Wrestling legend Dan Gable once said that when you go to a race, you want thoroughbreds, not ponies.
However, with some of his thoroughbreds in the barn getting over nagging injuries, Graham coach Jeff Jordan found a way to get his younger guys to accept the challenge on the way to the overall title at the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament Thursday night at Butler’s Student Activities Center.
“The thing is,” Jordan said. “We had some ponies that wanted to be thoroughbreds and I am really happy with how we wrestled.”
Graham finished with 230.5 points. Buford (Ga.) finished 38.5 points behind Graham in the overall race but won the Big School title.
Versailles was fifth overall with 114 points, one more than Butler.
The Falcons entered the second day of the tournament down three points to Buford, but went 6-1 in the quarterfinals and 5-1 in the semifinals to separate themselves from the pack.
“We had so many guys step up,” Jordan said. “We were down three, but when we won six of seven in the quarters, that was a big change.”
Graham went 5-0 in the finals to cap off the tournament, getting titles from Tanner Jordan (113 pounds), Mitch Moore (145), Ryan Thomas (160), Gage Braun (195) and Johnny Shafer (220).
Big catch: Graham’s Tanner Jordan hauled in the first big win for the Falcons in the finals.
The 10-3 win over top-seeded Logan Ashton of Buford clinched the title for Graham.
After a scoreless first period, Jordan turned a 2-0 second period lead into the seven-point win; just missing bonus points for a major decision.
“We knew he was a tough wrestler,” Tanner Jordan said. “I just wanted to wear him out.
“When he had to take injury time (in the third period) I knew I had him worn out then.”
Quick riser: Prior to the tournament, Springboro sophomore Mason Kleineberg was slated to be the sixth seed at 120.
After late scratches moved him up to the fourth seed, Kleinberg left as the champ after a 4-0 win Greeneview state placer Devan Hendricks.
“All I wanted was to get to the top,” said Kleinberg, who finsihed third last year. “I wanted to do better than I did last year.”
Kleinberg got an early takedown for a 2-0 lead and then was able to weather Hendricks’ unorthodox style for the title.
While he couldn’t hide a smile, it was a tired one.
“It definitely gets harder as you go,” Kleinberg said. “By the last match, you are definitely feeling the other matches.”
Extra hardware: Butler’s Logan Hoskins and Graham’s Ryan Thomas left with more than their championship plaques.
Hoskins edged out four-timer Mitch Moore of Graham for Most Outstanding Wrestler between 106 and 145 after a dramatic 5-1 win over Troy Christian’s Ethan Turner in the finals at 126.
Thomas pinned his way through the tournament to earn Most Outstanding Wrestler between 152 and 285.
Thomas also edged Moore for most pins in fewest amount of time in the championship bracket with four pins in 5:10, 15-seconds faster than Moore.
Into the Hall: The GMVWA inducted two more members into it’s Hall of Fame prior to the finals.
Longtime Meadowdale assistant coach Dave Ahner and Graham’s Jeff Jordan were inducted.
Ahner was an assistant coach at Meadowdale off-and-on for over 20 years, helping the Lions to five City League titles and coaching six state placers. Ahner was also a wrestling official for two years following retirement from coaching.
Jordan, a four-time state champ at Graham, has led the Falcons to 17 consecutive sectional, district and state titles.
During his tenure, Jordan has coached over 100 state champions at Graham.