By Chris Chaney
Coming off of back-to-back state championships, Clermont County wrestling is well on its way to improve that mark to three straight despite losing Goshen’s Chaz Gresham to graduation.
Across three divisions, 40 wrestlers in total will compete in this weekend’s district tournament after finishing in the top-4 of their respective sectionals. All nine schools in the county who wrestle will be represented at districts.
Eight individuals from four different schools were crowned sectional champions with seven others coming up just short, finishing runners-up in their weight divisions.
Bethel-Tate and New Richmond in Division II lead the way to districts with eight individuals each qualifying for the district tournament. Both boast a trio of sectional champions, all of whom were expected to not only qualify for districts, but also make a run at the state title.
For Bethel, Aric Peters at 120 lbs., Brian Carter at 126 lbs. and Chip Ratcliff at 132 lbs. all took home the sectional championship. Further perpetuating their prowess, Southern Buckeye Conference Coach of the Year, Tom Donahue and Co-Wrestler of the Year Chip Ratcliff will take the Tigers to a familiar site on Feb. 22 and 23.
Other qualifiers for Bethel included five fourth-place finishers in Travis Bee at 113 lbs., Jacob Phillips at 138 lbs., Tyler Krekeler at 152 lbs., Austin Kinnard at 160 lbs. and Creighton Newberry at 285.
New Richmond’s accolades are very similar to that of Bethel, also having three sectional champions. The Lions also had a pair of runners-up, two third-place finishers and one fourth placer.
While the Tigers staked their claim in the lighter weight classes, the Lions’ strength came on the heavier end of the scale. Their three sectional champions were Kevin Reed at 170 lbs., James White at 182 lbs. and JR Forsee at 285 lbs. Both Reed and Foresee were conference champions as well. White finished second in the SBC.
Clay Loadman at 145 lbs. and Nathan Dixon at 220 lbs., both lost by decision in the championship round, settling for runners-up finishes. Nathan Rostetter at 113 and Justin Patrick at 195 both won their third-place matches while Tristan Williams lost at 126 to finish fourth.
Glen Este was the class of the Division I sectional, sending on six top-4 placers, including sectional champion Matt Sicurella at 126 lbs. The Trojans’ Gage Branson finished in second in the 106 class, while Brandon Smith came in third in the 120 lbs. division. Matthew Kennedy at 170 lbs., Clayton McCune at 220 lbs. and Seth Crissman at 285 lbs. all qualified with fourth-place finishes.
Back in Division II, Goshen has kept their program near the top of the pack, sending five wrestlers upstate following the sectional meet, led by Sterling Briggs (138 lbs.) and Connor Rahm (160 lbs.) who both finished second in their weight class.
Connor’s brother, Tanner finished in third at 126 lbs. while Alan Fastovich (120 lbs.) and Jacob Moore (220 lbs.) both came in fourth.
Rounding out the Division II sectional were Clermont Northeastern and Batavia, both of whom sent three qualifiers to districts. The Bulldogs’ pair of Caleb Rose (152 lbs.) and Gabe Archer (195 lbs.) were runners-up and Sam Humbert (132 lbs.) was a third-place finisher.
For the Rockets, Chad Wendell had the best finish, qualifying in the third-place spot for the 120 lbs. weight class. Both Seth Chambers (106 lbs.) and Josh Forkner (182 lbs.) came in fourth.
In Division III, the Williamsburg Wildcats proved to be a force, sending three wrestlers to districts led by sectional champion Kendal Johnson (106 lbs.). Shane Jeffers (152 lbs.) and Billy Cadawaller (285 lbs.) will join Johnson as fourth-place finishers.
Milford and Amelia both qualified one wrestler each to the district this Friday and Saturday. Amelia’s Andy Clolinger came in third in the 106 lbs. weight class and Milford’s Jack Noll finished fourth at 160 lbs.
The district championship will be competed on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23 across all divisions with wrestlers from Division I wrestling at Fairfield High School, Division II at Goshen High School and Division III at Kettering Fairmont High School.