The National Trail wrestlers had a busy couple of weeks. On Dec. 14, the team traveled to Versailles for the Tiger Invitational, where the young team got its first real taste of varsity competition.
The Blazers picked up their first dual win against Lehman Catholic but fell to Versailles, Tipp City, and Tri-County North.
Austin Moore led Trail by going 4-1. Cody Hapner went 2-3. Sean Drew picked up his first win of the season, as did Robert Nave.
“All in all, it was a tough outing, but a great learning experience for the team,” said Head Coach Mike Eyler.
While the team was at Versailles, Zach and Ben Sullivan were competing at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Invite, a national tournament full of top competition. Ben started off with a loss to Knapp from Lakewood St. Edward’s. But he came back in the consolation bracket with a win over Hayes of St. Paris Graham before finally falling to Dilliner from West Virginia.
“I don’t think Ben was satisfied with his first outing at Ironman, but going into a national tournament as a freshman is a big deal, and picking up a win as a freshman is even bigger. He’s got a lot of talent, and we’ll see how he does next year,” Eyler said.
Zach lost his first match to Thomas of Graham. He came back, though, and defeated Page, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Baron of Pennsylvania, and Khoma of Lakewood St. Edward’s before finally losing 3-1 to Lance Dixon, a senior from Oklahoma and a Fargo All American.
“Zach had a great showing at Ironman, coming within one match of placing in one of the toughest tournaments in the nation,” Eyler said. “Even though he wanted to place, coming that far is a huge achievement and should set him up for a great season.”
This week, the Blazers had three events.
The first was a super dual at Talawanda High School. The Blazers fell to Northwest High School in the first round, but defeated Taylor High School in the second round, picking up their second duals win.
Zach Sullivan, Austin Moore, and Cody Hapner all went 2-0. Freshman Trey Mann and senior Levi Markley also picked up their first wins of the season.
“This was a great match for our boys, as it gave them confidence,” Eyler said. “Both Northwest and Taylor are tough teams and we competed with them. The team recognizes, now, how hard they need to work and have really stepped it up.”
Trail also hosted its only home tri-meet this week with Twin Valley South and Tri-County North. The Blazers picked up their third duals win over TVS and lost to North in a close bout.
Zach Sullivan and Austin Moore both went undefeated, while Cody Hapner went 1-1. Freshman Josh Cook also picked up his first varsity win.
“Again, the team looked more and more solid, they’re coming closer together every meet and pushing each other harder and harder, which is what we need since we’re so young,” Eyler said.
On Dec. 21, Trail competed at the Springfield Central Catholic Irish Invite, a 12 team pool tournament.
Max Shockney and Tyler Browning both picked up first wins there. Ben Sullivan took third at 220, falling only to Nye of Springfield, who went on to become the champion. Cody Hapner took second place at 195, falling to Sudoff of Northeastern.
“Cody had a great day, but got caught in his finals match. He’s continuously growing as a wrestler and getting much smarter on the mat, which is important. As long as he continues to improve, we’re going to see a lot of podium finishes for him,” Eyler said.
Zach Sullivan was the champion at 170 pounds, soundly beating all of his opponents.
“Zach continues to be a meticulous wrestler, working for position and making the matches his own. He’s always looking for ways to improve and make himself better, which is a great quality to have in a wrestler,” Eyler said.
Austin Moore was the Blazers’ final placer. He took first at 145. He pinned his way to the championship round before taking the win in an exciting 8-7 win over Hines of Benjamin Logan.
“Austin continues to impress me,” Eyler said. “Every day in practice he pushes himself and the results are easy to see. He’s come a long way since last year and should go far this season. He’s still only a sophomore, so this bodes well for his future wrestling career.
“In the end, the boys have come a long way since week one. We’re young and learning, but we’re learning fast. I attribute this to solid upperclassmen with good leadership skills and a lot of dedication. The boys come into practice everyday and push themselves. As we’ve been working harder and harder the success has gone up and the boys notice that.”
The Blazers will be at the Tipp City Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28.