HOWARD — The Centerburg Trojans picked up a pair of Mid-Buckeye Conference wrestling wins at the East Knox duals on Wednesday, defeating the host Bulldogs and the Northridge Vikings.
Centerburg upended East Knox, 51-16, and downed Northridge, 46-16. Northridge edged the Bulldogs, 37-30.
The Bulldogs had all they could handle from a Trojans team that is slowly growing into one of the better teams in the MBC.
“Last year, we went 1-5 in dual matches in the league,” said Centerburg coach Mike Linkenhoker. “We’ve turned this totally around and we’re 5-1 in the duals. Hopefully, they can follow it up and do decently in the MBC tournament.”
The leadership that older students such as Jimmy Alexander provides, helps keep the younger Centerburg wrestlers focused. He sees the improvement in the Trojans since his freshman year in the 2007-08 season.
“I think this has been our best year so far,” said Alexander. “With Alex [Hudson] and I being the leaders, it’s been fun. I push the kids when they need to be pushed. I teach the new kids moves that they have never been taught before — things like that. I help pick up the kids when they’re not winning.”
Alexander led by example on Wednesday, pinning East Knox’s Adam Keeton at 3:25 in their 145-pound bout.
“Well, I never really wrestled the kid before,” said Alexander. “He gave me a good match, but I pinned him in the second period.”
Centerburg’s Thomas Thatcher pinned East Knox’s Cade Mickley at 3:21 of their 119-pound match.
“Mickley wrestled a really smart match against Thatcher, but he made one mistake and paid for it,” said East Knox coach Keith Kauffman. “Those are lessons that you learn as a freshman. He’s aware of it and we’ll get it worked out.”
Meanwhile, Trojans’ 130-pounder Daniel Colopy won a close one over East Knox’s Cruze Parker, 3-2.
“[Parker] was a little bit disappointing in his match,” said Kauffman. “It was a close match, but he needs a little more effort to get he job done.”
At 152 pounds, Rhett Hensel pinned East Knox’s Ian Lashley at 5:23. Meanwhile, Hensel’s Centerburg teammate, Alex Hudson, pinned his East Knox oppenent at 4:30 to win at 160 pounds.
This is a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs at the varsity level, but they still have some bite.
The Bulldogs got a win from 125-pounder Josh Beltz, who pinned Casey Sellar at 1:19. East Knox’s Trent Simmons pinned Reed Hensel of Centerburg at 3:11 to win at 135 pounds. Simmons’ teammate, 140-pounder Baxter Westover, was a 14-1 winner over Trojans’ freshman Sean Gibson.
The Vikings, who are a surprise after coming off a few lean years, have restocked with a group of young talent. They got praise from Linkenhoker and Kauffman.
“I’ll tell you, we wrestled Northridge first and they are looking pretty good,” said Linkenhoker. “They’re going to be good. They’ve got a lot of nice, young talent there. They’ve got some eighth-graders that are coming up to be with them soon.”
“They’ve got their numbers up,” said Kauffman. “You go through cycles and Northridge has paid their dues for the last few years and now, they’ve got a nice crop of young kids coming in. They’ve bonded nicely as a team and so has Centerburg. I’m really happy for them and I say that because of how they helped us when we started out five years ago in this league, so I am glad to see it happen. It makes wrestling in the county and the league better.”