WILMINGTON — In early February, Eaton’s head wrestling coach, Mark Silvers, took a gamble. He chose to wrestle in a sectional that hosted Graham Local, a wrestling powerhouse.
“There were several coaches who thought I was nuts because we would have won the other sectional. I wasn’t interested in winning the sectional, I wanted to give our wrestlers the best chance to go to state,” he said.
The Eagles advanced 12 of 14 wrestlers to the district tournament in Wilmington on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27, where they were placed in the opposite bracket of Graham Local since they had already faced them in the sectional.
This resulted in six of Eaton’s wrestlers all wrestling in the consolation or semifinals match-ups – one match away from qualifying for the state tournament. They won two of those six matches, advancing Wade Monebrake (106) and Mac Altom (145) to the state finals in Columbus.
“Any time you advance a wrestler to the state championships, it speaks volumes of that young man’s preparation,” said Silvers. “(Monebrake and Altom) put in extra workouts that helped prepare the wrestler to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself.”
They both placed third at Wilmington, with Monebrake winning in a 10-6 decision and Altom earning an 8-3 decision.
Monebrake earned his way to the third-place match by pinning his first opponent in 1:06 and winning an 8-2 decision in the quarterfinals. He was defeated 3-0 in the semifinals, pushing him to the consolation semifinals where he worked his way through by beating his Valley View opponent 3-2. The victory sent him to the third place match.
Altom also started out the day with a pin (2:28) in the opening round while sticking his second opponent in 5:19. The wins sent him to the semifinals where he lost 10-1 and also competed in the consolation semifinals, winning that match in a 3-0 decision.
Other Eagles placing at the meet were Coleman Manning and Matt Todd, who both placed fifth and becoming state alternates. Drew Moore and KJ Melling both placed sixth, finishing off excellent seasons.
Also competing this past weekend were senior Brian Conard, senior Brandon Weaver, senior Justin Welcome, junior Isaac Ilo, senior Parker Wilken and sophomore Spencer Reynolds.
“One nice thing is that five of these guys will be back next year to make another run at the State Tournament,” added Silvers.
Monebrake and Altom will start competing on Thursday, March 3, at 4:10 p.m. at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Reach Jeremy Erskine at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.