By Bret Curren
Wednesday, Jan. 9 proved to be a tough evening for the West Holmes Knights wrestling program from top to bottom when they faced a difficult challenge in local powerhouse Indian Valley.
The West Holmes High School varsity wrestling team dropped its first dual of the season after suffering a 53-20 loss to Indian Valley at Indian Valley High School in Gnadenhutten.
“Tonight’s dual was a tough one,” WHHS wrestling head coach Scott Vaughn said following the meet. “We are either banged up or sick right now, not a good combination to be working with when going against a tough Indian Valley squad.”
The Braves opened the dual with a forfeit win at 285 pounds, and then the Knights lightweights shined. Sophomore Jack Welsh won at 106 pounds, two-time All-Ohioan Cael Woods won at 113 pounds and freshman Dylan Strouse collected a win at 120 pounds. Welsh won with a decision, Woods a tech fall and Strouse with a fall to put the Knights in front 14-6.
Then the wheels fell off for WHHS.
Indian Valley won nine of the 10 remaining bouts to easily sew up the team win. The only win for the Knights was a fall win by sophomore Stephen Baldridge at 195 during the Braves romp.
Vaughn gave credit to the Indian Valley squad and head coach Nick Swaldo.
“Coach Swaldo has put together a really nice team. This is their year to do big things,” Vaughn said. “Credit to them. Coming off of a Waynedale dual that everything seemed to go our way, this was quite the opposite. Matches I thought we could win we lost or didn’t dominate the way I thought we could. We need to get healthy and work on fixing those things that kept us from performing to the best of our ability.”
While the varsity struggled, the West Holmes High School junior varsity wrestlers had a very good night, winning four-of-five matches when the Knights squared off with Indian Valley.
Picking up wins for the Knights were freshman Noah Tish (106 pounds) by fall, freshman Connor Varnes (126) by tech fall, junior Nick Morris (145) by fall and junior Ethan Raber (160) by decision.
“I thought the JV guys were ready to go and wrestled really well,” Vaughn said. “Blaine Cline lost, but I thought that was the best match I’ve seen him wrestle all year. Ethan Raber got taken down right away in the first period and put on a nice comeback to get a good win.”
That was the only good news for West Holmes on this night.
The West Holmes Middle School wrestling team lost a tough 46-30 dual meet against Indian Valley. The loss was the first of the season in dual meets for the Knights, putting their record at 8-1.
Just like the varsity, the Knights jumped out to an 18-6 advantage over the Braves after winning four of the first six matches. Scoring those wins were Blake Strouse (86 pounds) with a fall, Mason Taylor’s (92) decision win, a fall victory for Blake Norman (98) and a decision win by Logan Vansickle (110).
From that point on the Knights would only win two more matches, an Elisha Baldridge (160) fall win and a forfeit win for Colin Gardner (245).
“It was a tough night,” WHMS wrestling co-head coach Andy Toye said. “They have a strong team, especially their middle weights.”
Despite the loss, coach Toye did see some light through the clouds of defeat.
“There were a couple of bright spots,” Toye said. “Mason Taylor stepped up to beat a tough opponent. Blake Strouse, Blake Norman and Elisha Baldridge got much-needed pins, and Logan Vansickle had a nice win too. The team score could have been a little closer, but since they already had the win secured, we bumped Gabe (Averbukh) up to 205 so he could get a match instead of just taking a forfeit. Unfortunately he was giving up too much weight.”
The Holmes Area Wrestling Club elementary Attack Team finished out the dual meet portion of their schedule losing 45-19 to Indian Valley. With the loss the Attack Team ends the dual meet season 11-3 overall, 12-2 in the OYWA Mid-Ohio Division.
“Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of a lop-sided victory for Indian Valley,” Attack Team volunteer head coach Jarret Mathie said. “Kudos to coach Swaldo and those boys. They were ready to wrestle, and that was very apparent after the first few matches. We came out flat, and against a team of their caliber, it proved to be a tough combination for our boys. We wrestled tough though, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Strouse and Varnes post perfect marks at Iron Boy Match-Ups
The West Holmes High School junior varsity wrestling team saw two wrestlers – freshmen Dylan Strouse and Connor Varnes – finish undefeated at the Iron Boy Match-Ups at Marlington High School in Marlington on Monday, Jan. 7.
Strouse (113 pounds) finished 4-0 with three falls in his matchups while Varnes (126) came away with a 3-0 mark, all of his wins via fall.
Sophomore Skylar Anderson (220) finished 3-1 with two falls while freshman Noah Tish (106) and sophomore Colt Cox (195) both went 2-1. Tish had one fall while Cox chalked up two fall wins.
Junior Hayden Baker (160) wound up 3-2 with one fall while fellow junior Nick Morris (152) notched a 2-2 record with one fall.
Going 1-3 with a fall win was junior Ethan Raber (160) while sophomore Blaine Cline (152) ended up 0-2.
Also competing for the Knights but withdrawing due to illness were freshmen Matthew Young (145) and Dillon Miller (160). Young went 1-1 with a fall win before bowing out. Miller was 0-4 before he too dropped from the action.
The Iron Boy Match-Ups are simply that: matchups. There is no team scoring nor individual placement.
The Knights junior varsity wrestlers head back to Marlington High School for round two of the Iron Boy Match-Ups on Monday, Jan. 28.