By Garth Shanklin
Technical issues and withdrawals plagued the Division III, Region 23 bracket, but once the matches were finished a pair of local teams emerged to face off against each other in the semifinals.
Clermont Northeastern was originally scheduled to host five schools in their half of the regional bracket, but thanks to withdrawals from the tournament the Rockets ended up with a bye to the finals, as did Aiken High School, their opponent.
Aiken won the first match via forfeit and the second as Qwuantez little defeated Shawna Ross 4-0. CNE then went on a roll, with Seth Teaney pinning Lee Gaines at 120 and Sam Petterson defeating Tyrell McClain via tech fall (16-1) at 126. The Rockets won four of the next five weight classes via forfeit, the lone exception being the 152-pound class, where CNE’s Joey Putnam pinned Dallas Rice in 2:59.
Once the wrestling began again, Aiken’s Keoni Jones pinned Luke Rayburn in 4:59 at the 170-pound bout. David Pride pinned Jawonya Johnson in 1:45 for CNE, followed by Hayden Mattes pinning Camren Holingsworth in 34 seconds.
Aiken’s Stanley Dixon (220) and Donte Ballinger (285) both pinned their opponents, but CNE had already clinched what became a 53-27 win to advance to the regional semifinals.
Their opponent would be whichever team emerged from Williamsburg High School, where the Wildcats were hosting Bethel-Tate, Reading and Madeira.
The host Wildcats started the day with a 14-4 loss in the 106-pound class, as Kobe Jones defeated Ridgeway Miller. Madeira won the 113-pound class via forfeit, and both teams forfeited the 120-pound match.
In 126, Frederick Kyser pinned Stephanie Abrams in 25 seconds. Jackson Hugentobler pinned Ezra Wallace in 58 seconds, and Madeira led 22-0.
Williamsburg forfeited two more matches and trailed 34-0 before winning their first bout of the dual, a 18-13 victory by Wyatt Lefker over Marshall Rapp in the 152-pound class. Joseph Bechtol kept the winning going with a pin of Aidan Mitchell in 18 seconds, and Andrew Hatter won the 170-pound match via forfeit.
With the score 34-15 Madeira, Ky’ree Mccray-brown won the 182-pound bout via forfeit. Gavin Barnhart won his bout in the 195-pound class via forfeit, as did Brian Stears in the 285-pound class. The 220-pound match was won by Andrew Whitson, who pinned Ivan Wallace in 2:40. Williamsburg lost the dual 46-27.
One mat over, the defending regional champion Bethel-Tate Tigers were battling Reading.
Wilber Compress defeated Bethel-Tate’s Joe Reinert in the 106-pound match in a major decision (13-4), but the Tigers won the next three bouts. Zach Gutknecht pinned Hannah Sands in 3:15, Trey Sander pinned Orlando Smith in 2:44, and Donnie Harrison pinned Jeremiah Hemphill-McDonald in 1:11.
Dustin Robins snapped the losing streak for Reading with a pin of Austin Carter, followed by a 7-3 decision win by Colton Robins over Mike Whittington. Issia Johnson defeated Jonah Blankenship 14-2 in a major decision, the final win of the match for Reading.
Matt Hall pinned Sam Conner in 2:30 at 152, followed by Cooper Dunn pinning Cooper Scott in 2:50.
The 170, 182 and 195-pound classes were all forfeited to the Tigers, and Bradley Lewis pinned Eric Tuttle in 1:30 at 220. The final match of the dual went to Bethel-Tate’s Jayce Glenn, who pinned Kevin Sanders in 3:24 to clinch a 60-17 Bethel-Tate win.
The regional quarterfinal bout between the Tigers and Madeira was not close. Gutknecht pinned Poole in 1:36 to start, followed by a Madeira forfeit at 120. Sander pinned Kyser in 1:02, and Harrison won the 132-pound match via forfeit.
Whittington defeated Curtis Flores via tech fall (18-3) at 138. Both teams forfeited 145.
Blankenship defeated Rapp 9-3 at 152, and Hall pinned Mitchell in 1:04. In the 170-pound class, Dunn pinned Sergi Grajera Pascual in 36 seconds, followed by Holtke pinning Mccray-Brown in 40 seconds.
Nate Owens won the 195-pound bout via forfeit, as did Glenn at 285. Bradley Lewis pinned Whitson in 1:25, and Reinert finished the dual with a pin of Jones in 1:22 to clinch a shutout for the Tigers, who defeated Madeira 74-0 in the dual.
Bethel-Tate wrestled against CNE in the regional semifinals for the second straight year. The Tigers defeated the Rockets 58-15 en route to the state quarterfinals.
Two other schools, Brookville and Blanchester, also competed in the Region 23 semifinals, with the Wildcats serving as host. The results of the duals were not available before press time.