By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TROY — After years of near-misses, Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst didn’t want his team to leave anything to chance.
And it didn’t.
The Covington wrestling team — which had placed second at the Troy Invitational four times in the past eight years — had the title wrapped up before the finals even began Saturday at the Trojan Activities Center, then claimed six championships as the Buccaneers blasted their way to first place with 241.5 points. It was Covington’s first Troy Invitational title since 2010.
Miami East took second place with 161.5 points, while Greenville was third with 160 points. The host Troy team finished 13th with 47 points.
“We’ve got great kids and were able to get ourselves a big lead going into the finals,” Vanderhorst said. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to catch us in the finals, which is nice. Once we had the title in hand, our kids were able to come out in the finals and just wrestle hard.”
Not only did the Buccaneers capture six individual championships, but all six came in dominating fashion. At 106 pounds, Kellan Anderson pinned Wayne Trace’s Jarrett Hornish — who had been undefeated coming into that match — in 3:19. At 113, Cael Vanderhorst defeated Wayne Trace’s Gabe Sutton by technical fall, 16-0.
At 138, Austin Flick defeated Greenville’s Dean Hurd by a 14-4 major decision. At 152, Keringten Martin pinned Wayne’s Mason Lawson in just 1:14. Duncan Cooper (170) pinned Delphos St. John’s Mark Wrasman in 4:43.
“It’s always nice when you can get those emphatic, dominant wins when you are wrestling in the finals,” Vanderhorst said. “I’m happy with how our kids wrestled. Like any coach, you always see things you can improve on, but we’ll work on those things before our next match.”
Also placing for the Buccaneers were: Gavin McReynolds (second at 182), Riley Richards (third at 132), Dylan Burns (fourth at 160), Jesse Fisher (seventh at 220) and David Robinson (eighth at 145).
“I think we wrestled really well, especially when you consider we weren’t totally healthy,” Vanderhorst said. “We’ve got a couple of kids who are in concussion protocol, which is something you don’t see too much in wrestling, and some kids who are still nursing some football injuries that we are hoping we can get healthy.
“We’ve just got a good group of kids, which is what I want. To me, it’s more important to have good kids than to have good wrestlers. That’s what we want in our program.”
For Miami East, David Davis (126) captured the team’s lone championship Saturday, pinning Greenville’s Riley Slade in 1:13 in the title match. Also placing for the Vikings were: Max Shore (second at 120), Eli Strubler (third at 145), Jarrett Winner (third at 182), Brenden Dalton (third at 220), Garrett Kowalak (fourth at 132), Matthew Welker (fifth at 170) and Caleb Snyder (seventh at 285).
“For us to have a couple of kids out, I thought we wrestled pretty well,” Miami East coach Mark Rose said. “I thought David Davis wrestled extremely well. This was Brenden Dalton’s first tournament of the year, and I thought he wrestled well for being a little rusty. I’m happy with how we wrestled, but we are always striving to get better.”
Troy had to rely largely on its younger wrestlers and first-year competitors Saturday. Zach Evans (106) placed fourth, David McGraw (160) placed sixth, Nic Matthews (132) placed seventh, Joe Cusick (152) placed eighth and Ethan Freed (285) placed eighth.
“Our younger kids and our new kids really stepped up,” Troy coach Doug Curnes said. “I’m very happy with how David McGraw wrestled — he had a heck of a day — and with our how underclassmen performed. Our young kids showed a lot of promise for the years to come. They were definitely one of our positives of the day.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong