By Bret Curren
A long two days of wrestling for the West Holmes High School varsity wrestling team culminated in their second consecutive team championship at the 42nd Annual Holiday Wrestling Classic, held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 29 and 30 at West Jefferson High School in West Jefferson, Ohio.
Led by championship efforts from Cael Woods (SO, 106 lbs), Tyler Masters (SO, 113 lbs) and Josh Baldridge (JR, 182 lbs) along with runner-up showings from Thane Kaufman (SR, 120 lbs) and Cruz Alexander (SO, 152 lbs), the Knights racked up 432 points, outdistancing team runner-up Ashville Teays Valley (400) and third-place Lancaster Fairfield Union (389) in the 22-team field.
Also placing were fourth-place finisher Skylar Cline (SR, 160 lbs), Hunter Bowling (SO, 138 lbs) with fifth place, sixth-place finishers Colton Bowling (SR, 145 lbs) and Braden Myers (FR, 170 lbs), seventh-place finishers Walker Uhl (SO, 126 lbs) and Stephen Baldridge (FR, 195 lbs), and a 13th-place standing for Jarek Snow (SO, 132 lbs).
The team championship gave the Knights back-to-back titles in the Holiday Classic and also was their third championship in the last four seasons. The first came in 2014 when the Knights made their debut at West Jefferson.
Woods, Masters and Baldridge rolled through their respective weight classes for the championships. Woods cruised to a 7-0 record with 5 fall wins including a quick 0:49 pin of Trey Tuttamore (Pemberville Eastwood ‘B’). Masters topped Brandon Hahn (Pemberville Eastwood) with a dominating 13-4 major decision win in the title match, giving him a 7-0 mark including four fall wins. Baldridge racked up a 9-0 mark, chalking up six fall wins and capped his championship with a 7-0 decision triumph over Jared Kremer (Franklin) for his second straight W-J tournament title.
Kaufman’s only blemish came in the championship match when he dropped a hard-fought 3-1 decision to returning state placer Trey Finnearty (Circleville), giving Kaufman, a two-time state qualifier, a 6-1 mark with three falls for his work. Alexander went 7-1 with four fall wins over the two days, losing only to Cody Mayes (Westerville Central) by a 6-1 mark.
Wrestling as B team wrestlers – no team points – and placing were Jack Welsh (FR, 106 lbs at sixth), Corbin Miller (FR, 113 lbs at 11th), Kendel Weber (SO, 120 lbs at 12th), Josh Sayers (SO, 145 lbs at 9th), Will Rowe (SR, 145 lbs at 14th), Tre Anderson (JR, 152 lbs at 11th), Hayden Baker (SO, 170 lbs at 9th) and Colt Cox (FR, 182 lbs at 11th).
Coach Vaughn tabbed his tournament champions Cael Woods, Tyler Masters and Josh Baldridge with the Knights Varsity Wrestling Hammer of the Week Award.