Northmor claimed their fourth consecutive Blue Division wrestling time at the league championship meet, which was hosted by Cardington on Saturday.
The Knights finished with 146.5 points to finish third overall. Highland was second in the Blue with 111.5. The top overall team was Red champion River Valley, who finished with 217. While head coach Scott Carr thought his team started slow, he was pleased with how they finished.
“We got off to a slow start this morning,” he said. “I think we were still reeling from Wednesday. We had a meeting with them after the first round or two and told them they have a choice: keep pouting over Wednesday or regroup.”
Northmor had two champions in the meet. Jake Neer had three pins in as many matches to win at 106 pounds and improve to 32-5 on the year. He opened with two pins in a total of 47 seconds before topping Tarren Riffle of North Union (36-4) in the second period after opening a commanding lead.
“Neer’s been on a good tear the last couple months,” said Carr. “To beat a kid like that from North Union — he just dominated him from the first whistle to the pin.”
At 132 pounds, Conan Becker (36-3) also claimed a title, pinning Pleasant’s Preston Smith at the 2:18 mark. Carr noted that Becker had a lot of motivation coming into that match. After losing a few to Smith earlier in his career, Becker finally defeated him recently at the Sally George Invitational, but was still seeded below him entering the MOAC meet.
“Conan wrestled Smith last week and beat him 10-0 and I think a lot of people thought it was a fluke,” said Carr. “I told him that and he looked me in the eye and said ‘we’ll see’. I think to get over that hump and beat that kid, I think it was more mental than anything. He’s now beaten him two straight weeks in dominating fashion.”
Northmor had eight more place-winners in the meet. Griffin Jenkins (28-12) finished third at 120 pounds, with his only blemish being a close decision to champion Ryan Matthews of Fredericktown in the quarterfinals. At 126 pounds, Aaron Kitts bounced back from a semifinal loss to take third and improve to 18-7 on the year.
Both Matthew Ross (145 pounds, 25-11) and Nathan Price (220, 19-19) were fourth in the meet, while Wyatt Collier (113, 12-9) and Mason Burger (195, 16-7) took fifth and Brad Baker (152, 23-17) and D.J. Christo (182, 12-13) both were sixth.
Carr noted that his team’s action this week, competing in the state dual meet tournament and the MOAC championships, were great training for the upcoming postseason.
“We preach this all the time,” he said. “Everything we do from November to now is practice for this three-week tournament. It was good to get out here and get back on the horse after getting knocked off Wednesday.”
For Highland, which was second in the Blue and sixth overall, there also were two champions. At 138 pounds, Dakota Bunting (38-5) went 4-0 on the day, finishing with a 4-1 win over Austin Reyes of Galion. Zach Baker (37-5) gave the Scots another winner at 195 pounds, capping a four-pin day with one against Jarrod Fair of Cardington at the 5:02 mark.
At 132 pounds, Sean Dudgeon (28-7) bounced back from a loss to Becker to place third. Also getting third was Kaden Bunting (30-7). He suffered an overtime loss in the semifinals, but finished strongly with a pin and 20-6 major decision. Gavin Kafka (152, 25-10) got fourth place for the Scots.
Cardington was fourth in the Blue and 10th overall with 52 points. Fair (21-7) highlighted the team’s performance by taking second at 195, winning two decisions before falling to Baker. Taiylor Hubley (106, 11-13) placed fourth, picking up a pair of pins; while Bobby Davis (138, 5-3) was fifth and Gabriel McAvoy (285, 11-15) took sixth.
Mount Gilead was sixth in the Blue and 10th overall with 40 points. They had five wrestlers place sixth in the meet: Colten Clark (113, 7-13), Gabe Hedrick (120, 10-15), Brandon Strickland (138, 11-21), Tracy Lilly (160, 11-17) and Tyler Cooper (195, 15-15).