Mechanicsburg High School coach Cameron Doggett pointed to the single word across his t-shirt Wednesday night at Covington High School.
Mechanicsburg, the fourth-ranked Division III team in the state, had just held off fifth-ranked Covington 45-31 to claim the Region 23 title and advance to the state duals tournament for the first time, and Doggett knew it all came back to that single word.
“It’s all about family,” Doggett said. “You have to believe in each other.”
Now the family will make a Feb. 14 stop at St. John Arena in Columbus.
“It’s crazy,” Mechanicsburg 152-pounder Kaleb Romero said after recording a pin that gave his squad a 33-10 lead. “We are the first team to do this. Now, we need to see what we can do at the state tournament.”
Mechanicsburg handled Ben Logan 58-12 in the semis and kept the roll going to start the regional final against Covington.
Alex Rhine recorded a pin at 106 before Tyler Wetzel squeaked out a 8-6 decision and Tanner Smith recorded a fall in 3:01 at 120. After a forfeit at 126, Mechanicsburg had a 21-0 lead that was not threatened.
“It is a chain reaction,” Romero said. “Once we start getting pins, it gets everyone fired up and we had some kids step up. It is nice to have a solid team like this.”
Covington got back-to-back technical falls to cut the lead to 21-10, but Joe Ziegler and Romero each recorded pins for a 33-10 lead.
Mechanicsburg clinched the dual when Dillon Hurst dropped a 2-0 decision at 182 to preserve a 39-19 lead with three matches remaining.
For the night, Mechanicsburg recorded six falls and a forfeit to go with a decision while Covington had three falls and two technical falls.
“We knew it would be huge to get pins and not give pins up,” Doggett said. “We had to get the points where we could and minimize where we gave them up. That was going to be crucial and we had some kids step up and get those points and some not give those points up.”
While Mechanicsburg was making its first appearance in the regional finals, the loss marked the second year in a row Covington came up one match short.
“We can’t seem to get over that hump,” Covington coach Tom Barbee said. “I’m proud of the kids. I thought if we couldn’t make the switches we wanted to it would be a 20-point match, but we were able to make a shout at it.”