COLUMBUS — The Northmor Golden Knights advanced to the Elite 8 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) State Wrestling Dual Team Tournament in 2018. The tournament is Sunday at St. John Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University,
This is a first for the Knights as they have finished as the Regional runner-up in three of the last four seasons.
The tournament is now entering its sixth year, and this year added a new twist to previous years. Although the change will not have an effect on the eight teams wrestling in the Division III bracket, it should provide for an exciting finish in the Division I grouping.
So, what’s the road ahead going to look like for the black and gold.
Northmor enters Sunday’s competition after finishing the regular season with a dual-meet record of 12-1. But the Knights will have quite the gauntlet to travel in order to advance to the Final Four and beyond. They are seeded No. 7 in the eight-team field.
“I have no clue what criteria the OHSAA uses for their seeding,” said Scott Carr, veteran coach for the Knights. “I thought that we would’ve been somewhere between a four and a six seed.”
Their opponent in the opening round of the tourney will be the second- seeded Mustangs from Massillon Tuslaw.
Tuslaw earned a runner-up finish in last year’s tournament and returns a wealth of wrestling experience. Of the wrestlers the Mustangs will suit up, two are returning state placers in Jacob “Boots” Kuhlins (106) and Brayden Phillips (285). Also hitting the mats for Tuslaw will be three returning state qualifiers in Connor Brennan (132), Brier Marthey (138) and Kyle Ryder (152)/ The team also has a state tournament alternate in Crawford Hamrick (220).
The Golden Knights are led by two-time state placer Conan Becker, returning state qualifiers Aaron Kitts and Conor Becker, as well as district placer Gavin Ramos. The “Becker Boys” are a combined 74-5 this season, recording 50 total pins and neither Conan nor Conor have been pinned in their five losses. Kitts is 31-9 on the season and Ramos enters the tourney with a 32-7 record.
Carr is still not sure who will be paired up with who: “Not sure on the weight classes yet, (I’m) still doing some research.”
But no matter what his final lineup looks like, the Northmor leader puts things simply. “They have to step up just like they have all season long. The middle of our lineup has carried us all year. Some of the other guys will need to get the job done Sunday for us you make the Final Four.”
Also wrestling on Sunday in the Division III bracket are No. 1 seed Genoa Area vs No. 8. Bethel-Tate; No. 2. MASSILLON TUSLAW vs No. 7. NORTHMOR; No. 3. Swanton vs No. 6. Nelsonville-York; No. 4. Versailles vs No. 5. Apple Creek Waynedale.
If the Golden Knights triumph over the Mustangs in their opening-round matchup, they will advance to a final four matchup against the Swanton/Nelsonville-York winner.
Carr continued his to-the-point outlook on what the tourney may hold.
“Genoa is the heavy favorite,” he said. “Should be a good contest for us with Tuslaw.”
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