That the Graham Falcons qualified for the Division II dual team state championhips is certainly no surprise. That they were nearly joined by Mechanicsburg in D-III? Well, that was somewhat unexpected.
Graham won the D-II, Region 16 title with another dominating performance Saturday. Graham, which hosted the D-II regional, outscored its three opponents 218-6. The Falcons have never lost in the dual team tournament with six straight state titles.
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school roundup
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scoreboard
Mechanicsburg entered the D-III, Region 24 tournament at Coldwater as the No. 7 seed. Mechanicsburg knocked off No. 10 Parkway 57-21, No. 2 Miami East 40-22 in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Coldwater 42-31 in the semifinals. The run came to an end in the finals with a hard fought 39-29 loss to top-seeded Versailles.
The Indians won six of the first seven matches for a 26-6 lead. But the Tigers rallied to win the next five to pull ahead 33-26. The Indians won at 220 to pull within 33-29, but forfeited the final bout at 285.
“We wrestled well. Versailles has a solid team,” Mechanicsburg coach Cameron Doggett said. “I’m happy we came here and finally showed up ready to wrestle. Good things are happening.
“I think it’s going to do a lot for our guys’ confidence, even through the postseason. Today was a good day for us.”
Freshman Jesse Stroud (106 pounds), freshman Jake Hurst (132), freshman Westyn Moyer (138) and junior Isaac Bryant (152) all went 4-0 for the Indians. Stroud, freshman Trey Allen (113), sophomore Luke Stroud (120), Hurst, Moyer, Isaac and sophomore Jake Thiel (220) all collected wins against Versailles.
Stroud’s win over Miami East sophomore Olivia Shore, ranked No. 11 in the state, was a momentum booster. The Vikings beat the Indians – and Shore beat Stroud – earlier this season.
“I was pumped up when we beat Miami East,” Doggett said.
“Our guys are beat up (from a challenging schedule) and the records don’t show how tough they are. They’re finally starting to peak and believe in them shows. They’re getting ready for the end of the season.”
Graham, meanwhile, is already in postseason form. The Falcons wrestled 42 individual matches Saturday. They won 40 of them including 23 by pin. Graham beat No. 9 Greenville 73-3 in the quarterfinals, No. 5 Celina 70-3 in the semis and No. 3 Napoleon 51-0 in the finals.
The tournament win advances Graham to the dual team state championships Feb. 10 at St. John Arena in Columbus.
“Our guys got on a roll and we kept the train going,” Graham coach Travis McIntosh said. “We’re excited to keep this going and excited to compete at St. John Arena.”
With such a dominating performance by the team, McIntosh found it difficult to single out a wrestler or two with superlatives. He did, though, praise the effort of sophomore Eric Thomas. The 170-pounder lost a pair of decisions 9-2 and 5-4 to account for both of the Falcons losses. But he rebounded in the championship match for a pin in 3:55.
“My guy that lost his first two matches of his day, you know what, I’m proud of him because he kept fighting and kept coming,” McIntosh said. “He came back and ended up getting a fall in the third period. I was real happy with him. … The guys wrestled tough. I’m proud of them.”
Among other regional highlights Saturday:
No. 7 Tecumseh beat No. 10 Hilliard Davidson 46-30 before falling to No. 2 Hilliard Bradley 46-24 in D-I, Region 6.
No. 2 Greenon reached the semifinals of the D-III, Region 23 before falling to No. 3 Bethel-Tate 43-36. The Knights trailed 21-0 after the first four matches before rallying. Greenon trailed 37-36 entering the final match at 285.