Urbana University revived its men’s wrestling program last season and the Blue Knights have had instant success, thanks in large part to a group of former Logan County standouts.
In its second season, Urbana University has filled four of its 10 weight classes with area products. That group includes Ben Logan’s Cole Houser, Indian Lake’s Connor Dixon and Dylan Knotts and West Liberty-Salem’s Major Stratton.
Houser has become the face of the program. Wrestling at 157 pounds, he boasts a 17-5 record and is currently ranked fourth in the latest NCAA Division II Super Region 3 rankings.
Dixon is competing at 184 pounds with an 11-6 record and is ranked sixth in Super Region 3. Knotts starts for the Blue Knights at 174 pounds and Stratton starts at 197 pounds.
Urbana lost to eighth-ranked Ashland University at home on Wednesday 29-8. The Blue Knights recorded two wins and both came from Logan County wrestlers. Houser and Dixon both recorded major decisions inside the Grimes Center.
All four wrestlers had very successful high school careers and it has been great to see them find more success at the collegiate level.
Urbana’s program is still a work in progress, but building a program takes time. It is a tribute to the quality of local wrestling to see the Blue Knights creating their foundation with wrestlers from this community.
If you want to see Houser, Dixon, Knotts and Stratton in action, Urbana’s last home dual meet is Friday, Feb. 14, against Lake Erie College at 7 p.m.
Now, let’s take a look at where the area’s prep teams are competing this weekend:
Bellefontaine at Miami Trace
Bellefontaine heads back to the Miami Trace McDonald’s Invitational on Saturday to get a look at some of the btter competition in southeast Ohio. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. with pool-to-bracket action.
Miami Trace looks to be the top team in its own 18-team invitational field. Logan Elm always brings a strong squad and should be in the mix for the runner-up spot. Greenville is the defending tourney champion, but it lost a few big point scorers from last year and will have a tough time trying to repeat. Groveport Madison looks to be a dark horse with several strong wrestlers.
For the Chieftains, Garrett Gross is favored to win a deep 195-pound weight class. Noah Yoesting (152) and Tucker Newland (138) also have the potential to have good weekends.
Indian Lake at Marion Pleasant
Indian Lake returns to one of the state’s oldest tournaments with the Salley George Invitational today and Saturday at Marion Pleasant High School. Wrestling begins at 5 p.m. today and picks back up Saturday at 10 a.m.
This is a 20-team bracket tournament headlined by a strong London team that won the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail title last year. The Red Raiders have five state-ranked wrestlers. Pleasant is a solid runner-up contender.
Indian Lake will be without standout Hayden Pummel (170), who is a little dinged up after placing at a challenging Maumee Bay Classic tournament last week. Teammate Lane Mefford will see a solid field of competition at 182 pounds.
Ben Logan at Utica
Benjamin Logan will make its first appearance at the Utica Invitational on Saturday. Wrestling begins at 10 a.m.
There are 14 teams at this pool-style tournament. Licking Valley is the front runner to win with six wrestlers favored to claim their weight classes. Ben Logan is predicted to be second with four wrestlers favored to win. That group includes Joel Abbott (152), Steele Boysel (170), Noah Clark (195) and Cadman Roose (285).
Ben Logan finished runner-up at North Union last week and has a lot of momentum going into Utica. Even though Licking Valley is favored to win more weight classes, I think the Raiders’ overall depth will be a deciding factor in helping them win this tournament.
WL-Salem, Triad at LCC Thunderbird Invitational
West Liberty-Salem and Triad are going to the toughest tournament on their schedules this season at the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational.
This a marquee event for Division III teams in Ohio. Wrestling begins today at 5:30 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m. There are over 40 teams in this two-day bracket-style tournament.
Placing at this tournament is a good indicator for postseason success. Triad’s Coleman Hauck (145) and Blake Boldman (152) have the best chance to place among the local competitors.
Waynedale looks to be the top team in the Thunderbird field, while Miami East and an emerging Allen East squad should make for strong challengers. Crestview, Wayne Trace and Covington round out a real solid top tier of teams.