Host Clay sent 10 wrestlers to the finals, and eight of them won championships Saturday night as the Eagles repeated their Three Rivers Athletic Conference team title.
Clay, Ohio’s fifth-ranked Division I team, was paced by individual title repeats from seniors Damon Dominique, Eddie Silva, and Jarred Gray, and from sophomore Richie Screptock.
The Eagles posted 238 team points to comfortably top runner-up Central Catholic’s 185. The Irish had three individual champions. St. John’s Jesuit was third at 97. Findlay placed fourth at 92.
Counting the Eagles’ team titles in the City League (2009-11), Clay has won five straight league championships overall.
Clay opened the finals with a title from junior Aaron Henneman at 106 pounds. Henneman (21-9) scored a reversal to take the lead midway in the third period, then fought off a late takedown bid from Central freshman Josh Portillo in the closing seconds to hang on.
The Irish avenged that win when senior Matt Pool pulled off an impressive late rally to beat Clay junior Jared Davis in the 113 final. Pool (26-4) scored a reversal with 14 seconds left in the third period to force overtime, then got a takedown to win 5-3.
The Eagles got back on track in the 120-pound final when Screptock (37-4) won a 6-1 decision against Central sophomore Josh Mossing. Screptock won the TRAC’s 113-pound title a year ago, also beating Mossing in that final.
“It was pretty tough, and I knew it was going to be close because we’ve wrestled each other numerous times,” Screptock said. “It feels good to win it a second time.
“I was more aggressive than I usually am, and I stayed on top of it. I kind of expected this [team finish] because we’ve been working hard, and we deserved to have that many people in the finals.”
In the 126-pound final, Central got its second title when sophomore Nate Hagan (19-4) won 9-4 against Clay senior Brian Henneman. Hagan beat Henneman in last year’s 120-pound TRAC final.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hagan said of his repeat, “and I’m just looking past this now to keep getting better. My goal is to get to state. Clay’s a tough team and they brought all they had. We just didn’t show up as good as we should have.”
Clay, which led 192 to 163.5 over Central entering the finals round, took its third individual title at 132, when junior Gavin Nelson (36-7) coasted 17-0 over Findlay sophomore Jimmy Staschiak.
At 138, Irish freshman Richard Jackson (29-11) shook off a slow start and was stronger late during a 5-4 overtime decision over Fremont Ross sophomore Jordan Weissinger, who led 3-0 after two.
Weissinger was hit with a stalling point with seven seconds left in the third period, and Jackson gained the winning escape point in the extra period.
The match of the night came in the 145-pound final, where Fremont Ross junior Trey Grine outlasted Central junior Alex Mossing to stay perfect at 39-0.
With it tied 3 through regulation and two overtime periods, Grine was able to ride out Mossing (23-3) in the ultimate tiebreaker.
“It was very tough,” Grine said of battling Mossing. “He was a strong dude. This is my first year being undefeated, so I was pretty happy. I just tried hard to hold on. I thought I’d end up getting second place. This is pretty awesome.”
For his tourney efforts and unbeaten season, Grine was voted the TRAC’s wrestler of the year.
Dominique (25-5) repeated his 152-pound TRAC title from 2012 with a 7-3 decision over Central sophomore Colin Kaucher.
“It’s my senior year and I came into the match with the mentality that there was no option to lose,” Dominique said. “I’m in wrestling to win a state title, and I’m more driven than ever right now.”
Clay’s fifth crown of the night came at 160 pounds, when junior Nick Stencel (35-8) pinned Steve Welling of St. Francis de Sales in 3 minutes, 28 seconds.
The Knights cashed in on their second title chance, however, as senior Shelton Evans (29-3) followed with a 7-4 decision over Findlay senior Taylor Opp at 170.
St. Francis reached a third straight final but junior Zach Uram was pinned at 5:47 of the 182-pound final by Clay freshman Matt Stencel (25-5).
Silva (32-6), who won a TRAC title at 170 last year, bumped up to take the 195-pound championship in impressive fashion, taking a 16-0 technical fall over Central sophomore Michael Gregory.
“This is another great win for us, and this is the best team we’ve every had,” Silva said.
Gray, Clay’s final champion, returned to action last week after aggravating a right knee injury Dec. 16. He raised his record to 12-4 this season by repeating his TRAC title at 220, winning 8-0 against St. John’s senior Peter Krull.
“My conditioning’s a little bit better [than Wednesday], but not a whole lot,” Gray said. “Going into the third period, luckily we had two blood [timeouts] and injury time, so I had a little time to catch my breath.”
Capping the tournament, Whitmer senior Marquise Moore (26-0) claimed the 285-pound title with a hard-fought 3-2 decision over St. Francis senior Sam Burns.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.