UTICA — East Knox’s Josh Beltz and Utica’s Dylan Wheeler head the list of area wrestlers who will be moving on to next weekend’s district tournament after each finished first in Saturday’s Division III Sectionals at Utica High School.
Beltz, a 125-pounder, scored a dramatic turnabout fall on West Jefferson’s Tyler Riechele at 1:54 of the first period of their finals match. With the win, he became the Bulldogs’ first sectional champion.
“(Riechele) is a real good technical wrestler,” said Beltz. “Right off the bat, he hit me with a slide-by. I ended up being down 6-0 with a little bit left in the first period. I escaped, turned around and came back into him and put him on his back at the end of the first period. I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible. I’ll have to pick it up another notch and go at it hard next week. I placed second last year. First feels pretty good, but I’m just glad to be going to district.”
Third place at 125 pounds went to Northridge’s Thomas Williams, who bested Utica’s Pete Hughes, 3-1. Both earned a spot in the upcoming district meet.
Wheeler swept the field in the 130-pound class, taking a major decision against Dillon Harper of West Jefferson and defeating Albert Rozman of Bishop Ready, 10-4, in the final.
“The West Jeff guy was a good start off match for the day,” said Wheeler. “They have such a sound team and they wrestle such a hard schedule; you can’t really judge them on their records. I was more nervous going into the West Jeff match than going into the finals. Once I beat the West Jeff kid and controlled the whole match, my confidence boosted right through the roof.”
Now, it’s back to the training room for Wheeler, who is also a cross-country runner. He will need a little more wind as the competition gets stronger and better.
“I definitely need to work on my cardio more,” said Wheeler. “I felt it when I went six minutes with those kids in my final and semi. I only went the whole six minutes three times this year.”
Jimmy Alexander, the only wrestler from Centerburg to move on, took a 7-5 decision from a tough Jake Nelson of Newark Catholic before dropping a 7-3 decision to Nathan Blackwell of West Jefferson in the final to finish second overall. West Jefferson will bring 11 wrestlers from the Utica Sectional to next weekend’s district tournament.
In the 119-pound class, Nolan Dilts of Fredericktown won his third-place showdown with Cade Mickley of East Knox by an 8-4 decision. Dilts’ only loss came to Kevin Heim of Heath, who lost in the final to Aaron Branham of West Jefferson.
Derek Posey of Utica began Saturday with a loss to Nate Anderson of Ridgewood, who eventually won the 160-pound class. Posey then came back to score a major on Phil Halco of Ready and defeat Matt Hochstetler of Garaway in an exciting 2-1 bout to take third place.
Josh Neff will move on to the district for the Freddies after defeating Deven Boucher of Heath in the 215-pound, third-place final. Boucher was pinned at 1:32 of the second period. It was the second time he beat Boucher, also besting him 8-6 on Friday to get into the championship semifinal. Neff lost that one to eventual 215-pound champion Tyler Fabry of West Jefferson.
Utica’s Bryce Stewart also lost in the championship semis to the eventual 285-pound winner, Damian McAfee of Liberty Union. Stewart defeated Nate Watson of Newark to finish third and move on to the district.
Fredericktown’s Cody McGuire (171) lost a close third-place bout to Casey Beatty of Bishop Ready, 2-0. Earlier, McGuire scored a major decision on Cody Eilbacher of Centerburg, and then edged Conner Barber of Newark Catholic, 11-10.
Northridge’s Anthony Verhovec (189) lost an 8-2 decision to Amanda Clearcreek’s Kaleb Miller in the third-place final. Andrew Mullen also wound up fourth for Northridge, losing a major in the 112-pound third-place final.
Notes: Johnstown will also be sending Scott Robinson (152) and Brendin Cornwell (285) to Heath this weekend.
The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets placed eight in the Division I District at Hilliard Darby this Friday and Saturday. The Yellow Jacket placers include: Dylan Pauley (103), Dakota Riley (112), Nick Yashnyk (125), Colin Riley (130), Kyle Horner (135), Jordan Montgomery (160) Nick Fry (171) and Dane Cullen (215).
The Clear Fork Colts will be the best-represented area school at the district tournament, sending nine to Owens Community College in Perrysburg for their Division III showdown. Advancing are Alex Culler (119), Doug Hicks (125), Carl Crozier (130), Logan Harless (135), Austin Maneese (140), Jordan Krupa (145), Reno Bucci (152), Kyle Kinzel (160) and Brandon O’Neill (171).
The Loudonville Redbirds will send five placers to the Division III Districts in Maple Heights. They’ll be led by defending state placer Scott Spreng (112). Also going are Tyler McCaskey (152), Dylan Bender (160), Alex Tuttle (171) and Brent Allerding (215).