Although small in numbers, Tigers have bite

Aaron LaBattWest Liberty-Salem’s wrestlers haven’t been posting glamorous team results so far this season, but the Tigers have bite when they step on the mat.

The Tigers started the season with seven wrestlers, were cut down to six and are now wrestling with just five. However, those “fabulous five” have been racking up the wins, and three of those wrestlers post impressive records.

Peter Lewis (160) is 15-0, Corey Thompson (171) is 12-0 and Britt Wooten (119) is 15-1. Tyler Sachs (135) and Aaron Goings (160) are not to be overlooked either.

So with talented individuals like that, why isn’t WL-Salem placing well? Because the Tigers have been competing in dual tournaments and dual meets. High caliber wrestling teams embrace a team concept, but for the most part, wrestling is an individual sport. With just five or six wrestlers, it is hard for WL-Salem to battle a full roster of 14 and get successful team results.

Head coach Ron Bair has emphasized that when the Tigers get to tournaments that are not of dual format their talent will shine. I would definitely agree with that statement. WL-Salem may only take five to six wrestlers, but if three or four of those wrestlers reach the finals of their weight class the points will accumulate and we’ll see a higher team finish.

We may see a glimpse of that theory in action when the Tigers compete at the Valley View Invitational on Saturday. Ahighlight match could be Lewis (160) battling Paul Gryniuk of Washington Court House. Gryniuk is currently undefeated.

Ohio Wrestling

One thing to remember about the Tigers this season is that it is not about quantity, it’s about quality.

After hit and miss weekends of wrestling action over the past couple weekends, nearly all the local teams are on the mat this weekend. Ben Logan is at the North Union Invitational on Friday and Saturday where the Raiders have a chance to win the tournament. Indian Lake battles a tough field at the Clyde Invitational and Triad is at the Reading Invitational.

State duals recap

There was big news out of the Division I state duals this past Sunday, while the Division II duals resulted in a familiar finish. The Division III duals were postponed because of weather.

The highlight out of the Division I duals at Wadsworth was the host Grizzlies knocking off Massillon Perry 28-23 in the semifinals and surprising Lakewood St. Edward 27-25 in the finals. What makes the win so dramatic is that Wadsworth trailed 25-3 before rallying back to win. The most notable individual result was Wadsworth freshman star Kagan Squire beat defending state champ Gus Sake of St. Ed’s 6-5.

The Division II duals, however, were not as exciting as host Graham steamrolled its three opponents including a 62-6 win over Lexington in the finals. Graham’s Kyle Ryan (160) and Sheldon Kegley (119) each had big wins over respective Lexington standouts Michael Gallik and Brandon Gambucci.

Buckeyes finish fifth at National Duals

Ohio State duplicated last year’s finish at the National Duals by placing fifth again this season. The sixth-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 11 Minnesota 25-12 in the finals.

The Buckeyes fell to No. 3 Cornell, but bounced back to beat No. 5 Missouri and No. 16 Boise State before handling the Golden Gophers. OSU 133-pounder Reece Humphrey is wrestling the best of his career. He defeated several ranked opponents, but his biggest win was a 5-4 decision over Minnesota’s Jayson Ness, who placed second in the country last season.

Iowa beat Cornell 23-13 in the championship to win the National Duals.