- John Cummings Contributing Writer
Graham wrestling coach Jeff Jordan knew that running away with the annual Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament title would be trickier this time.
The Falcons, who have won three straight titles and four of five since returning, find themselves missing five hammers for the two-day event at the SAC at Butler High School.
Defending state champs Rocky Jordan, Jordan Crace and JD Stickley are out nursing nagging injuries as are returning state placer Joey Sanchez and freshman phenom Aleck Martin.
“Sure, I’d like to have my three state champs and Ironman champs in there,” Jordan said. “But, this is a good tournament with the best teams in Dayton and Buford (Georgia) and it is good for those guys.”
Buford advanced eight to the quarters and is first with 83 points. Graham moved seven into the quarters and is three points behind.
Versailles is third overall and second to Graham in the small school division with 75.5 points. Butler is fourth overall – second in the big school race – with 66 points.
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Jordan is hoping to have all five back in two weeks when the Falcons travel to a dual meet tournament at Detroit Catholic Central where they will dual two other teams ranked in the top 10 nationally before traveling to Lakewood St. Edward for an annual showdown a week later.
“Everyone is getting banged up,” Jordan said. “Sometimes you get burned by the fire until you harden up.”
Graham’s five weren’t the lone big guns missing.
Butler state-placer Ronnie Pietro was a late scratch as was Springfield state-placer Joe Cochran due to nagging health issues.
New attitude: Springfield 170-pounder Jacob Yost admits that placing at the Holiday last year was a bit of a turning point.
The Wildcat senior went from being a grind-it-out wrestler to push-the-limits mode.
Yost out-scored his two opponents Wednesday 22-2 to advance to the quarters.
“I definitely have more confidence,” the third-seeded Yost said. “The experience from last year really helped me in calming everything down.”
Yost, unseeded last season, is getting adjusted to seeing a seed next to his name at tournaments.
“I think it helps,” Yost said. “I just have to go out and wrestle the same way every time.”
Statement upset: Xenia 285 junior Peyton Bartley pulled off the first major upset.
Bartley dominated Georgia state placer Quentin Skinner of Buford, before recording the fall over the second seed at the 3:46 mark.
“I knew if I went at him right out of the gate, it was maybe a match to win,” Bartley said. “Then my conditioning and training just kicked in.
“This is one of the toughest sports in the world and it takes dedication to be a part of the sport. It is the hardest thing we will do in our lives.”
Bartley advanced to the quarters with a 7-1 win over Moore’s Cody Melton.
The key was taking the win over the second seed as just another win.
“I’ve learned that those matches can help you a lot,” Bartley said. “But, they have to be just another match or you celebrate it too much and come out and flat line the next match.”
Seventh seeded Seth Bowman of Eaton awaits Bartley in the quarters.
“I am just going to wrestle the same way I always do,” Bartley said.
Quick stick: Graham’s Mitch Moore wasted no time in his first step toward becoming a four-time Holiday champ.
The Falcon 145 needed just seven seconds to record the fall over Bellefontaine’s Josh Eckhoff.
On deck: Wrestling began at 11 a.m. Thursday with the championship quarters.
The first session will run through the wrestling for seventh place before a 45 minute break to allow set up for finals.