By Josh Brown
TROY — Four Vikings champions, two of which earned their 100th career victories during the course of the tournament, and a team title.
Three Trojan champions, leading to the team’s best finish in its home invitational in the better part of a decade.
All in all, there was plenty to celebrate as Miami East held on to win Saturday’s Troy Invitational with 210 points to runner-up Troy’s 199.5, with Covington finishing fifth with 145.5 points.
“I’m not sure when the last time we won Troy — I’m not sure if we ever have,” Miami East wrestling coach Mark Rose said. “I know I’ve never won it as a coach. I can’t remember the last time, or if we even have. So it was a great day. The guys needed a boost. We wrestled well today, still have some things to work on, as always.
“Real proud of my champs: Caleb Nickels, Graham Shore, Alex Isbrandt, Zane Strubler. They wrestled tough all day today — and they were able to get bonus points in their finals matches with major decisions, pins, and all that stuff helped us wrap up that first-place spot.”
Shore (126) and Isbrandt (138) both won their 100th career matches on the day, with Shore’s coming in the opening round and Isbrandt’s in his fourth match of the day. In the finals, Shore defeated Ben Logan’s Cole Houser with a 20-8 major decision and Isbrandt pinned Covington’s Keringten Martin in the third period to win their individual titles.
“Shore walked in with 99 wins, and Alex walked in with 96,” Rose said. “It was neat to see them both get it. They work hard. They deserve it.”
Kaleb Nickels (113) scored the Vikings’ first championship of the day, defeating Greenville’s Austin Lacey 17-12. Strubler (145) won a 10-4 decision over Indian Lake’s Chance Daisy for the Vikings’ fourth title.
“Zane wrestled a heck of a tournament,” Rose said. “I thought he wrestled smart in the finals, pulled out a real nice win for us. He needed a good shot in the arm, get some momentum going into the last half of the season, and that was it. And Kaleb’s a freshman. We’re pretty young — only have three seniors out of the 16 guys.”
Trey Rush (132) and Zack Schellhouse (285) both placed third, Lance Rohrbach (285) placed fourth, Micah Davis (120) and Matthew Welker (182) both placed fifth and Colton Kowalak placed sixth.
“We had a real nice start at the beginning.” Rose said. “We were able to hold Troy at a couple weights where they could’ve scored, but our extra guys got wins and kept them from scoring. If we keep everyone healthy, we should do alright.”
The Trojans entered the finals only trailing the Vikings by 2.5 points, 178-175.5, and though they finished second, it was Troy’s best finish in the tournament since another runner-up finish in 2009.
“We had some guys at the top that we were banking on, and they (Miami East) have a lot of horses through that middle,” Troy coach Doug Curnes said. “We submitted a full roster, and they submitted 13 our of 14 — but with those hammers that they have that are state placers, and those guys were getting bonus points all day. We don’t have any state placers on our team, but our guys wrestled really well.
“It feels good to bring some hardware home, especially at our own place.”
But even that 2009 team only had two individual champions, Cole Cochran and Jesse Browning. Saturday, the Trojans had three.
Brandon Lewis (106) won the tournament’s first championship with a second-period pin of Ben Logan’s Jayden Sturgell. Joe Pascale (120) followed that with an 8-2 decision over Arcanum’s Ethin Hoffman and Davin Snyder (182) held off Newark’s Levi McKee for a 16-13 decision to win his title.
“In 2009, we had a lot of guys, just like we entered today,” Curnes said. “We were healthy, entered a lot of guys, even a lot of extra guys, and those guys won matches. Now, the extra guys don’t score points, but they keep the other guys from scoring. It was a full team effort, from the bottom up, JV and varsity. It was fantastic.
“I don’t know when that’s happened last — anytime you get three champions in the same tournament, it’s always fun. It’s fun to be in that part of the tournament rather than watching it happen.”
Frankie Quintero (132) placed second, dropping an 18-3 tech. fall to Wayne Trace’s Ruger Goeltzenleuchter. Shane Shoop (170) placed third with a pin in the finals, Mitchell Francis (106), Michael McBride (132) and Michael Murray (195) placed fourth, Will Brumfield (195) and Jake Browning (285) placed fifth and Joe Daffner (113) and Joah Schricker (220) placed sixth.
And even though the Trojans had such a successful day, Curnes wants his team thinking about the future.
“Does it help with the morale going into the next week? It always does,” he said. “Things change in our room weekly. We’ve got guys in and out of the lineup, guys sick, guys hurt, guys with skin. But it’s great for us, great for the guys. They deserve to experience that. Enjoy it tonight, forget it Monday and get ready for Miamisburg on Saturday.”
Covington — which won the tournament in 2010 and has had three runner-up finishes since — struggled on the day, falling in both championship matches it qualified for. Keringten Martin (138) lost to Miami East’s Strubler and placed second, and Lance Miller (170) finished runner-up by falling to St. John’s Brett Vonderwell by a 3-0 decision.
Dolan Young (106) and Josh Sowers (145) placed third, Riley Richards (126) and Deron White (152) placed fourth, Bryce Keiser placed fifth and Kyle Barga (120) placed sixth.
“We’ve had several champions the last few years, but this year it didn’t quite go that way,” Covington coach Tom Barbee said. “We’ve got guys that are close but just not quite getting things finished. It’s tough competition. I’m proud of the kids. They’re just coming up a little short, and they’ve got to be able to be more focused, work a little harder in the practice room and be able to finish things.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.