By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Miami County failed to produce a state champion at this year’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament.
There’s no reason to believe, however, county wrestlers won’t make strong runs at the top spot on the podium next year.
Of the 13 wrestlers who qualified for this year’s state tournament, only four were seniors and will not be back again next year. Of the nine state placers, only three were seniors. Miami County’s two state runners-up — Troy Christian junior Ethan Turner and Miami East freshman Max Shore — both will have chances to compete again for state titles next year.
There also are a number of young wrestlers who just missed qualifying for state at the district level who will be back next year, along with several highly-touted local eighth graders who should be wrestling for county high school programs next winter.
It would appear there’s no end in sight for the “Golden Age” of wrestling in Miami County.
And make no mistake, despite Miami County’s ability to bring home a state champion this year, we are living in the most successful era for local high school wrestling in the history of the sport.
Since 2005, this was only the fourth time no local wrestler has captured a title at the state tournament. In 2005, Miami East’s Ryan Gambill captured what would be the first of his three state championships, essentially kickstarting a decade of unprecedented dominance for Miami County wrestling.
Since 2005, Miami County’s schools have combined to win a total of 25 individual state championships. All of those individual titles have been won by Troy Christian (18), Miami East (four) and Covington (three). Troy Christian also won four state titles (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013) and finished as the state runner-up twice during that span.
There’s no other era in the 80-year history of the state wrestling tournament that can even come close to comparing to what Miami County wrestlers have accomplished since 2005.
In the seven decades prior to Miami County’s incredible run of state champs beginning in 2005, the county had produced a grand total of just three state champions — Troy’s Todd Darbyshire in 1982, Milton-Union’s Joe Creech in 1996 and Tippecanoe’s Nathan Jackson in 1999.
Not only did Miami East sophomore Olivia Shore — just the second girl ever to qualify for the state meet and the first ever to win a match in the championship preliminaries — draw the attention of local media, but she also drew state and national attention, as well.
“I think she did a great job of handling everything,” Miami East coach Mark Rose said. “She had everyone watching her every time she stepped out on the mat, but she handed it well. She kept her composure and she didn’t let it bother her.”
While Genoa Area ran away with the Division III team title, Troy Christian remained in the hunt for its third state runner-up trophy until the final day. Ultimately, the Eagles finished fifth in the team standings with 68 points.
“We lost too many close matches,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “You can’t do that over here. You’ve got to win the close matches if you want to be able to contend for some hardware. We didn’t do that. But we can learn from this and try to make another run at it again next year.”
Genoa Area crowned six state champions and won the Division III title with 172 points. That actually broke Troy Christian’s state record for most points scored by a Division III team champion at the state meet. The Eagles previously held the record with 162 points in 2008.
Lakewood St. Edward won the Division I championship with 194 points. Graham won the Division II championship — the program’s 19th in a row — with 123.5 points.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong