SPARTA — Highland High School is trying to establish tradition in its wrestling program.
Saturday’s invitational tournament is another step in that direction.
For the first time, the Highland Invitational has a name: The Kilted Klassic. And with a new name came some solid competition — and a few surprises.
The host Scots, one of 15 teams at this year’s tournament, finished second. Although it had no champions, Highland had seven wrestlers finish in the top four of their respective weight classes. Freshman Mike Stewart (106 pounds), Jeremy Johnson (170), Dustin Baker (195) and Cody Kucera (160) each finished second, while Luke Clemens (113) and Jeff Shell (182) placed third and Ed Kontual (285) placed fourth.
Kucera had the closest call, winning his three pool round matches by pinfall, but losing one of his final pool matches, 6-5, to Mansfield Senior’s Jesse Palser.
“This team is improving a lot, week by week,” said Highland head coach Adam Gilmore. “I have no complaints at all on their effort. We still have to improve on our technical execution.”
Brandon Brown (182) placed fifth, while Jake Limings (126) finished sixth. Limings competed well in his pool but had to withdraw due to injury. Gage Smith (145) came in seventh.
The big surprise in the tournament came in the form of the Fredericktown Freddies. The Freddies finished third, two points ahead of New Albany. Not bad for a team that couldn’t fill most of the weight classes last year.
“I’m very proud of this team,” said Fredericktown head coach Jordan Cramer. “I didn’t care (where we finished), considering their effort. The fact that we finished third was just icing on the cake.”
The solid effort resulted in three first-place finishes for Fredericktown. Cody McGuire (182), Nolan Dilts (126) and Josh Neff (285) each won their respective classes. Neff went 5-0 on the day, with four pinfalls. Dilts went 5-0 including three pinfalls. McGuire won all four of his matches by pinfall, three in the first round.
Cramer credits their near-misses at the Wazie Invitational the week before for their victories.
“Cody was upset after last week,” said Cramer. “I knew he’d come out and do well. I don’t expect him to lose for awhile. ... I think (Josh Neff) was a little overconfident last week. But his first loss knocked him down a peg, and his second loss put him right where he needed to be.”
Austin Palms (132) placed fourth. Sixth-place finishes by Cameron Snyder (113) and Matthew Giffin (120) helped put Fredericktown into its third place finish.
“(Giffin) listens to everything I tell him,” said Cramer. “He’s a good kid. He doesn’t win every match, but he always listens and he’s always giving all his effort.