breaking news

LOCAL IMPACT: Government shutdown threatens 100th birthday party for Springfield veteran

Best yet? Graham wrestling lineup loaded with NCAA D-I talent


All indications are Graham is fielding its deepest and best wrestling team in rich program history. That’s like saying which of the many Steelers’ Super Bowl champions was the best team.

But there’s merit in the Falcons’ lofty expectations. Five of Graham’s returnees are defending state champions and two own multiple titles. Another four Falcons placed at state last season. Trumping all that is five seniors signed national letters of intent to wrestle at NCAA D-I programs during the fall signing period and another will do so before the school year ends.

No wonder Graham is a heavy favorite to win its 18th consecutive Division II individual team title this season and shoot for national team honors as well.

»RELATED: 5 can’t-miss wrestling events

»RELATED: Graham lineup loaded with NCAA D-I talent

»RELATED: Graham shooting for 18th straight state title

»RELEATED: 5 more can’t-miss wrestling events

»RELATED: Wrestling takes different direction for boys, girls

»RELATED: Cochran powers Wildcats

The high school wrestling season began for most area teams last weekend. Graham is among the nationally ranked teams at the prestigious 24th annual Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament this weekend. The Ironman is regarded as the nation’s best regular-season event and traditionally includes perennial No. 1 Blair Academy of New Jersey.

Here’s why Graham’s lineup is so daunting:

• Senior Mitch Moore is a defending Ironman champ and is looking to become a rare four-time state champion. He signed with Virginia Tech University.

• Senior Rocky Jordan, the youngest son of Graham coach Jeff Jordan, is a two-time state champ. Like brothers Bo and Micah Jordan, Rocky also signed with Ohio State.

• Senior Ryan Thomas is a defending state champ and three-time state placer. He signed with Minnesota.

• Senior Gage Braun was a state runner-up last season. He signed with Northern Illinois.

• Senior Joey Sanchez was fourth at state as a junior. He signed with Wisconsin.

• Senior J.D. Stickley is looking to defend a state title. He’s unsigned, but lists OSU and Edinboro among his favorites.

Graham will make its first area appearance at next Saturday’s Firebird Classic at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering.

• Joining all the Graham returning state winners, placers and qualifiers are four more state-tested area standouts.

Mechanicsburg senior Colt Yinger was runner-up at 152 pounds in the D-III state meet last season. Senior Joe Cochran (220) of Springfield High School was fourth in D-I. Greeneview junior Devan Hendricks (106) was sixth in D-III and Kenton Ridge senior Bryce Davis (113) was a D-II state qualifier.

• Other area returning district qualifiers are seniors Damion Williams (Urbana) and Dustin Knapp (Mechanicsburg), juniors Lane McCombs (Southeastern) and Kaleb Ream (Shawnee) and sophomore Cyle Wells (Tecumseh).

• Beavercreek coach Gary Wise was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Ohio Chapter this fall. Previously the coach at Middletown Madison and Graham, he’s in his 27th season at Beavercreek. Here’s what the hall of famer had to say about the state of the sport, participation numbers and the influx of girls.

• In Ohio, there were 13,098 boys who wrestled in the 2006-07 school year. Last season - 10 years later - boys participation was 11,550. Something in the sport has changed and lower participation numbers are the result.

“It’s complicated,” Wise said. “In some areas wrestling is still strong and still has good participation and in other pockets not so much.”

• Football’s close relationship to wrestling also has waned over the years. 

“In those 1960s and ’70s, you would have the football coach as the wrestling coach or an assistant football coach was the wrestling coach,” Wise said. “You had that direct tie-in. That tie-in is not there now.”

• The sport has grown in other ways. Girls wrestling is now the norm and their participation numbers are growing.

Ten years ago the NFHS reported there were 87 girl wrestlers in Ohio. That has risen to 195 each of the last three seasons. Nationally, there were 14,587 girls who wrestled last season. Twenty years ago that number was 1,629.

“Wrestling in the Olympics has helped that,” Wise said. “It’s more accepted. Now, that’s a common practice.”

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Rhode Island dominates second half to hand Dayton second loss in a row
Rhode Island dominates second half to hand Dayton second loss in a row

Rhode Island showed why it was the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Dayton Flyers showed once again the inconsistency that has plagued them all season. Rhode Island improved to 7-0 with an 88-74 victory over Dayton at UD Arena on Saturday. The Rams (15-3 overall) remain in first place all by themselves. Dayton (9-10, 3-4) dropped...
WATCH: Minkah Fitzpatrick gets Nick Saban to join in on signing ‘We are the Champoins’
WATCH: Minkah Fitzpatrick gets Nick Saban to join in on signing ‘We are the Champoins’

It’s pretty clear that Minkah Fitzpatrick and Nick Saban have a special bond. So much so that even Fitzpatrick is able to get Saban to crack a smile. While honoring the team at the national title parade, Queen’s We are the Champions was playing and a a number of players were taking in the moment, swaying side-to-side...
Oklahoma freshman Trae Young posts career-high 48 points at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma freshman Trae Young posts career-high 48 points at Oklahoma State

The No. 4 Sooners fell achingly short to rival Oklahoma State on Saturday. But Cowboys fans’ attempts to distract Trae Young with birds didn’t go quite according to plan in Stillwater. The Oklahoma freshman point guard dropped 48 points — the most in his brief but sensational collegiate career. It was the ...
Iowa basketball fails to match Chris Street’s intensity in blowout loss to Purdue
Iowa basketball fails to match Chris Street’s intensity in blowout loss to Purdue

IOWA CITY, Iowa — On the most important day of Iowa’s basketball season, one team showed up with the toughness, heart and character displayed by Chris Street. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes on Saturday, that team was Purdue. The No. 3-ranked Boilermakers showcased every reason why they are the Big Ten favorite and Matt Painter&rsquo...
Miami lands commitment from 2019 in-state TE Larry Hodges
Miami lands commitment from 2019 in-state TE Larry Hodges

More Stories