EATON — On a night when Eaton welcomed back former wrestlers to honor its 50 years of wrestling history, the current group of Eagle grapplers hit the mats and added to the program’s legacy by winning the 50th Annual Eaton/Sam Ridder Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Thanks in part to the efforts of individual champions KeAnthony Bales (152 pounds) and Zac Schmidt (160) and a runner-up performance by Logan Chapin (170), Eaton edged Plain City Jonathan Alder 143-142 for the top spot.
“It’s awesome,” Eaton’s first-year head coach Nathan Islamovsky said. “We talked about it early in the year. It’s been nothing but improvement. It’s been a bunch of win or we’re going to learn and we did a lot of learning early on. This is nice. For it to be the 50th and us to put together an effort like this. It was a total team effort. We had kids, if you ask the people that know, shouldn’t have placed who ended up placing. And people who shouldn’t have won that ended up winning it.”
Bales, the No. 2 seed, got the winning night started with a pin of Jack Cain of Springfield Shawnee in 2:55.
“He has turned it on in the last week, two weeks, three weeks,” Islamovsky said. “He’s really found himself. “Understand, one year ago today, KeAnthony was a JV wrestler. He was in the 145 spot behind Wade (Monebrake) and couldn’t crack the lineup. Since then it’s been nothing but growth. He’s on his third year wrestling ever. He’s wrestling young. He’s just one of those guys who learns everyday and has grown so much. I couldn’t be more excited for him. He put us on a little run.”
Schmidt followed with a steady 3-1 win over No. 1 seed Adam Myers of Springfield Shawnee.
“It’s been the same story as before. The kid’s heart, his conditioning, his effort, he’s got it all going,” Islamovsky said. “We’re peaking at the right time. This next month is when it really matters. He’s going to put together a nice effort at the end of the season.”
Chapin was the No. 2 seed and reached the final before falling by pin to No. 1 seed David Frederick of Chaminade Julienne.
“For him to get second in this tournament is unbelievable,” Islamovsky said. “It was an awesome effort from him. He gave Frederick a match. He’s a returning state placer.
Owen Hewitt (138) added a third place finish and Trenton Dungan (132) and Holden Sittloh (195) each placed fourth.
“If you would have asked me if we could get six placers, not even talking about champions, I would have been ecstatic coming into this,” Islamovsky said. “Right now, from this point of the season on, we compare this tournament to a sectional or a district tournament and it’s all about being in the top four. If you go to the top four at the district you go to state.”
Islamovsky said one of the keys to winning was bonus points.
“We wrestled in a way where we pinned a lot of kids this weekend and those pin points were the difference,” he said. “The difference from us being in the top three at all and being down below. We came through and got some pins when we needed them. KeAnthony pinning in the finals is an example of that. Owen had a couple pins early on. Zac had pinned his way up until the finals. Trenton the same way. Those are major team point bumps.”
National Trail’s Peyton Lane continued his impressive senior season by winning the 145-pound division with a 6-0 decision over Sam Eastes of Wilmington. Caleb Reynolds placed fifth at 120 pounds with a pin of Zach Avery of Milton-Union.
As a team, Trail finished 16th with 47 points.
Twin Valley South finished 20th with 13 points.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH