By David Fong
COLUMBUS — In a career filled with wins, pins, matches and memories, it was impossible for Alex Isbrandt to single out just one.
“All of them,” the Miami East senior said after he capped off his stellar wrestling career with a fourth-place finish in the Saturday morning session of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. “Too many to count. It’s been a fun time with my teammates. I’m going to miss it.”
With his fourth-place finish in the 138-pound weight class Saturday, Isbrandt became just the third four-time state placer in school history, joining teammate Graham Shore and Ryan Gambill, who wrestled for the Vikings in the 2000s. Isbrandt placed seventh as both a freshman and sophomore, then placed second last year.
“That’s crazy,” Isbrandt said of his accomplishment. “Hopefully I helped put my school on the map. It’s been fun, I can tell you that.”
In his his first match of the day, Isbrandt beat Troy Christian’s Jared Ford 4-3. It was the fifth time the two rivals have wrestled this season, with Isbrandt winning all five.
“I’m going to miss wrestling him,” Isbrandt said. “It was a lot of fun.”
In the consolation finals, Isbrandt — who will wrestle at the University of Findlay next season — lost 4-3 to Genoa Area’s Dustin Morgillo.
That final loss won’t take away from his legacy, however, Miami East coach Mark Rose said.
“He had a great career,” Rose said. “It’s a short list of four-time state placers at our school, and one of them (Gambill) is a three-time state champion. That’s a small club. I’ve got a lot of emotions about him leaving that I’m trying to keep bottled up. The only thing that would probably feel the same is if my son graduated.”
Ford places fifth
It wasn’t the perfect ending Jared Ford had been dreaming of — but going out with a win and his brother in his corner was enough to leave him smiling.
“It was great to go out on a good note,” the Troy Christian senior said when he won the final match of his career to finish fifth at 138 pounds in the state tournament. “Honestly, I didn’t go out the way I wanted, but I’m happy with how I did.”
Ford — ranked second in the state behind Isbrandt most of the season — had hoped to be battling his Miami East rival for a state title. That didn’t happen, however, when Ford lost in the quarterfinals and Isbrandt lost in the semifinals, setting up Saturday’s consolation match between the two.
“I’m sad I’m not going to be wrestling him anymore,” said Ford, who will wrestle at Urbana University next season. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
After the loss to Isbrandt, however, Ford rebounded to beat Milan Edison’s Jordan Keegan by technical fall, 18-2, in the match for fifth place. Ford is a two-time state placer, having finished third last season.
“The last two years have been great,” Ford said. “A lot of hard work. I didn’t even qualify for state as a sophomore and I put in a lot of hard work and sacrifice to make it here.”
For his final match, Ford’s older brother Ryan — a three-time state placer at Covington who now wrestles at Cleveland State University —was in his corner alongside Troy Christian head coach Steve Goudy.
“That was great,” Ford said. “It actually helped calm me down.”
There’s only been one four-time state placer in Covington High School history, Andrew DeHart, who wrestled for the Buccaneers in the 2000s.
While anything can happen in the next three years, Buccaneer freshmen Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst both are on pace to join him after Anderson (106 pounds) placed sixth and Vanderhorst (113 pounds) took eighth at Saturday.
“I’m super proud of both of them,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst, Cael’s father. “I’m really happy to get two kids on the podium as freshmen. We had a lot of one-point matches and some close losses. They can both learn from those and get better. We are already looking forward to next season, and we are focused on that.”
Anderson began his day with a 6-4 overtime loss to East Clinton’s Wyatt Riddle, dropping him into the match for fifth place. In that match, he lost 4-2 to Nelsonville-York’s Collin Yinger.
“An 8 out of 10,” Anderson said when asked to rate his experience at state. “It was cool. I learned you’ve just got to wrestle. It’s hard. Everyone says it’s hard, but you don’t think it’s going to be that hard. But it is. There are no easy matches. It was awesome to be here. If you put in the work, it pays off.”
Vanderhorst had just one match Saturday, losing 1-0 in a tiebreaker to Coshocton’s Austin Guthrie, leaving him in eighth place.
“I came in here expecting to place — if you don’t, you really won’t,” he said. “I had a couple of disappointing losses, but overall it was pretty good. I learned I’ve got to get stronger. I got out-horsepowered a couple of times. It was a good experience.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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