Created on Friday, 20 February 2009 Written by AARON LaBATT
Although it is a distinction that makes the road tougher than it is in other parts of the state, our area wrestling teams face a unique circumstance at this weekend’s sectional tournaments. The two local Division three squads and the three Division II representatives wrestle in the same sectional with the defending state champions.
Benjamin Logan’s Luke Smith, top, and West Liberty-Salem’s Peter Lewis have been two of the area’s top wrestlers this season. Lewis is the area’s only unbeaten wrestler at 35-0, while Smith is 31-4. They lead their respective teams into the sectional tournaments this weekend.
EXAMINER PHOTOS | AARON LaBATT
Division II sectional
There is no doubt that Graham will roll to another sectional title at Tippecanoe, but Ben Logan’s third-place finish at the Central Buckeye Conference meet suggests a high finish this weekend.
“We should be up there in the team rankings,” said Ben Logan head coach Tony Grant. “If we wrestle to our full potential we should be second, but you never know.”
First-year Indian Lake head coach Scott Tressler has been gearing toward the postseason all winter long.
“How many we get out depends how it all pans out in the pairings,” said Tressler. “This time of year things get crazy so I’m excited to see how our team reacts because we’ve been building toward this all year.”
Each area head coach was asked to give their prediction of the amount of district qualifiers they will have, with each providing a low and high number. Grant feels four to eight is possible, Tressler believes the Lakers can move three to seven wrestlers on, and Bellefontaine head coach Mike Bible said he expects at least one and possibly three of his wrestlers to earn district berths.
Locally, there are a lot of interesting aspects to watch. At the top of that list is Indian Lake’s Kerstin Harmon’s pursuit of a district berth.
“If Kerstin continues to press the action I can’t see her not getting to districts,” said Tressler. “If she wrestles her match she’ll get out to the district.”
Graham dominates nearly every weight class, but there are a few spots where the Falcons can be beaten. Two of those weights are where area wrestlers are involved. Ben Logan’s Alex Jackson (285) and Indian Lake’s Kevin Christman (160) are expected to make runs at titles.
Jackson won his weight class at the CBC and Christman lost 5-3 to Graham’s Kyle Ryan in the CBC finals.
The Chiefs have struggled as a team, but standouts Johnny Maurice (103) and Slayde Wilcoxon (140/145) have high hopes.
“I expect Johnny (Maurice) to get out regardless of who is there,” said Bible. “Slayde (Wilcoxon) is not at 100 percent, but he should still qualify. I’d also like to see Greg Huffman get out, but that depends on if he shows up at his best.”
Division III sectional
West Liberty-Salem and Triad also have the unfortunate task of having to deal with a defending state champ in Troy Christian.
That isn’t a concern for WL-Salem because the Tigers only field six wrestlers and their focus is on individual results.
“We only have six guys, but out of those six I could see five getting to the districts,” said Bair. “That will be our goal.”
The Tigers’ Peter Lewis (160) enters the sectional with a perfect 35-0 record, but will face a major obstacle in standout Zach Toal of Troy Christian. Toal is a two-time state champion and has won the Ironman and Brecksville tournaments this season.
“I think it could be a close match,” said Bair. “Peter has told me ‘let me wrestle the first time and see what happens.’ He’s got things down and knows what he needs to do.”
Corey Thompson (171) is a former district placer and Britt Wooten (119) was a win away from placing at district last year so the Tigers have plenty of potential finalists.
Triad’s Jordan Deady is a favorite for the 140-pound finals. He was a state qualifier last season, but also has stiff competition in Troy Christian’s Zac Hancock, who won a state title last year.