Another year, another stellar showing by the Jonathan Alder High School wrestling program as it hosted the annual Ron Thomas Sr. Invitational Saturday, Jan. 21.
The tournament which is named after the school’s current and longtime wrestling coach went off without anything as simple as a hiccup. The coach credits the countless number of volunteers who worked all day long to help make things go.
“Things went really well,” Thomas said. “I thought our kids wrestled well and the tournament ran smoothly.
“The volunteers are a big reason why this tournament runs so well. You need people to run the clocks and score and all that stuff. You can’t just throw anybody out there. We have a number of guys who wrestled here, parents of wrestlers or former wrestlers who have come back to help us, it’s been great. We couldn’t do it without all of them.”
The events on the mat also went well, as a deep and talented Bexley team (286.5 points) edged past West Jefferson (237.5) for the team championship. Big Walnut, the 2016 champion, scored 188 points to finish third. The host Pioneers were fourth (169.5), they were followed by Kettering Alter (148.5), Columbus West (88), Centennial (41) and Johnstown-Monroe (25.5).
Bexley which features a senior-laden team with nine returning district qualifiers was able to win the title over a West Jeff team with a couple state championship contenders of its own. The Lions had six wrestlers win championships Saturday, while the Roughriders had four of their own. Alder had a pair of championship winners.
“The tournaments we go to are tough. Our tournament had some really good teams and some teams that weren’t as good which gave some of our younger guys a chance to compete and maybe win a match or two,” Thomas said.
The Pioneers weight class champions included Jacob Johnson at 120 and Zane Johnson at 126. Alder also had a trio of wrestlers make the finals but settle for runner-up finishes. They were Braiden Leisure (113), Sam Chapman (132) and Dylan Boysel (182).
“We thought Sam had a chance to win it and he got to the finals,” the coach said. “Dylan wrestled well, got to the finals but made a mistake and that costs you against a good wrestler. Our 113 pounder also did a great job.”
West Jeff’s talented duo of Josh Doherty (160) and Jake Burns (195) were the top seeds in their respective weight classes and had little trouble in winning championships. Their Roughriders teammates Damir Pereira (138) and David Staten (113) also won championships at the Ron Thomas Sr. Invitational.
Thomas’s team will have one final regular season tournament at River Valley in a couple weeks and then like everyone else will turn their attention to their league tourney and the upcoming postseason.
“It’s coming fast, hopefully we’ll be ready to go,” Thomas said.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.