- By John Cummings Contributing Writer
A year ago, Mechanicsburg walked into the Ohio Heritage Conference meet as the clear-cut favorite.
The squad brought six returning state placers into a meet that became a large first step toward the state title in Columbus.
This year, the picture is a little cloudier heading into the OHC at 10 a.m. today at Northeastern.
“I am not sure how the team race will shake out,” Mechanicsburg coach Cameron Doggett said. “There are some tough wrestlers on each team. I feel it will be a battle for first.”
Last season, Mechanicsburg put 13 in the finals and won seven titles en route to capturing the team title by over 100 points.
Doggett knows that may not be the case this time around.
“We are going to have to score bonus where we can and win some key matches,” he said. “When we step on the mat, we have to battle for every point and work the techniques we have been all year.”
How Luke Stroud fares against Greeneview’s Teagan Hendricks after losing in overtime earlier this season at 106 will be key, as well the match between Caden Coleman and West Liberty-Salem’s Major Stratton.
“Stratton has beat us a couple times and I want to see Caden’s improvement and see what adjustments we can make before sectionals,” Doggett said. “Stratton is a tough wrestler and is a great matchup to see where we are going into postseason.”
Doggett believes that direction is up.
“There definitely is improvement being made and I am confident we will peak at the right time,” Doggett said. “The wrestlers are motivated to build on the tradition at Mechanicsburg and make their own mark. I feel we are headed in the right direction and getting where we need to be.
“Our approach has been different this year and I feel like it is starting to show, meaning gauging where our guys are at this moment.”
CBC: Coming off an emotional win over Lakewood St. Edward to claim the Division I state team title, Graham is quickly switching its focus to the Month of Champions.
The Falcons will be back down at Division II — they were Division I for state duals — for the individual tournament and see the Central Buckeye Conference meet, beginning at 10 a.m. today at Shawnee, as step one.
“The state dual series was our last dual of the year,” Graham coach Jeff Jordan said. “Winning the Division I state duals was an emotional high for my team, but now we turn our attention to the tournaments leading up to the individual state.
“Staying healthy, getting proper rest, as well as getting great workouts, are our number one priority.”
Graham won all 14 titles at the CBC at Northwestern in 2017, winning the title by 200 points over Bellefontaine.
The league tournament also signals that the state individual tournament is looming.
“All my kids know that we are three weeks out from the start of the State tournament,” Jordan said. “My seven seniors also know that their high school career is coming to an end. They are staying focused on trying to lead Graham to another state title.”
SWBL: There may not be a wilder finish than the one at the Southwestern Buckeye League tournament at Milton-Union.
In 2017, Preble Shawnee edged Milton-Union 165-164 with Eaton just 5.5 points back in third.
The tournament, which began Friday night and picked back up at 10 a.m. Saturday, should be just as crazy.
The hosts along with Preble Shawnee, Madison, Valley View and Eaton should all be pushing toward the top spot in the team race.
“The team race is kinda up for grabs,” Madison coach Stan Oligee said. “Valley View is tough and should compete for the big side and we have a shot at the small side.”
The season had shaped up to be a breakout season for the Mohawks.
However, injuries and a couple of other issues, shortened a run in the state team tournament after entering as the top seed in their region in Division III.
There are several weight classes to watch, but the toughest may be 145 with Franklin’s Logan Raney leading the pack as a returning district qualifier and Milton-Union’s Dylan Schenck, Thomas Foster of Waynesville and Preble Shawnee freshman Travis Howard all having at least 25 wins.