The new state team wrestling tournament isn’t quite made for Kenton Ridge yet.
Second-year coach Cameron Doggett expects to do well when the traditional individual tournament begins in February, but he doesn’t have the numbers to compete well in dual matches.
The fourth-seeded Cougars forfeited five upper weight classes Wednesday and lost 42-35 to No. 5 Celina at Graham High School in the Division II Region 16A quarterfinals. Celina will be back at Graham next Wednesday to face the Falcons in the regional semifinals.
In the other first-round match, No. 8 Ben Logan got a pin at 285 to beat No. 9 Bellefontaine 40-33. But the Raiders had to face top-seeded Graham next, and the 12-time defending state champion dominated the Raiders 74-6 with seven pins.
Kenton Ridge rolled to a 35-0 lead over Celina with pins by Elijah Cochran (126), Preston Bowshier (132) and Tyler Sowards (145). But those were the last points the Cougars scored.
Typically the Cougars forfeit three or four matches, but with two wrestlers out Doggett had to watch as Celina racked up 30 free points. Doggett, however, is looking forward to the second tournament season that begins with sectionals on Feb. 11.
“I think we have a tough tournament team,” Doggett said. “Depending on what site we’re at I think we can get five to state this year as long as they come to wrestle.”
Doggett, who learned to wrestle at Graham, is in his second year at Kenton Ridge and said the program is improving. Bowshier, a junior, placed fifth at state last year and seventh as a freshman.
“Everybody’s getting adjusted to the style of wrestling that I teach,” Doggett said.
Falcons coach Jeff Jordan considered resting several starters on his top-ranked team, but he chose to wrestle all but one of them (another was also out with an injury) in preparation for tonight’s home match against Cincinnati Loveland, the No. 10 Division I team in the state.
“It’s here at our place the next couple weeks and the crowd wants to see the Graham wrestlers,” Jordan said.
Graham will be heavily favored to beat Celina in Wednesday’s first match, then will likely face Indian Lake or Wapakoneta in the night’s second match. Jordan said he might wrestle some underclassmen in the first match then come back with the full varsity in the second.
Jordan said he likes the idea of the team state tournament, but he would rather see the regional be decided all on one Saturday instead of spread out over three Wednesdays.
“Three weeks in a row of making weight on Wednesday night and getting done late and getting to bed at 10:30 at night and school the next day, I don’t know if I’m in favor of that,” Jordan said. “You miss a day of training, and I want to train and get ready for the individual state tournament.”