By Rob Kiser
In many cases, Troy wrestling coach Doug Curnes had to feel like it was a sectional preview at the Greater Western Ohio Conference wrestling tournament Saturday at Trent Arena.
And Curnes saw plenty of positives from his four wrestlers in the finals — as well as things they can work on for the sectional.
The Trojans were led by second-place finishes from Kevin McGraw (182) and Alex Dalton (285), while Andrew Kostecka (220) finished third and Eric Cannaday (132) finished sixth.
McGraw, the second seed, lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to top seed Kyle Schmidt of Miamisburg.
The match was tied 1-1 when Schmidt got a takedown late in the third period, before McGraw escaped with 10 seconds to go.
“You are talking about a state placer (Kyle Schmidt),” Curnes said. “He expects to be on the podium again. We were lackadaisical for one second and he was able to take advantage. Wrestlers like that are very tactical.
McGraw had advanced to the finals with a 5-1 decision over third seed Dillon Edwards of Northmont.
“The kid was strong, but Kevin (McGraw) had the tactical advantage,” Curnes said. “Kevin wrestled a real solid match. He was solid the entire tournament.”
In a match that Curnes understandably thought had a deceiving outcome, Dalton, the top seed, was pinned by second seed Conan Jennings of Centerville in 5:35.
Dalton was trailing 7-1 going to the third period and had to take some risks.
“He didn’t get dominated like it might seem,” Curnes said. “Tonight was a trial for the sectional. This will probably be the title match at sectionals. We had some calls that didn’t go our way early, but that is not what cost us the match.
“Alex (Dalton) went down in a blaze. He didn’t lay there and just get pinned. I saw a lot of positives in the match.”
Dalton had advance to the finals with a 7-5 decision over fourth seed Gunnar Parr of Fairborn.
“He (Alex Dalton) was never in danger of losing the match,” Curnes said. “We gave up some points we shouldn’t have, which made the match closer than it was.”
Kostecka, the second seed, definitely earned his third-place finish.
After losing to third seed Jonathan Floyd of Springboro in the semifinals 10-1, Kostecka pulled out a 4-2 overtime win over Cody Ball of Fairmont in the consolation semifinals and edged fourth seed Cody Smith of Xenia 3-2 in the third-place match.
With the match tied 1-1, Kostecka got a takedown with 15 seconds left and held on for the win.
“Again, that match was closer than it should have been because we didn’t go after some points like we should have,” Curnes said. “But, Andrew (Kostecka) responded (after the semifinal loss). No question about that.”
Cannaday, the fifth-seed, lost to fourth seed Mitch Case of Springboro 6-3 in the fifth-place match — the same wrestler Cannaday had beaten 10-3 in the quarterfinals Friday night.
“He is 1-2 against him now,” Curnes said. “He got him by seven last night and that kid came back strong on him tonight. The seed voting is going to be crazy with guys who have beaten each other. It will come down to the coaches vote.
“I really think these two guys could be the sectional final — unless they get matched up against each other in the semifinals.”
Cannaday had lost 15-2 to top seed Nick Broyles in the semifinals and 6-3 to sixth seed Vincent Meng of Centerville in the consolation semifinals.
“Eric (Cannaday) has come on like gangbusters,” Curnes said. “He has come out of nowhere and placed in every tournament since the holiday. I can’t say enough about the way he is wrestling.”
Troy will be back in action Friday at the Greenville quad.
Rob Kiser can be reached at 773-2721 ext. 209 or on twitter@kizedawg