By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Familiar foes, four district champions, a team title and a history-making feat.
Miami County’s schools had a huge day at the Division III district wrestling finals Saturday at Hobart Arena, with Miami East’s Olivia Shore (106) placing fourth to become only the state’s second girl to qualify for the OHSAA state tournament, as well as four area wrestlers — Covington’s Kellan Anderson (106) and Keringten Martin (152), Miami East’s Max Shore (113) and Troy Christian’s Nick Baker (220) — all winning individual district championships and the Eagles winning in the team standings.
• Shores Advance
Last year, Olivia Shore advanced to the district semifinals, only to drop three matches in a row and fall short of her goal of qualifying for the state tournament as a freshman, leaving her disappointed.
She wasn’t about to let the same thing happen again.
Facing Lima Central Catholic’s Gavin Caprella in the get-to-state consolation semifinal round, Shore scored a late escape to take a one-point lead and avoided a takedown in the final 10 seconds to win 2-1, sealing her spot at next week’s D-III state tournament. In the process, Shore became only the second female wrestler in Ohio history to qualify for the state tournament, the other being Mantua Crestwood’s Paige Nemec in the D-II state tournament in the 2009-10 season.
“Awesome, awesome. I can’t even describe how it feels to be honest,” Shore said afterward.
Shore lost to Troy Christian’s Caleb Schroer in the semifinals to drop to the consolation bracket but fought her way back to qualify. She later placed fourth, defaulting to Legacy Christian’s Matt Ellis in the finals.
“I knew my semifinal match was going to be tough, so I was a little nervous for that,” she said. “But in the blood round to go to state, I was more confident. My first two matches this weekend were against tough kids, and I beat them pretty solidly. That was the first time I’d wrestled Caprella — he’s lost to some kids I beat and he’s beat some kids I lost to, so I knew it’d be pretty close. But I just wrestled my match.”
But even though she has now checked that box on the to-do list and qualified for state, Shore isn’t done. Just adding more boxes.
“The best a girl has even done at state is win one match. So my goal now is to win two,” she said. “But I also really want to make the podium, for sure.”
She won’t be alone at state, either.
Younger brother Max Shore (113) — a freshman this season — won a district title, defeating returning state placer Cael Vanderhorst from Covington 5-2 in the finals.
“Good, man. I’ve been wanting to show everyone where I’m at,” Max Shore said when asked how it felt to be a district champion. “I’ve been working hard all season, and I want to be a state champ.”
Max Shore got an early takedown and held a 3-1 lead after two periods, and when Vanderhorst closed the score to 3-2 with an escape early in the third, Shore was able to score another takedown with 34 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“I was going to try to keep it tight,” Shore said of his gameplan. “I knew I’d have to move more on my feet, but coach (Mark Rose) and I have been working a lot on technique coming up to this match. I felt pretty good (after going up 3-0), and I was just looking for another takedown to seal the deal.”
And his entire match, Olivia could be heard shouting encouragement from the sidelines.
“It’s exciting,” Olivia Shore said. “I missed out going to state with my brother Graham when he won a state title last year. But I think Max has a really good chance to win it this year, and I’m excited that I get to be in his corner.”
“You know, it’s big for me to go to state. But for her, especially being the second girl in history to make it, it’s a great accomplishment,” Max Shore said.
• Buccs Win Two
No one has beaten Covington’s Kellan Anderson (106) this season.
And only one person has defeated Milton-Union’s Dylan Schenck (152) this year — Covington’s Keringten Martin. Fives times now.
The two Buccaneers both won district championships Saturday, with Anderson holding off Troy Christian’s Schroer in a wild 14-9 decision and Martin going up early and recording a 6-2 win over Schenck.
For Anderson, who improved to 49-0 with the win, the championship match — which had seen a flurry of scrambles and back-and-forth battling throughout, as well as a near pinfall by Schroer in the second period — all came down to the closing seconds, with the score tied 9-9 with 21 seconds to go. With eight seconds on the clock, Anderson scored a reversal and three near-fall points to seal the win.
“It feels awesome,” Anderson said. “I knew all I had to do was get one. I saw an opportunity to get more, so I went and got five.”
The two have faced off plenty, including twice during the postseason last year and again in the sectional finals a week ago.
“When I first wrestled him at sectionals last year, he beat me in double-overtime. Then I saw him a week later at districts, had nothing to lose and beat him 10-2 in my match to get to state,” Anderson said. “I saw him at the (GMVWA) Holiday this year and pinned him, then I saw him again last week and beat him 3-0 in the sectional final. It’s crazy.
“I was really scared (when Schroer nearly pinned Anderson in the second period). I was ahead, and then he caught that, and I just thought ‘I can’t give up this.’ So I just rolled him through and got out of it.”
Being undefeated going into state has Anderson eyeing a title there, too.
“Going to state last year, it was a great experience, and it also helped develop my mindset,” he said. “I’m not going to let just anybody beat me. I’m a state placer, and I have to defend my pride. I think that’s helped me this year.”
Martin, entering his district title match with a 49-2 record, also came in confident — Schenck entered the match with a 40-4 record, with all four of those losses coming at the hands of Martin, including in the sectional title match last week, as well.
And Martin took charge early, scoring a takedown midway through the first period to go up 2-0 and adding a pair of second-period takedowns to take a 6-2 lead, riding it out in the third from there to win.
“It feels amazing,” Martin said of winning a district title. Last year, he placed fourth and qualified for state. “It’s outstanding. All of my hard work I’ve put in my whole life, it’s right here. This is what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid, that feeling winning that match when everyone is watching you and cheering for you. It’s crazy.
“Fifth time this year (against Schenck). It’s been tough, though. When you wrestle somebody that many times, it’s like someone you practice with. You know everything about each other and it’s hard to score. I just did what I had to do.”
Knowing what to expect, though, Martin was able to gameplan for the match — and he executed it to perfection.
“The goal was to go ahead early,” he said. “Normally, I score my points at the end of matches, but my mentality in this one was to come in, get the first takedown and go. That’s what I needed to do, and I did it.”
• TC Team Champs
With all of the other Eagles struggling in the finals, it all came down to senior Nick Baker (220).
Baker wasn’t phased by the fact that Troy Christian’s wrestlers were winless in the day’s final session, though.
“I was a little nervous, but I always try to keep a light mood,” he said. “I don’t like feeling all nervous and tense.”
Whatever he did to stay calm, it worked as Baker pinned Delphos St. John’s’ Trent Vonderwell in 1:03 — the first pin recorded in championship matches all day long — to give the Eagles a district champion as they wrapped up the team title with 147.5 points.
“I try to focus on the match more and just picture my hand getting raised after, just keep my mentality as light and positive as I can,” Baker said. “This feels pretty great. Last year, I was a state alternate, and I hadn’t placed here before that. I’m pretty excited (to go to state for the first time). I’m ready.”
The Eagles had seven wrestlers qualify for state, but Baker was the only one to win a district title.
After Schroer finished second and Troy Kennedy (113) placed fourth, losing to Coldwater’s Brian Chmielewski 3-1 in the consolation final, returning state champion Ethan Turner (126) faced off against Legacy Christian freshman Gavin Brown in an epic match that went all the way to a seventh and final tie-breaking period tied 1-1. But Turner simply couldn’t record an escape in the 30 seconds, with Brown clinging on by his back foot to hand Turner a second-place finish.
Austin Awan (138) then lost to National Trail’s Peyton Lane in a sectional finals rematch, falling by 7-2 decision, and Ryan Whitten (145) lost by 5-3 decision to LCC’s Joey Caprella. Craig Montgomery (170) then lost in yet another sectional finals rematch to Madison’s Devin Oligee by a 5-1 decision, leaving it all up to Baker in the end.
“It was getting painful there, 0-6 in the finals,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “But overall, it was a good tournament. It was good to get the team title, which we had locked up going into the finals, and I was proud of Nick. We learned some lessons this weekend — and it was a good time to learn them, too, going into next week. Now we’ll get ready to go from here. The kids know what to expect next week.”
• More Placers
After 13 wrestlers qualified for state in the top four places — 11 of those wrestling in district title matches — a handful also placed on the weekend.
Covington was the runner-up in the team standings with 99.5 points. In addition to its three state qualifiers, Austin Flick (145) placed fifth, defeating Mechanicsburg’s Isaac Bryant by default, and Gavin McReynolds (182) placed sixth.
Miami East was seventh with 74.5 points. In addition to its two state qualifiers, David Davis (120) placed fifth, defeating Mechanicsburg’s Luke Stroud 4-2. Jarret Winner (182) placed fifth, defeating Covington’s McReynolds 5-3 in overtime. And Brenden Dalton (220) placed fifth, defeating Tri-County North’s Clayton Finney 9-3.
Milton-Union finished 16th with 41 points, with Schenck being the Bulldogs’ only placer.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.