In the final year of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference as it is, Northmor was able to add to their collection of winter sports titles.
Just two days after the boys’ basketball team claimed a share of their first ever title, the wrestling team not only won the Blue for the fifth straight year, but also was the top-scoring team in the league during Saturday’s conference meet hosted by Highland.
Northmor finished with 212 points, while Red champion River Valley had 183. Highland took second in the Blue with 100, while Mount Gilead was third with 60. Galion finished third in the Red with 125.
The Knights won thanks to scoring depth. While both they and Highland claimed three weight class champions, Northmor had 11 of their 12 wrestlers finish in the top four.
“We’re a solid team with quality wrestlers at every weight class,” said head coach Scott Carr. “That experience showed this weekend. We have six seniors on our team and their leadership goes a long way and trickles down to the underclassmen.”
The coach cited his team’s depth, pointing out that Gavin Ramos pulled off some big wins to place at 126 pounds and that 160-pounder Kyle Price found out he’d be competing that day at 5:30 a.m. due to a teammate’s being ill. Carr noted that his team’s season builds up to the league meet, and then the postseason, which begins this Saturday at sectionals.
“We preach about this at the beginning of the season,” he said. “The league is a goal — it’s not our ultimate goal, but it’s a goal. It’s been building from November to now. We’ve been gearing up for the last month. It’s a good confidence boost going into sectionals.”
Conan Becker (138), Conor Becker (145) and Mason Burger (182) all took home first-place finishes. Conan claimed two pins and a technical fall in his first three matches before topping Preston Smith of Pleasant by an 8-0 margin in the finals.
Conor won by pinfall in his first two matches before edging Pleasant’s Brock Zugg in a 4-3 finals match. Burger also opened with two pins and then won by a 10-4 margin over River Valley’s Sam Troutman to claim his championship.
Jake Neer (120), Matthew Ross (152) and Nathan Price (195) finished second in their classes. Winning their third-place matches were Manny Heilman (106), Ramos (126), Aaron Kitts (132) and Kyle Price (160); while Ben Singer (170) was fourth.
If Carr had one negative to take from the day, it’s that this marks the final year of his squad taking part in the MOAC tournament.
“It’s kind of bittersweet with the league breaking up,” he said. “I wish we could do it for the next 20 years. We’ve built a lot of good relationships with coaches — it’s sad.”
Highland’s three champions were Christian Miller at 113 pounds, Sean Dudgeon at 132 and Zach Baker at 220. Baker, along with Fredericktown’s Ryan Matthews, received a $1000 scholarship from the MOAC Wrestling Coaches Scholarship Fund.
Miller opened with a win via decision and then earned a pin in the semifinals before jumping out to a sizable early lead in the finals before holding on for a 11-9 decision over Tarren Riffle of North Union. Dudgeon won by pin in his first match before taking two decisions, including a 6-2 win over River Valley’s Mitchell Miracle in the finals. Baker earned two first-period pins before being taken the distance in a 5-2 win over Austin Winegarner of River Valley in the championship match.
Alex Presley (160) picked up third place for the Scots, while both Alex Sargent (160) and Tanner Sean (182) were sixth.
Mount Gilead had four wrestlers compete in the consolation finals. Jullian Anderson finished third at 195 pounds, while Brandon Strickland (145), Domonick Sullivan (152) and Kaleb Fisher (285) all were fourth. Also, Tracy Lilly (170) took fifth.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS