By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
Pay day is almost here.
A year’s worth of hard work, dedication and dieting will pay off Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus for 13 Miami County wrestlers as they begin competing in the three-day Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament, which annually provides one of the greatest spectacles in Ohio high school sports.
Included in this year’s group are seven wrestlers from Troy Christian, three from Covington, two from Miami East and one from Milton-Union. All 13 will compete in Division III. There are six returning state qualifiers, three former state placers and one returning state champion. Also included in the group is just the second girl in history to qualify for the state tournament.
Here’s a look at the 13 local state placers, along with their first-round competition:
• Caleb Schroer (1o3 pounds) — Schroer, a junior, will be making his first trip to the state meet after placing third at districts over the weekend. Schroer, 32-10 this season, will face Gates Mills Hawkins freshman Patrick Reineke (41-7) in the opening round). The winner goes on to face the winner of Barnesville freshman Grifen Stephen (36-8) vs. Oak Harbor freshman Michael Judge (28-7)
• Troy Kennedy (113) — Kennedy (32-11), a freshman, faces a tough task in the opening round as he meets Milton Edison sophomore Casey Barnett (57-1). Barnett was the state champion last year at 106 pounds. The winner will meet the winner of Columbiana senior Brandy Virden (26-7) vs. Caldwell senior Marshal Niswonger (37-8).
• Ethan Turner (126) — Last year, Turner (32-4) captured a state title at 113 pounds as a sophomore. The year before, he placed third at state. This year, Turner’s bid to capture a second state title begins in the first round against Independence senior Michael Kucera (38-13). The winner will face the winner of Newcomerstown junior Gavin Waver (45-3) vs. Swanton senior Zach Schaller (39-12).
• Austin Awan (138) — Awan (27-9), a sophomore, will be making his debut at state. In the first round, he’ll face Newark Catholic senior J.T. Brown (33-17). In the next round, the winner almost certainly would face Genoa Area’s Dylan D’Emilio (50-3), a three-time state champion who will wrestle at Ohio State next year.
• Ryan Whiten (145) — Whitten (33-3), a senior, will wrestle West Salem Northwestern senior Cael Rowling (31-2), a three-time state placer. The winner will move on to face the winner of Genoa Area senior Dustin Morgillo (46-3) vs. Sandy Valley senior Jacob Newell (42-9).
• Craig Montgomery (170) — A state qualifier last year, Montgomery (31-8), a junior, will wrestle Waynedale junior Michah Hershberger (39-5) in the first round. The winner meets the winner of Martins Ferry sophomore Kameron Hughes (30-16) vs. Gibsonburg senior Brad Mendonza (41-1), a two-time state placer.
• Nick Baker (220) — Baker (34-3), a senior, will be making his first trip to the state meet. He faces Wellington senior Mike Casella (38-12) in the first round. The winner moves on to face the winner of North Union senior Dylan Thompson (35-9) vs. Elmwood junion Will Bechstein (41-10).
• Kellan Anderson (106 pounds) — Anderson (49-0) placed sixth at state last year as a freshman. This year, he faces Norwayne sophomore Jarrison Moore (36-10) in the first round. The winner will meet the winner of Eastwood freshman Gavin Owens (44-2) vs. Sugarcreek Garaway freshman Kyle Miller (29-12).
• Cael Vanderhorst (113) — Vanderhorst (47-5) placed eighth at state last year as a freshman. This year, he wrestles Eastwood sophomore Bryce Maynard (38-11) in the first round. The winner will wrestle the winner of North Union senior Tarren Riffle (36-8) vs. Rootstown sophomore Caleb Edwards (43-4), who placed third at state last year.
• Keringten Martin (152) — Martin (50-2), a senior, was a state qualifier last year. In the first round, he’ll face Swanton senior Ryan Martin (40-5) who placed eighth at 160 pounds last year. The winner will face the winner of Mogadore sophomore Nick Skye (47-8) vs. Newark Catholic senior Billy Luft (34-5), who placed sixth at state last year.
• Olivia Shore (106 pounds) — Shore (23-8), a sophomore, is just the second girl ever to qualify for the Ohio state wrestling tournament. She’ll face Mantua Crestwood junior Brett Szuhay (43-2), who placed eighth at state last year, in the first round. The winner will face the winner of Shenandoah sophomore Alex Overly (35-5) vs. Milan Edison freshman Alec Homan (49-9).
• Max Shore (113): Shore (43-3), a freshman, is the younger brother of Olivia and former East state champion Graham Shore. He’ll open against Liberty Center senior Cmaeron Henneman (38-12). The winner will face the winner of Mantua Crestwood senior Dominic Savoca (42-6) vs. Nelsonville-York senior Collin Yinger, a two-time state placer.
• Dylan Schenck (152 pounds) — Schenck (40-5), a senior, is a returning state qualifier. He opens this year against Liberty Center senior Tyler Kay (42-9). The winner will face the winner of Elyria Catholic senior Steven Ferguson (25-5) vs. Nelsonville-York junior Noah Inboden (36-5), a state placer last year.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong