By Bret Curren
After a long bus ride to Belmont, Ohio Tuesday, January 3 the West Holmes High School varsity wrestling team came away from Union Local High School with a 1-1 mark after scoring a 50-27 victory over the host Jets before dropping a 43-24 night-capper to the Gnadenhutten Indian Valley squad in a pair of dual meets.
“I’m proud of some individual efforts tonight,” Jeff Woods, the Knights 26-year head coach said following the meet. “Thane (Kaufman) went 2-0 and beat a returning state qualifier from Indian Valley, and, we got two wins from Cody (Woods), Josh (Baldridge) and Alex (Walker) against pretty tough competition”.
In the match-up with Union Local the Knights opened a 12-0 lead after getting fall wins from 106-pound freshman Cael Woods 113-pound returning state qualifier Thane Kaufman. However, the Jets won by fall at 120-pounds to get on the board.
After West Holmes 126-pounder Hunter Bowling received a forfeit win, Union Local came back with a fall win and a decision win to pull to within 17-15. A decision win from freshman 145-pounder Cruz Alexander and a fall win from senior Cody Woods at 152-pounds gave the Knights a 26-15 lead before the Jets scored a fall win at 160-pounds to cut the margin to 26-21.
That’s when the Knights simply took over, recording four straight fall wins by sophomores Ryan O’Donnell at 170-pounds, Josh Baldridge at 182-pounds and seniors Alex Walker at 195-pounds and Jake Mullet at 220-pounds to close the door on Union Local despite the Jets receiving a forfeit win at 285-pounds.
Kaufman started things off against Indian Valley with a hard fought 1-0 decision win over Brady O’Connor in a battle of returning state qualifiers. Kaufman scored a second period escape for the only tally in the match. From that point, the Knights wouldn’t score another win until Cody Woods stopped the Braves’ onslaught with a fall win.
Indian Valley came right back with two more wins before Baldridge scored a fall win and Walker got an escape with two seconds left on the clock for a decision win to give the Knights their last two head-to-head wins. Cael Woods was a forfeit winner to close out the meet.
“Our upper weights came through for us against Union Local”, coach Woods said of the match-up with the Jets. “Give Indian Valley credit. That’s a good group. Right now, we’re struggling as a dual meet team.”
Freshman Josh Sayers competed in a pair of exhibition matches at 138-pounds and finished 1-1.
Coach Woods awarded this week’s West Holmes Varsity Wrestling ‘Hammer of the Week Award’ to four wrestlers – Thane Kaufman, Cody Woods, Josh Baldridge and Alex Walker.
The Knights are now 4-2 in dual meets this season.
West Holmes returns to the mats Friday and Saturday, January 13 and 14 at the ‘2017 Bill Dies Memorial Tournament’ at Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio.