And Reflector area athletes wanted most of it at the Firelands Conference Wrestling Championships on Saturday afternoon at Western Reserve High School. A total of eight area wrestlers took home conference titles in the eight team event out of 14 weight classes. Unfortunately for the area schools, Crestview and Mapleton had just too many bodies to compete with for the team title.
The Crestview Cougars took the overall team title with 137 points while the Mounties took 131.5 points coming in second. The Monroeville Eagles were the top dogs of the area schools with 124.5 points followed by St. Paul with 97.5, Western Reserve with 92.5, Plymouth with 83, New London with 79.5 and South Central rounded out the team scoring with 29.
Kicking things off was Western Reserve’s Gage Griffith who won the 106-pound weight class; it was his third conference title of his career. For a kid who calls himself Goliath on Twitter, Griffith wrestled more like David slaying the competition. He grabbed two pins on the day to take the gold. He started his day pinning Arryk Davidson of New London, who ended up taking third in the weight class, then pinned Mapleton’s Hunter Frederick in the final round to give Griffith a spot at the top of the podium in front of his home crowd.
“It is pretty cool,” Griffth said. “It took a lot of hard work and just being smart throughout my entire career about the weight and about how to approach every match. I felt very nervous going into my finals match because I knew Hunter is a great wrestler, but once we shook hands, it was go time and I didn’t let up.”
Griffith earned his 100th career victory earlier this year and will look to take the momentum into sectionals in two weeks.
Bad Man Blanton
South Central’s Dakota Blanton continued to wrestle like a wrecking ball winning the FC title in the 120-pound weight class. He began his day pinning Santiago Fernandez of Mapleton to set up an all-area final with Plymouth’s Cordell Sipe. Blanton pinned Sipe to take the title while Sipe earned second place. Blanton was the 120-pound champion at the Plymouth Invite earlier in the season and continued his success on Saturday.
Western Reserve freshman Tyler Ramage entered Saturday’s tournament as the No. 2 seed in the 126 weight class. He took down Carly Stevens of Crestview with a pin securing his spot in the title bout. Nate Kissinger of Mapleton awaited with the No. 1 seed under his belt. The two battled to an 8-6 decision with Ramage coming out on top and earning the FC title in his first high school wrestling season.
Four and Owen
St. Paul senior Owen Starcher might as well buy real estate on top of the Firelands Conference podium. He earned his fourth trip of his career at the peak of the podium winning the 132-pound weight class on Saturday. Starcher started his day with a pin on Mapleton’s Lucas Cragel followed by a 17-2 tech fall over Jacob Martz of Western in the final round. Starcher capped off his senior year winning the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the lighter divisions.
“It pays off for all of the hard work our coaches put us through all year,” Starcher said of his accomplishments. “We have great guys in the wrestling room every single day and wrestling with guys like Derek Gross and Sam Meyer only makes you better. They kick my butt sometimes and I go right back at them. They made me better.
“Going in, I just wanted to focus on taking it one match at a time and not worry about the 4-time possibility. I wanted to wrestle how I wanted to and not wrestle how my opponents wanted me to.”
Martz took second place while Jacob Echelbarger of Plymouth took third.
St. Paul’s Derek Gross strolled in a dominating force and walked out a 145-weight class, 3-time FC champion. His 39-0 record earned him the top seed in a loaded weight class that featured 100-career win Zach Bene of New London. Gross started his day pinning Caleb Cardman of Monroeville to set up a showdown with Bene in the final. Gross pinned Bene to win the championship bout to improve to 41-0 on the season. Bailey Glavich defeated Cardman for third place.
Millis of the Century
Monroeville’s Colten Millis entered the FC tournament with 98-career wins. He picked up No. 99 to kick off the day pinning Aidan Fry-Silva of Western to punch his ticket to the finals against Beau LeFever of Mapleton. Millis earned an 11-6 decision to win the FC title in the 152 weight class and picked up his 100th career victory in the process.
“I knew I had to just go out and wrestle like I normally would,” Millis said. “I want to make every match I wrestle my best one and I do not even think about the guy across from me. It is special to be able to get win No. 100 during the finals of the Firelands Conference. It was amazing.”
Lone Big Red
Plymouth junior Seth Bailey was the lone champion representing the Plymouth Big Red on Saturday. He took home the 220-weight class FC title for the second time in his career. Bailey came in at just 13-2 after missing most of the season due to knee surgery after sustaining an injury during football. He started his day by pinning Davis Hedrick of St. Paul to earn a spot in the finals against Crestview’s Chandler Prise. Bailey toughed out a 7-3 decision to earn him gold yet again. Montgomery Wells of Monroeville took third in the weight class.
Pull through Leroux
Freshman Trey Leroux of Monroeville rounded out the day of champions winning the 285-weight class over top-seeded Lane Fry of Crestview. Fry came in with a 28-9 record while Leroux hoisted a 21-5 mark. Leroux began his day pinning Cody McKean of New London who ended up taking third place. Leroux then earned a grueling 6-3 decision over Fry in the finals to take home the gold.
Coach of the Year
St. Paul’s Casey Harrington was voted as the Firelands Conference wrestling coach of the year by his fellow coaches after the tournament.
Monroeville, Plymouth, South Central, New London and Western Reserve are back in action on Saturday at Margaretta.