High School wrestling: Graham wins state duals, 28th straight conference crown

Graham won the Division II dual team state championship Saturday at Steubenville High School. Contributed
Graham won the Division II dual team state championship Saturday at Steubenville High School. Contributed

ST. PARIS – Like many wrestling programs in the Miami Valley, the Graham Falcons will be idle for nearly three weeks leading up to the sectional tournament on Feb. 27. The Falcons have earned the break.

Graham won the Division II dual team state championship held at Steubenville High School on Saturday. A day later, the Falcons won their 28th straight Central Buckeye Conference championship at home.

Graham entered the D-II state championship ranked No. 1 and made it stick with victories against St. Clairsville (62-6) in the quarterfinals, Ashland (57-21) in the semifinals and Louisville (49-18) in the championship.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has hosted the dual team championships since 2013, but suspended the event for 2021. The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association hosted the event this season. Graham had won 19 straight dual state titles from 2001-2019 before falling in the finals in 2020.

Lakewood St. Edward won the D-I title 38-22 against Brecksville. Milan Edison beat Legacy Christian 42-27 for the D-III title. Graham has wins over St. Edward, Edison and Legacy Christian this season.

“Our guys wrestled very well. They wrestled dominant,” Graham coach Travis McIntosh said. “Each guy went out there and competed to their ability and it showed in the scores.”

And in the state rankings. Graham has three wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the state in their weight class by borofanohio.net, three more ranked No. 2 and one ranked at No. 3 and No. 4. Eleven of the Falcons’ 12 wrestlers are ranked among the top 10 in the state, with another just outside at No. 13. Graham usually forfeits two weight classes (113 and 120).

Graham went 32-9 in its three matches, with five of those losses by forfeit.

Going 3-0 for the Falcons were Beric Jordan (106, ranked No. 1 in the state), Nick Hart (132, No. 6), Alek Martin (145, No. 1), Trace Braun (152, No. 3), Gunner Cramblett (160, No. 8), Carter Neves (182, No. 2), Zach Burroughs (195, No. 4) and Nolan Neves (285, No. 2). Finishing 2-1 were Nolan Gessler (126, No. 2), Nick Moore (138, No. 1), Timmy Greenhouse (170, No. 9) and Evan Lykins (220, No. 13).

Among the highlights, Hart knocked off the No. 1 (Koen Kish, St. Clairsville) and No. 2 (Pito Castro, Louisville) ranked wrestlers in the state at 132.

“That was good. Now we know where Nick Hart is,” McIntosh said.

Nolan Neves beat the state’s top-ranked wrestler at the duals (Jake Bever, Ashland) and then No. 4 at the CBC tournament (Thadd Huff, London) on Sunday.

Lykins pinned the state’s No. 4 ranked wrestler (Reese Skaggs, St. Clairsville) in 4:25 in the quarterfinals.

The Falcons are likely to see wrestlers from the same schools at the Division II state championships in March.

“Those matches are going to be tight and those are definitely matches we can win,” McIntosh said. “Not only win, but we can open them up as well. I’m very happy with the guys through and through.”

On Sunday, Graham won its 28th straight CBC title by winning eight of the 14 weight classes. Graham scored 228 points to runner-up Jonathan Alder’s 198.

Winning league titles were Jordan (106), Gessler (132), Eli Jacks (145), Braun (152), Greenhouse (170), Eric Thomas (195), Lykins (220) and Neves (285). The Falcons sat Hart, Moore, Martin, Cramblett, Carter Neves and Burroughs to give mat time to teammates.

“At the league tournament we tell our guys we’re going to treat this just like we would any other competition,” McIntosh said. “We go out there and put the gas pedal down and score points. … It was a good weekend all around.”

Graham won’t wrestle an opponent until the sectional tournament, which they host, on Feb. 27. Until then the Falcons will practice and even get a day or two off.

“We’re done just in case anything crazy happens. We have plenty of time between now and then to be able to get ourselves back to being healthy,” McIntosh said. “Some days we’ll go really hard and some days I’ll give them off. I don’t want to wear them down too much, but the next week we’ll go hard. I’ll also give them some time off to adjust. Typically they get to school when it’s dark and they get home when it’s dark. We’ll let them see a little bit of sunlight.”

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