Can Troy Christian reclaim D-III title?

02/29/2012

Eagles have been thinking of 2012 D-III title since win last year.
As the Troy Christian High School wrestling team filed out of the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State last March after its ninth-place finish, the mission had already begun to reclaim a Division III state title which it last won in 2009.

“That was the goal when we left last year,” assistant coach Jack Riley said. “We knew we had the two freshmen coming up and had two studs coming back.”

The freshmen, Jarred Ganger (106 pounds) and Garret Hancock (113) both claimed district titles last week as did returners Jordan Marshall (145) and B.J. Toal (182) as the Eagles ran away with the team title.

“If everyone does their part, we have a real good shot this year,” head coach Ty Morgan said. “We need one more great weekend.”

Top-ranked Applecreek-Waynedale has six qualifiers to Troy Christian’s four, so the Eagles know bonus points (major decisions, technical falls and pins) will be crucial to regaining the title.

“We don’t have a lot of room for error,” Morgan said. “If we can get all four in the (championship) finals we clinch it, the key is going to be the bonus points. Being district champs, it puts us in pretty good position to get those points in the first round.”

Pleasant surprise: Heading into the D-I district tournament, Miamisburg coach Willie Wineberg thought he had one lock (Jordan Branham at 126) and one with a good shot at getting out (Kyle Schmidt). But 145-pound sophomore Robert Kersey?

“Kersey just blew my mind going 4-0 on Saturday, beating a wrestler who beat him handily the week before, then getting a pin in the finals,” Wineberg said after Kersey finished third to give the Vikings a trio of state qualifiers. “As a coach, I rarely get to see the culmination of all the work the wrestlers and our coaches put in. We saw great results Saturday.”

Branham and Schmidt both overcame semifinal losses to win in the consolation semis — a round called “Dream Crushers” — to advance to state.

“The consolation semi round is the most dreaded round of the year,” Wineberg said. “Seeing guys who should make it (to state) lose is heartbreaking. We had two wrestlers who had to come back from devastating losses in the semis to go to the state tournament.”

Brotherly advice pays off: Carlisle sophomore Jimmy Sandlin (145) had been through the “Month of Champions” once already, advancing to state last year. This year, little brother Jason (126) got some friendly advice from big brother as the postseason prepared to kick off.

“I told him he needed to get in better shape and needed more options on offense,” Jimmy said.

Jason used Jimmy to get in better shape, battling big brother every day in practice.

“We go hard at practice,” Jimmy said. “He is always trying to beat me ... we push each other.”