JOHNSTOWN — A half dozen
Johnstown Johnnies will lead the march of local wrestlers to the 2008 OHSAA Regional
Tournament in Steubenville.
They, along with representatives from other area schools, placed high in the sectional tournament, held Saturday at Northridge High School.
All-Ohio wrestler Chris Block (140) will head a terrific group from Johnstown. The group also includes Ross Sandridge (130), Keith Tanner (135), Scott Robinson (145), Cody Bracken (152) and Austin Montgomery (189).
“It feels really good,” said Johnstown coach Brad Todd. “We came with our six strong guys and they came through and wrestled well today. We have three champions, and that’s pretty good because it’s crucial how you place as far as your pairings at the district goes. I think that the guys we are sending to district are really going to turn heads. We’re looking ahead, but we’ve got to stay focused and stay grounded and take it one match at a time. Every match is going to be a dogfight because they know it could be their last. The ultimate goal is to make it to state.”
“Hey, it’s great to have the team going,” said Block, who defeated Mark McNichols of East Knox with a fall at 1:40 in the finals. “Last year, we had five and this year we’re taking six. Everything that we have done this season has worked out. All the hard work and all the dedication paid off and I’m glad. I wrestled [McNichols] two times prior to this. He wants to wrestle me and I’m glad he does. He’s a good kid and a great wrestler. I don’t want to take anything from him.”
Also placing first in his weight class was Tanner, who won a 3-0 decision over David Martello of Bishop Ready. Robinson won his championship final against Newark Catholic’s Jake Nelson, 10-6.
Montgomery was defeated in the final by Aaron Shook of Newark Catholic, 9-3. Despite the loss, Montgomery is glad to be accompanying his teammates to Steubenville.
“We came out fired up,” said Mongomery. “I’m glad we’ve got six going. It’s a great turnout for us this year. Last year, I had a skin infection and I didn’t get to wrestle [in the post season] but, this year, I made sure I didn’t get an infection. I came out strong and did the best I could. We’ve just got to keep our heads up, come in next week and work real hard.”
Bracken won by a fall at 1:42 against Josh Morin of Harvest Prep. Sandridge was fourth after being defeated in his final against Aaron McMahon of Indian Valley.
Fredericktown’s Rodil Rodriguez took first place in the 125-pound class, downing East Knox’s Josh Beltz in the championship round, 16-8.
“It was long,” said Rodriguez. “It was pretty rough. There were a lot of takedowns. That’s all I could do, was take him down. I couldn’t get a reversal. I just focused on my takedowns and made sure he didn’t take me down. I had a tech fall to get to the finals and I had a pin yesterday. Now, I just want to place in the top four in the districts so I can go to the state.”
“I wrestled well in my first match, but I had Rodil in my final,” said Beltz. “He’s really strong. I shot at him a couple of times but I wasn’t really setting anything up. I just wrestled sloppy. I could have wrestled a little better. Hopefully, I will see him at districts. I wrestled him once before and beat him by one point. Today, he just came out and wanted it more. Now, it’s 1-1. So I’ll get him next time.”
Also for Fredericktown, Nolan Dilts (119) placed fourth and will join Rodriguez in Steubenville. Also competing at district will be teammate Mark VanHouten, who also placed fourth after forfeiting to Ryan Fultz of West Jefferson in the 189 third-place final.
“This feels pretty good. I had knee surgery last year, so I couldn’t compete,” said VanHouten. “I wish I would have placed higher, but I am going to districts. We’ve just got to do good and hope for the best.”
Scott Hinkle (171) and Keith Cockrell (145) will go as alternates for the Freddies.
“At the beginning of the season, we looked at everybody and tried to envision the championship potential in all of them,” said Fredericktown coach Steve Herbst. “As they start to develop through the season, you start to see who has the ability to move on through. I came in to this tournament thinking I could get five or six through, and I’ve got five going.”
Along with McNichols and Beltz, East Knox placed Justin Oswalt, who was second in the 112-pound class. Oswalt dropped an 11-7 decision in the championship round to West Jefferson’s Tyler Riechel. Trente Simmons (135) won the third-place final, defeating Akeem Needum of Harvest Prep. Derrick Moss (189), Caleb Byrd (160) and Cory Douglas (130) will join their teammates as alternates.
“I’m happy, but it doesn’t stop here,” said East Knox Keith Kaufmann. “We’ve got to get some kids to the state tournament. Anytime we can keep advancing the program, it’s a great thing for the school.”
NOTES: The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets finished third as a team at their Division I District meet at Pickerington North on Saturday. They finished with 165 points. Only Central Crossing 227.5 and host Pickerington North 172.5 finished higher. Matt Belcher (119), Mason Smith (125), Charlie Hill (130), Brent Kramp (135) and Ian Mizer (289) will all move on. ... Utica placed wrestlers in six weight classes in its Division II Sectional at Amanda Clearcreek. Pete Hughes (119), Dylan Wheeler (125), Kenny Poland (140), Seth Ware (152), Derek Posey (160) and B.J. Douglas (215) will all go on to the districts. ... Highland will be sending three wrestlers to the district tournament after they qualified in Saturday’s Division III Sectional at Cardington. Mike Shepard (125), Cody Kucera (171) and Artie McAndrew (130) will move on to the district final.