC, Saturday was an opportunity to show off East Clinton and its wrestling team to a league with a long and storied wrestling history.
“I was talking to the first youth coach that we had,” Stehlin said. “I said, ‘Would you believe 10 years ago when we started this program that we’d be hosting a league tournament?’ I can’t thank my people enough. For two weekends in a row, they did an awesome job running a smooth tournament.”
2019 SBAAC Wrestling Championships
@ East Clinton High School
National Division: Blanchester 121, Bethel-Tate 111.5, Clermont Northeastern 98.5, East Clinton 32 and Williamsburg 24,
Coach-of-the-Year – Scott Nicely, Blanchester.
Wrestler-of-the-Year – Clayton Schirmer, Blanchester
American Division: Western Brown 239, Clinton Massie 125, Wilmington 84.5, Batavia 76.5, New Richmond 55 and Goshen 37.
Coach-of-the-Year – Wendel Donathan, Western Brown.
Co-Wrestler-of-the-Year – Tanner Donathan, Western Brown and Blake Seaman, Clinton Massie.
106: Jacob Hamm was pinned by Joe Reinert (BT) 1:25; was dec. by Grant Moorman (CM) 10-2. Did not place.
113: Levi St. John pinned Nathan Kennedy (NR); was pinned by Bryan Sauter (Bat) 1:19; pinned Ethan Johnson (CM) 1:24. Finished third.
120: Adam Frump pinned Logan Mack (WMB) 2:31; was pinned by Owen Bingamon (WB) 0:36; pinned Brandon Lee (NR) 0:31; was dec. by Donovan Butler (W) 3-1. Finished fourth.
126: Gage Berwanger was dec. by Ezra Marlow (WB) 9-0; tech falled Bubba Carter 16-0; was dec. by Elijah Richards (NR) 4-1. Did not place.
132: Bryan Bandow was dec. by Tyler Conley (CNE) 9-0; pinned Tristan Shepherd (NR) 0:42; was tech falled by Dominic Davidson (W) 21-5. Did not place.
138: Andrew Frump tech falled Michael Horn (EC) 23-6; was dec. by Tanner Donathan (WB) 9-1; was dec. by Jon Woodward (G) 7-5. Did not place.
145: Gage Huston pinned Joseph Bechtol (WMB) 1:52; was tech falled by Robby Frederick (CM) 17-2; was dec. by Blake Hurt (WB) 4-3. Did not place.
152: Clayton Schirmer pinned Jason Vonderau (G) 0:52; pinned Albert Corey (CNE) 1:42; pinned Trent Holliday (W) 2:20. Finished first.
160: Colt Conover was dec. by Mike Whittington (BT) 12-3; was pinned by Dalton Garrison (W) 0:45. Finished fourth.
170: Ramiro Torres was dec. by David Pride (CNE) 7-6; pinned Nick Isbell (NR) 1:34; was pinned by Canon Ford (W) 4:17. Did not place.
182: Steven Latchford pinned Andrew Hatter (WMB) 1:40; was dec. by Luke Rayburn (CNE) 5-4; pinned Jevon Bays-King (W) 4:53; dec. Austin Kimmerly (NR) 10-8 SV. Finished third.
195: Christian Stubbs dec. Hayden Mattes (CNE) 10-4; was dec. by Trent Felts (NR) 8-2; dec. Isaac Hattar (Bat) 5-4; was dec. by Gary Powell (WB) 7-1. Finished fourth.
220: James Peters pinned Jayson Edison (EC) 0:24; pinned Gabe Shepherd (NR) 2:47; dec. Austin Terrell (WB) 12-5. Finished first.
106: Grant Moorman pinned Jacob Reynolds (G) 1:03; was pinned by Brandon Sauter (Bat) 1:20; dec. Jacob Hamm (B) 10-2; was pinned by AJ Hurt (WB) 1:30. Finished fourth.
113: Ethan Johnson was pinned by Zack Gutknecht (BT) 0:50; dec. Nathan Kennedy (NR) 7-6; was pinned by Levi St. John (B) 1:24. Finished fourth.
126: Blake Seaman pinned Lee Lynch (W) 1:30; pinned Elijah Richards (NR) 2:54; pinned Chase Huff (G) 1:05. Finished first.
132: Jason Martin was pinned by Tyler Conley (CNE) 1:43; dec. Trent Riley (BT) 6-2; was dec. by Gavin Denniston (EC) 9-6. Did not place.
138: Nathan Allgeyer pinned Sam Rostetter (NR) 0:45; was pinned by Tanner Donathan (WB) 3:22; was pinned by Michael Horn (EC) 6:12 SV. Did not place.
145: Robby Frederick pinned Zachary Vest (EC) 0:39; tech falled Mavrick Conley (CNE) 18-1; tech falled Gage Huston (B) 17-2; dec. Elijah Waters (Bat) 5-2. Finished first.
152: Brice Seaman was pinned by Chad Robinson (WB) 4:27; pinned Bubba Darnell (BT) 1:32; was dec. by Albert Corey (CNE) 15-7. Did not place.
160: Brock Speaks was pinned by Mike Whittington (BT) 1:56; was dec. by Dalton Garrison (W) 16-9. Did not place.
170: Braxton Green was pinned by David Pride (CNE) 2:39; pinned Trenton Kellerman (WMB) 5:12; won by forfeit over Chad Jarvis (G); was dec. by David Pride (CNE) 8-3. Finished fourth.
182: Lane Schulz was pinned by Jake Schuler (WB) 0:51; pinned Andrew Hatter (WMB) 0:52; pinned Nathan Vest (EC) 0:29; was pinned by Austin Kimmerly (NR) 0:59. Did not place.
195: Colton Doyle pinned Hayden Dale (W) 0:56; pinned Gary Powell (WB) 5:51; was dec. by Trent Felts (NR) 7-4. Finished second.
220: Joe Baughman pinned Noah Iker (BT) 1:18; was dec. by Austin Terrell (WB) 7-4; pinned Michael Reynolds (W) 0:59; pinned Gabe Shepherd (NR) 1:46. Finished third.
285: Bryant Pinkerton was pinned by Jayce Glenn (BT) 1:10; was pinned by Max Anstaett (CNE) 0:16. Did not place.
132: Gavin Denniston pinned Stephanie Abrams (WMB) 1:42; was pinned by Gage Daugherty (WB) 1:26; dec. Jason Martin (CM) 9-6; was tech falled by Brennan Bruner (Bat) 15-0. Did not place.
138: Michael Horn was tech falled by Andrew Frump (B) 23-6; pinned Nathan Allgeyer (CM) 6:12 SV; was pinned by Sam Eastes (W) 2:35. Did not place.
145: Zachary Vest was pinned by Robby Frederick (CM) 0:39; was pinned by Blake Hurt (WB) 2:11. Did not place.
170: John Cline pinned Connor Glenn (BT) 1:24; pinned Canon Ford (W) 3:44; won by default over Chad Jarvis (G); was dec. by Dylan Mosher (WB) 8-6. Finished second.
182: Nathan Vest was pinned by Luke Rayburn (CNE) 1:10; was pinned by Lane Schulz (CM) 0:29. Did not place.
220: Jayson Edison was pinned by James Peters (B) 0:24; was pinned by Michael Reynolds (W) 0:58. Did not place.
120: Donovan Butler was pinned by Trey Sander (BT) 3:17; pinned Logan Mack (WMB) 0:42; dec. Adam Frump (B) 3-1. Finished third.
126: Lee Lynch was pinned by Blake Seaman (CM) 1:30; was pinned by Ezra Marlow (WB) 4:40. Did not place.
132: Dominic Davidson pinned Trent Riley (BT) 0:43; was dec. by Gage Daugherty (WB) 15-7; tech falled Bryan Bandow (B) 21-5; pinned Brennan Bruner (Bat) 2:47. Finished third.
138: Sam Eastes pinned Robby Perkins (BT) 5:12; was dec. by Sam Patterson (CNE) 16-8; pinned Michael Horn (EC) 2:35; pinned Jon Woodward (G) 0:45. Finished third.
145: Brayden Smith was pinned by Thomas Hill (G) 4:16; was pinned by Joseph Bechtol (WMB) 0:58. Did not place.
152: Trent Holliday pinned Bubba Darnell (BT) 2:31; pinned Chad Robinson (WB) 3:12; was pinned by Clayton Schirmer (B) 2:20. Finished second.
160: Dalton Garrison was pinned by Derek Spears (WB) 2:59; dec. Brock Speaks (CM) 16-9; pinned Colt Conover (B) 0:45. Finished third.
170: Canon Ford was pinned by John Cline (EC) 3:44; pinned Ramiro Torres (B) 4:17; was dec. by David Pride (CNE) 7-2. Did not place.
182: Jevon Bays-King was pinned by Jake Schuler (WB) 2:39; pinned Joey Black (BT) 2:26; was pinned by Steven Latchford (B) 4:53. Did not place.
195: Hayden Dale was pinned by Colton Doyle (CM) 0:56; was pinned by Isaac Hattar (Bat) 3:07. Did not place.
220: Michael Reynolds was pinned by Gabe Shepherd (NR) 1:59; pinned Jayson Edison (EC) 0:58; was pinned by Joe Baughman (CM) 0:59. Did not place.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.