The Graham Falcons continued to dominate the Division II sectional tournament on their home turf. The Kenton Ridge Cougars showed some staying power of their own on Saturday.
Graham won seven of 14 weight classes to win the sectional title and advanced 11 to next week’s district tournament. That’s certainly not unexpected from a team that has won 19 straight state championships.
As for KR, the program placed three wrestlers in the finals and qualified four. Last season the Cougars had four reach district, but just one wrestled in a sectional final.
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school roundup
“We try to run the wrestling room like a college room,” KR senior Bryce Stamps said of the program’s approach under first-year coach Thomas Baker. “We try to pick up the pace. If our pace is better than the other guy, then they’re going to gas out and we’re not. We’re working on that along with technique.”
Stamps (32-11) reached the 145-pound final and faced Graham junior and defending state champ Alek Martin (29-3). Martin won by pin in 3:34.
“I kind of walked into that,” Stamps said. “Just go in and try anything I can, really. I had my place for district. … Last year Alek (won 18-3 by technical fall in the final) in the second period. It felt good to have a little bit of fight.”
KR sophomore Caleb Kennington (18-7) upset top-seeded Andrew Stachler, a senior from Greenville, in the 120-pound semifinals. Kennington scored a takedown with about seven seconds left for the 5-4 victory. He was pinned by Chaminade Julienne sophomore Roman Jones in 1:16 in the title match.
KR senior Drew Gray (27-9) reached the 138-pound championship before defaulting to Graham junior Nick Moore (31-5).
Freshman Logan Massey (10-23) finished fifth to qualify for district as an alternate.
“I was hoping for at least two guys getting out,” Baker said. “To have three guys in the finals and one alternate getting out is huge for us. I’m excited for next week.
“I really think we can get three guys to state. Bryce and Drew, I think have really good shots. Caleb has to show up but I think he can do it.”
Baker wrestled at Beavercreek High School and LaSalle High School, then Urbana University. He graduated in 2019 and accepted a job at KR as an intervention specialist.
There are 14 wrestlers on the team, double from last year. The Cougars graduate six seniors after this season.
“My goal as the head coach is to prepare these guys to wrestle at the next level,” Baker said. “I’m training them how I was trained in the college room. I’m trying to change the culture into something a little more developmental.
“I’d like to have a full lineup next year. After this year there will be a lot of recruiting (the hallways) looking for guys who wrestled in the past. Getting those guys back into the wrestling room will be big for us. These guys work their butts off and I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Graham received individual titles from sophomore Nolan Gessler (113), freshman Nick Hart (126), senior Chris Kelly (132), Moore (138), Martin (145), junior Trace Braun (152) and sophomore Nolan Neves (195).
Urbana sophomore Trevor Stewart also won a title at 182. Urbana and Northwestern both advanced a pair to district.
In other sectional results:
The D-I tournament at Centerville High School – which includes Springfield and Tecumseh – was postponed until Sunday because of a water main break.
In D-III at Covington, Shawnee junior Jack Cain (152) and senior Josh Lange (285) won titles. Shawnee and Greeneview both advanced three wrestlers to district and Southeastern and West Liberty-Salem two each.
In D-III at Lehman Catholic in Sidney, Mechanicsburg won titles with sophomore Jake Hurst (152), senior Jaron Patterson (182) and junior Caden Coleman. The Indians, who had six wrestlers reach the title match, moved 10 to district.
Greenon Arlie Benson Jr. (132) also won a title.
Triad qualified four and Greenon two to district.
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