SIDNEY — National Trail has three wrestlers moving on to districts.
The Blazers competed in the Division III Sectional Tournament at Sidney Lehman Catholic High School on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20, placing 10th overall and advancing Josh Cook (145), Dylan Hager (285), and Ben Sullivan (220) on the weekend.
“We’re a young team, and we’ve got lots of room to grow, but it was good to see the boys do so well at the sectional tournament,” said Trail head coach Michael Eyler. “The three who are moving on are the team captains, and their results are proof of why they’ve earned that title.”
Sullivan, a junior, placed the highest for Trail, as he won his third straight sectional championship and ended the day undefeated. He made it to the championship round by logging three straight pins and spending a mere five minutes and nine sections in action on his way to the final.
He won the championship round with a 5-0 win to end the weekend.
“Ben continues to be the perfect example of what a wrestler should look like. He’s strong, intelligent, and tenacious on the mat. He’s developed his offense so much further this year, and his defense is of the highest caliber,” said Eyler. “I know he’s looking forward to the district tournament, but his sights are set much higher.”
Hager, another junior, also qualified for districts and placed third overall at the meet.
Hager started out the tournament with a loss but worked his way back through the consolation bracket, tallying two pins and a 12-6 decision to earn his trip to the district championship. He ended the day with an 11-6 win over a state-ranked opponent from Troy Christian.
“Dylan has never wrestled better. He went out onto the mat like he had something to prove, and he showed everyone there what he was made of,” said Eyler. “He’s got a lot of fire and talent inside him and he didn’t leave anything on the mat. To say he’s improved is an understatement. He’s a brand new wrestler this year and I don’t think he’s done yet.”
Rounding out the qualifiers is Cook, who finished fourth in Sidney. It is the first district tournament Cook, a junior, has qualified for in his career.
He had an up and down weekend, winning his first match 7-3 before pinning the four-seed from Stivers in the next round via pin. Cook fell in the semifinal match but won in the consolation semifinals before losing to his Brookville opponent in the third-place matchup.
“Josh had the best performance of his career. He’s been very focused over the past few weeks, especially since he just missed out on qualifying for districts last year,” said Eyler. “He went in as the sixth seed, which I think put a little fire in him, since he knew he had the ability to place higher. He stepped onto the mat with a lot to prove and really showed everyone how tough he is.”
Also finishing strong for the Blazers was freshman Derek Nugent (106), who missed placing in the sectional by one match.
“He’s got a lot of talent and potential, and even though he was disappointed in his final match, the passion he brings to the sport is good to see. I’m excited to see what he’ll do next year,” said Eyler.
The three Blazers will compete in the Division III district tournament in Troy at Hobart Arena on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27. Matches begin Friday at 3 p.m.
Reach Jeremy at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.