By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY —Dozens of wrestlers will no doubt be pleased just to be competing at this weekend’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Jacob Edwards will not be one of them.
“I’ve done everything there is to do over there but one thing,” the Troy Christian senior said. “There’s one thing I haven’t done yet. That’s my goal.”
Edwards, who wrestles at 132 pounds for the Eagles, is one of three Miami County wrestlers — along with Miami East’s Graham Shore (120 pounds) and Alex Isbrandt (138 pounds) — who will be making their fourth trips to the state tournament. Edwards is a two-time state placer, having placed second as a sophomore and third last year, while both Shore and Isbrandt are three-time state placers. Shore placed seventh as a freshman and third each of the past two years, while Isbrandt placed seventh as a freshman and sophomore and second last year.
All three have impressive resumes, no doubt, but as Edwards pointed out, all three also have one glaring omission — a state championship.
All three have come close in the past; all three will face a variety of challenges getting to the top of the podium this weekend.
Isbrandt has come the closest of the three to winning a state championship, making it to the finals last year before dropping a heartbreaking 8-6 sudden victory decision to Mechanicsburg’s Alex Rhine.
“I’ve put that one behind me,” Isbrandt said of last year’s loss. “I’m just focused on what I’ve got to do this year.”
Isbrandt is favored to make it to the state finals again this year, where — if the projections hold true — he’ll likely square off against Troy Christian senior Jared Ford, who placed fifth last season. The two county wrestlers already have met four times this season, with Isbrandt winning all four — although all four matches have been closely contested affairs. Those four losses to Isbrandt are the only four losses Ford has all season.
Shore will be looking not only to win his first state title, but to make it to his first championship match. Last year, he lost 4-2 in the quarterfinals to Genoa Area’s Julian Sanchez. Two years ago, he lost 3-2 to Shadyside’s Greg Quinn in the semifinals. This year, Shore is projected to make it to the championship match, where a rematch with Sanchez — who is in the other half of the bracket this year — likely awaits.
Last year, Edwards lost 1-0 in the semifinals to Shadyside’s Quinn. Two years ago, he made it to the championship match, but was pinned by Genoa Area’s Dylan D’Emilio in 3:27. D’Emilio, a junior, is a two-time state champ and currently ranked No. 11 in the country in his weight class by intermatwrestle.com. If Edwards is going to win a state title this year, he’ll likely have to do it by beating D’Emilio in the finals this year.
Miami County wrestlers will be looking to break a noticeable stretch without a state champion. During a four-year stretch from 2012-15, Miami County had at least one wrestler standing atop the podium as a state champion in March. The past two years, however, county wrestlers have fallen just short.
Shore, Isbrandt and Edwards all are four-time state qualifiers. Several local underclassmen are on pace to match that feat in a few years.
Troy Christian sophomore Ethan Turner (113 pounds) is making his second trip to state, having placed third last year. Miami East’s Kaleb Nickels (126 pounds), also a sophomore, is making his second trip to state. A pair of Covington freshmen, Kellan Anderson (106) and Cael Vanderhorst (113) both are headed to state this year — it’s impossible to make it state four times if you don’t start out making it as a freshman.
A trio wrestlers from Miami County also will be making return trips to state. Tippecanoe senior Caleb Blake (145 pounds) will be making his second straight appearance at state, as will Troy Christian’s Damon Beatty (182 pounds) and Troy Christian’s Ford (138 pounds).
Six county wrestlers will be making their first trips to the state meet — including one who will be making the first trip in school history.
Bethel’s Kellen Calhoun (170 pounds) — the only wrestler in the school — will make history as he becomes the first wrestler from Bethel ever to compete at state. Also making their first trips to state will be: Miami East junior Brenden Dalton (220 pounds), Troy Christian’s Craig Montgomery (170 pounds), Milton-Union’s Dylan Schenck (145 pounds) and Covington’s Keringten Martin (152 pounds) and Gage Kerrigan (195 pounds).
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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