MOUNT VERNON — They won the Ohio Capital Conference-Capital Division title outright. They advanced nine wrestlers to the district tournament this weekend.
But the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets aren’t ready to relax.
On Thursday, the Jackets went through one final full practice before the district tournament gets underway today. And it was all business, as usual.
Nine wrestlers will make the trip to Hilliard Darby this year. Four of them qualified by virtue of coming in first in the sectional meet this past weekend. As a team, Mount Vernon finished a close third.
“I thought we had a good shot to win the sectional tournament overall. We were as good as anybody there,” Mount Vernon head coach John Brown said. “We had a good weekend. It looked like we belonged there, which is a key at this point in the year. This weekend, I want to see the same thing.”
The OCC-Capital champs are riding momentum into this year’s district tournament. The team continued to win matches even after locking up the title.
“It set us on the right foot,” Brown said. “It let people know that we belong.”
By Thursday’s practice, everyone had already seen their brackets, and knew who they would be facing in Round 1 today. But Brown said there’s no emphasis placed on that.
“If they believe they belong, they’ll move on to state,” Brown said. “You can take whether you have a good draw or a bad draw, and flush it. It all depends on who’s ready to wrestle.”
There’s no shortage of experience for the Yellow Jackets. Seven of the nine wrestlers have won at least one match in the district meet in previous years, with one wrestler (Collin Riley) advancing to state.
“The world’s open to (Riley),” Brown said. “He walked in last year and wasn’t sure what he could do. This here, he knows. He’s already looking ahead. Hopefully he believes he’s a state finalist. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Another sectional champ, Jordan Montgomery, has taken big steps this year after missing half of last season. Montgomery, in the 171-pound bracket, is 33-7 this season.
“He should be at state, and he knows that,” Brown said. “He should have been there the last couple years, but what’s between his ears has stopped him. I think he’s better off there now, and I’m anxious to see what he does.”
Nate Fry, whose 31-6 record is second-best among all 189-pounders in this weekend’s district tournament, is a favorite to advance as well.
“Nate’s had a tremendous season,” Brown said. “The wrestler he’s up against (Sterling Paulson) is someone he lost to by one point, and that was when (Fry) didn’t wrestle his best.”