Clay continued its dominance on the mat, aided by four victories via forfeit in capturing a Division I regional wrestling dual-meet championship with an easy 54-13 win Wednesday night against visiting Sidney.
The Eagles were paced by pins from seniors Brian Henneman and Eddie Silva, and from junior Jared Davis.
The win sends the fifth-ranked Eagles to the eight-team state level of Ohio’s first team tournament, which will be held Saturday at St. John Arena in Columbus. Clay’s state quarterfinal match is set for 11 a.m. Its opponent will be determined after reseeding today.
This advancement to a state tournament in a team event is only the second in school history for Clay. The 1979 Eagles baseball team won the Class AAA state championship.
“It’s never easy,” said Clay coach Ralph Cubberly of the final score, which made a case to the contrary. “The kids wrestled really well. Sidney’s got a good team, but we wanted to break that [33-year drought] of no Clay team going to state.
“I love this team tournament. I think it’s great for wrestling. It’s a lot more fan friendly with a two-hour match instead of eight hours on the weekend. It’s good for the parents and awesome for wrestling. These guys are getting better every day, and I just can’t wait for Saturday.”
After spotting the Yellow Jackets a 4-0 lead on Kyle Pierce’s 20-7 major decision against Aaron Henneman, Clay bounced back to win the next four matches — two by falls — to grab a 19-4 advantage.
Davis started that surge by pinning Sidney’s Jacob Sharp in 2 minutes, 44 seconds of their 113-pound tilt.
“I tried to turn him in the first period, and I was kind of getting frustrated because he was fighting it pretty hard,” Davis said. “In the second period I sort of turned it on. I cradled him up and stuck him.
“This is a great feeling. This was one of our main goals. You want to get to state in the individual tournament, too, but some kids won’t get to do that. So, this is where they get their chance to go to state.”
After Richie Screptock took a 14-0 major decision over the Jackets’ Alex Willman at 120 pounds, Eagles 126-pounder Brian Henneman pinned Sidney’s Jared Tangeman in 4:52.
“I was trying to work my tilts and I couldn’t get them, so I went for the arm bar,” Henneman said. “I rolled him over and pinned him.
“Everybody’s excited about being the first team from Clay to get to state in more than 30 years, so we were mentally focused on it.”
Clay’s roll continued with Gavin Nelson’s 8-1 decision over Rhett Rosengarten at 132, before Yellow Jackets 138-pounder Mason Calvert stopped the momentum by pinning the Eagles’ Caleb Nelson at 2:59 to get Sidney back within 19-10.
Sidney’s Logan Calvert followed with a 13-8 decision at 145 pounds against Clay’s Darrin Todd to cut the deficit to six at the dual’s midway point.
But the Jackets’ opportunity to advance was already gone, as their incomplete lineup led to three six-point forfeits in the final seven weight classes.
Damon Dominique put Clay up 24-13 with his 16-0 technical fall against Sidney’s Ryan Penley at 152 pounds and, after brothers Nick Stencel and Matt Stencel took forfeit victories at 160 and 170, respectively, the Eagles owned a 36-13 lead with four matches left.
Clay 182-pounder Charlie Amenta then took an 11-4 decision over Jacob Lochard to clinch the regional championship.
Silva pinned Sidney’s Noah Straman in 1:05 at 195 pounds and, after Jarred Gray took the 220-pound match by forfeit, the Eagles closed the night with a 2-1 win by 285-pounder Antonio Zapata over Sidney’s Maurice Ickes.
“I took him down, hit a tilt, and turned him,” Silva said of his quick work. “This is a big deal for us. It’s only Clay’s second team to make it to a state tournament.
“We’ll have a tough match in [the quarterfinals], but I think we’ll succeed and go on to the semifinals.”
Central Catholic rolls, advances to Columbus
CLYDE — Central Catholic topped Clyde 46-15 in the Division II regional final match and will advance to the eight-team state final round Saturday in Columbus.
Josh Portillo won at 106 pounds, Matt Pool at 113, Rosendo Beltran at 120, Josh Mossing at 126, and Nate Hagan at 132.
At 138, Richard Jackson scored a major decision, as did Alex Mossing at 145 and Shawn Murrey at 170.
Chris Norwood and JQuan Fisher rounded out the Irish scoring with pins at 225 and 285, respectively.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com, 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.