By: Bret Curren
The West Holmes High School wrestling team advanced two wrestlers – Thane Kaufman and Cole Woods – from the ‘2016 Ohio High School Athletic Association Div. II East/Central District Championship Tournament’ held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27 at Claymont High School in Uhrichsville, Ohio to the upcoming 79th Annual O.H.S.A.A. State championship tournament.
Kaufman (Soph., 106 lbs., 3 – 2) and Woods (Sr., 138 lbs., 4 – 2) both finished fourth to earn a trip to the “big dance” while senior Josiah Allison (126 lbs., 3 – 2) just missed out qualifying for the state tournament placing fifth and earning state alternate status.
With a fall win (2:28) over Mason Hamric (Soph., McArthur Vinton County) to open his district tournament Friday, Kaufman reached the semifinals with a dominate 14 – 0 major decision win against David Church (Fr., Minerva). Kaufman faced Ben Pasiuk (Fr., Carrollton) in Saturday’s semifinal round and fought the good fight but lost 10 – 1.
In the consolation semifinal’s Kaufman pocketed an early takedown for the only points scored in the ‘go to’ bout against Abe Frizzell (Soph., Byesville Meadowbrook) for his first state tournament berth. Kaufman then faced Dalton Burcher (Fr., Gnadenhutten Indian Valley) in the third-place match where he dropped a 5 – 0 decision to Burcher.
“It was awesome Thane made his first state tournament”, said Knights head wrestling coach Jeff Woods following the district meet. “Thane’s put in so much work to get to this point. I’m happy for him. He wrestled well all tournament, even the loss in the semifinals and the third place match with Burcher.”
For Cole Woods his tournament was bittersweet. Woods opened with an 18 – 1 tech fall at 5:00 against Ethan Miller (Soph., Lancaster Fairfield-Union) before dropping into the consolation rounds after a tough 5 – 4 quarterfinal loss to Maxx Peters (Soph., Uhrichsville Claymont).
Woods scored two wins (1:32 fall against Tyler Hicks, Jr., New Lexington and a 13 – 4 major decision win over Cortez Gainey, Sr., The Plains Athens) before reaching the consolation quarterfinals round. Woods then eked out a 3 – 2 overtime decision over Anthony Rice (Fr., Steubenville) in the ‘go to’ match, and then dropped a 3 – 1 decision in the third-place match to Hayden Bullard (Sr., Johnstown-Monroe), who Woods had beaten 4 – 1 earlier this year in the opening round of the OHSAA state team duals tournament.
Woods’ state tournament berth was his fourth, making the Knights senior the fourth W.H.H.S. wrestler to qualify for the state tournament all four years of their high school career. Woods joins Clint Sponseller (2000 – 2003), Colt Sponseller (2004 – 2007), and Max Rohskopf (2010 – 2013) in the elite group.
“Cole made it”, said coach Woods and Cole’s father. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but he did what he needed to do to get to state four times. There’s only been three before him. I’m proud of him for getting there four times. But, you look at the top three today and Cole’s beat all of them (champion Jake Martinez – Newark Licking Valley; runner-up Miles Mazik – Wintersville Indian Creek; and Bullard) before. It was just one of those tournaments for him. He’s happy he made it four times but he’s not happy with his performance. So am I.”
Coach Woods was most pleased with the showing Allison gave during the tournament.
Allison made it to the semifinal bout scoring an opening round fall win (5:55) over Ben Kring (Sr., Columbus Bishop Watterson) and a gutty 8 – 5 decision triumph of Justin Shaw (Soph., Carrollton) in the quarterfinals. Allison squared off with Tyliq Stewart (Jr., Whitehall Whitehall-Yearling) for a berth in the championship match and trip to state but lost a hard fought 14 – 9 decision to Stewart.
Dropping into the consolation bracket, Allison suffered a heart-breaking 7 – 0 decision to Chandler Golec (Jr., Uhrichsville Claymont) in the ‘go to’ match ending his chance of ending his career with a state trip. Allison shook off the disappointment in the fifth-place match scoring a deserving 9 – 5 decision victory over Austin Ratliff (Sr., New Lexington) to close out his tournament.
“I’m proud of Thane and Cole making it”, coach Woods said. “But, I’m most proud of Josiah. He showed me a lot in the fifth-place match. He could’ve easily gone through the motions in that match after losing in the semifinals and the consolation semifinals and not making it to state. But he didn’t. He fought hard in every match. It’s great he was able to get fifth and be a state alternate.”
For earning state berths Thane Kaufman and Cole Woods were lauded by coach Woods with the Knights Varsity Wrestling ‘Hammer of the Week’ Award.
Also competing in the district tournament for the Knights were Cody Woods (Jr., 132 lbs.), Michael Kashuba (Sr., 160 lbs.) and Alex Walker (Jr., 195 lbs.) who all finished 1 – 2.
In the team race, the Knights placed 14th in the 47-team field with 48.5 points. Uhrichsville Claymont came from behind to top Steubenville 168.5 to 165 to win the district championship. Carrollton was third with 157 points.