Tri-County North was looking to add a fourth consecutive Panther Invitational Championship trophy to the trophy case, but the host Panthers came up three points shy, and placed second behind Thurgood Marshall, while fellow county team National Trail placed third. Twin Valley South was seventh on Saturday, Jan. 11.
“We came up just short of the task at hand,” North coach Brad Statzer said. “I don’t like saying that I’m satisfied because we can always do better. Some bad draws or simply mistakes during matches that ended up costing us points. All and all, we didn’t wrestle to bad.”
Statzer said his team is young and still learning.
“We are young. With no seniors on the team, there are areas that we are growing in daily. One is that when we are able to win we do so by pinning our opponents or scoring much needed bonus points for our team,” Statzer said.
North had two individual champions in 195-pound junior Colton Booth and 113-pound sophomore Anthony Jacobs. Also placing for the Panthers in their respective weight classes were junior Wes Morrow, junior Dustin Green, junior Blake Lawson, junior Reilly Lipinski, freshmen Kyle Sykes and junior Nick Gray.
For National Trail, the Blazers finished with three fourth-place finishes, two third-place finishes, and had three champions.
“This was easily the best the team has ever performed and quite an accomplishment for a young group of wrestlers,” Trail coach Michael Eyler said.
“I was incredibly proud of my team this weekend. Last year we finished fifth in the tournament, and this year we got third. It’s amazing what numbers and work ethic can accomplish, especially when you’ve got such a hardworking team. I’m privileged to have such a team, and excited to work with them since we’re young and have lots of room for growth. I can’t tell you the last time Trail placed eight boys on the podium especially since just last year we only had six wrestlers.
“I think the trophy they brought home this weekend was a great source of validation for the boys, showing them just what their work in the practice room can accomplish. It was especially exciting because there hasn’t been a wrestling trophy in a very long time, and this young team changed that.”
Sophomore 145-pounder Austin Moore won his second tournament of the year, and placed for the third time.
“He had one of the toughest roads to the top in the entire tournament, wrestling solid opponents from TCN, Thurgood Marshall, and Triad,” Eyler said. “I’ve said it all year that Austin isn’t settling for anything other than the top. He pushes himself during practice and it’s paid off. He’s stronger and faster than I’ve ever seen him and very aware of what he’s doing on the mat.”
Junior Zach Sullivan continued to dominate at 170 pounds, easily besting all of his opponents.
“Zach continues to be one of the most focused wrestlers I’ve ever seen on the mat. He’s wrestling very well and continuing to learn new tricks and honing his repertoire,” Eyler said. “Like Austin, he’s looking to go far this season and it shows both in the practice room and in competition.
Freshman Ben Sullivan added a first place finish, his first of the season, at 220 pounds.
“Ben had a great day of wrestling, going undefeated and winning over some tough opponents. He’s a young wrestler, but he’s got a lot of skill and experience on the mat. He’s another wrestler that should go far this season,” Eyler said.
At 120 pounds, freshman Robert Nave placed third.
“Robert has stuck with it all season. This tournament was the best he’s done all year and really shows how much he’s grown since December,” Eyler said.
Sophomore Tyler Browning took fourth place at 132 pounds.
“Tyler wrestled very well. He’s gained a lot of confidence since the beginning of the season and is showing a lot of improvement on the mat,” Eyler said. “He’s got a lot of potential and I think his podium finish showed him that he’s got the ability to do well. I’m excited to see what he can do the rest of the season.”
At 138 pounds, freshman Josh Cook placed fourth, as well. “Josh had been wrestling up at 152 pounds as he tried to get down to 138, obviously it paid off as he placed for the first time this year,” Eyler noted. “Josh has really started to show his chops and has a lot of ability. He just needs experience at this point since he’s such a young wrestler. I think we’re going to see good things from him in the future.”
Other who placed for the Blazers were Cody Hapner and Levi Markley.
For Twin Valley South, the Panthers had three reach the podium.
Caleb Worley won the 106 pound weight class and Chase Sochacki took the top spot at 138 pounds. Sammy Shockey was third at 138 pounds.
National Trail is off until Friday and Saturday, Jan, 24-25, when they are scheduled to be at the Eaton Invitational.
Tri-County North is scheduled to visit Dixie on Wednesday, Jan. 15, before traveling to the Triad Invitational on Saturday.
Twin Valley South will next compete at Ben Logan on Saturday, Jan. 25.