By Josh Brown
TROY — The first night of the OHSAA State Duals Wrestling Tournament may have offered a glimpse at what’s to come during March’s individual state tournament.
Miami East’s Alex Isbrandt and Troy Christian’s Jared Ford — the No. 1- and 2-ranked wrestlers in the state at 138 pounds — clashed in the highlight match as the Vikings and Eagles met in Wednesday night’s regional quarterfinal round, with Isbrandt rallying in the third period to take the lead and then holding onto that lead after one official overturned the other on an apparent go-ahead takedown by Ford in the final seconds to win 6-5. That match proved to be a key victory, too, as Miami East was able to defeat Troy Christian 40-21 to advance to next week’s regional semifinal round.
The Vikings had a bye in Wednesday’s opening round and faced Greenon, which defeated Southeastern 48-33, in the second round. East easily won that dual 65-18, scoring nine pins, a forfeit and a tech. fall to earn a shot at the Eagles — who, like the Vikings, qualified for the tournament’s second week last year before losing in the regional semifinal round.
The Eagles, meanwhile, defeated Northeastern 57-24 in the opening round, only giving up points on four forfeits during the dual, then they defeated Milton-Union 40-21 to advance to the quarterfinal round to take on the Vikings.
And once there, East simply took care of business on the mat, going 5-3 in the eight matches that were wrestled — and scoring bonus points with a pin, a tech. fall and two major decisions while not giving away any bonus points in the three losses.
“We wrestled well, Troy Christian wrestled well,” Miami East coach Mark Rose said. “They had a strong showing, too. There were some exciting matches in there. We’re just very excited to come out of here with two wins and be moving on to next week. We’re always looking to try to advance. When you’ve only got 12 guys in the lineup, anytime you can get a win in a dual meet, it’s a good thing.”
“We just lost all the matches we needed to win to turn the tables on them,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “They got it done and we didn’t. The kids fought hard, but we got beat by a better team. Woody Hayes always said ‘the learning’s in the losing, but you don’t have to like the losing.’ This exposed some weaknesses. We will regroup tomorrow and fix some things before we go to the LCC Invitational on Friday.”
And while there were plenty of exciting matches, none had the weight of postseason implications to go along with those thrilling moments like Isbrandt vs. Ford.
Ford took a 2-1 lead after the first period and scored an escape at the end of the second to retake the lead at 4-3. An escape and takedown by Isbrandt put him up 6-4 in the third, though, and Isbrandt fended off a late reversal attempt and forced a restart with 11 seconds remaining on the clock.
Ford quickly escaped to make it 6-5, though, and with less than three seconds on the clock he appeared to score a takedown in a scramble to win it, with the referee putting his two fingers up. But the other official called him over for a conference, and they overturned the call after conferring, allowing Isbrandt to hold on for a 6-5 decision.
“That match was a heart attack with every shot,” Rose said. “As a coach, you’re just hoping for the best. In those scrambles, you can’t coach them in those — they just have to wrestle through it. But it was exciting. I’m not taking anything away from Ford — he wrestled a tremendous match. And they’ll likely see each other again at the LCC this weekend.”
“That could be a state final preview,” Goudy said. “We’ll look forward to the next one, and we’ll learn from this one. Jared’s one of our captains, and he showed great leadership and sportsmanship in that tough loss.”
Miami East’s Graham Shore (120) scored a 19-4 tech. fall over Troy Christian’s Ethan Turner, who normally wrestles at 113. Kaleb Nickels (126) followed that with a first-period pin over Lear Current, Travis Ferguson (152) scored a 19-9 major decision over Lucas Moore and Brenden Dalton (220) scored a 9-0 major decision over Nick Baker.
For the Eagles, Caleb Schroer (106) defeated Olivia Shore 6-2, Lucas Moore (160) defeated Michael Miller 4-2 and Craig Montgomery (195) defeated Matthew Welker 4-2.
“We had to move a few people around, and ultimately we couldn’t make it work,” Goudy said. “You try to give your team the best chance to win, and that’s what we did. We just came up short tonight.”
Troy Christian began the night with a solid performance against Northeastern. Winning for the Eagles were: Schroer (106, pin), Current (126, 8-2 decision), Jacob Edwards (132, pin), Austin Awan (145, pin), Moore (152, pin), Damon Beatty (182, pin), Montgomery (195, pin) and Nick Baker (220, pin).
The Eagles then went 6-2 in the matches wrestled against Milton-Union. Schroer (113) won an 8-6 decision over Aaron Beckman and Turner (120) pinned Peyton Brown. Milton-Union’s Colten Jacobe (126) pinned Current, but Edwards (132) scored an 18-3 tech. fall over Carter Jacobs and Ford (138) scored an 18-1 tech. fall over Colton Leach. Dylan Schenck (145) picked up a 6-3 win for the Bulldogs over Awan, but Moore (152) won a 5-1 decision over Paul Brown and Baker (220) pinned Hunter Ross to finish things off.
And after a first-round bye, the Vikings made short work of Greenon, finishing off the 65-18 win in only 29 minutes. Scoring pins were: Olivia Shore (106), Garrett Kowalak (113), Graham Shore (120), Nickels (126), Isbrandt (138), Zane Strubler (145), Ferguson (152), Miller (160) and Welker (182). Dalton (220) finished things off with a 17-0 tech. fall.
Miami East will travel to Versailles for the regional semifinals on Jan. 31, taking on Indian Lake, with the winner then taking on the winner between Versailles and Covington.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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