By Matt Bishop
ROSSFORD – The powerful Ram grappling team of nine district qualifiers headed east to Rossford on Friday with an eye toward setting school records. The most Tinora has ever qualified for state in a single year is four, well within grasp for this year’s talented set of district qualifiers.
Representing the Tinora Rams wrestling program were Jacob Bishop, Anden Ankney, Dom Graziani, Devon Luellon, Aiden Helmke, Dalton Wolfrum, Grady Gustwiller, Gavin Bowers, Landen Newsome, and Javen Gaines.
Four seemed a likely number to qualify, with the realistic chance of getting up to seven out if things went well for the borderline/younger wrestlers.
The top four placers in each class would advance to the big show in Columbus.
Friday would hold the first two rounds of championship bracket wrestling, meaning everyone would be back for Saturday in this double-elimination tournament.
Bishop, Luellen, and Gustweiller dropped their opening matches against highly projected state placers, while the rest of the Rams, Ankney, Graziani, Helmke, Wolfrum, Bowers, and Gaines, made an excellent start to their quest by winning their first matches.
The second round of championship wrestling, the quarterfinals, would provide plenty of adversity for the Tinora squad. Ankney would fall 2-0 to highly ranked Vogus, projected state runner-up.
Graziani lost by fall to another highly-ranked foe, while Wolfrum and Bowers would lose to a couple of Lakota wrestlers after taking the initial lead. Helmke and Gaines would win to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.
Saturday would see everyone in action; beginning with two rounds of consolation wrestling to start the day.
Consolation round one started out well for the Rams, with Bishop recording a fall and Luellen winning by a major decision. Gustweiller lost a heartbreaker in sudden victory overtime to end his tournament run and a wonderful first season in the sport.
Consolation round two eliminated three of the four remaining super-sophomores, with Bishop, Luellen, and Graziani losing tough matches. Graziani fully deserved a victory but fell to three highly-unlikely takedowns in the final 40 seconds of wrestling. Ankney, Wolfrum, and Bowers would record dominant victories as they proved their quality.
Consolation round three was another very good round for Tinora, with Ankney, Wolfrum, and Bowers in action and winning in style to advance to the consolation semis.
The championship semi-finals would contain two Rams, Helmke, and Gaines looking to secure a coveted trip to state and the opportunity to compete in the district finals match.
First up was Helmke, who controlled the match until the last few seconds, where he lost a heartbreaker, 2-3, falling into the consolation semis. Gaines had a much better result, beating the Ginger Giant from Margaretta to secure his place.
Consolation semis is where the remaining Rams would have to succeed for qualification to state; winners would advance to the third/fourth place matches, while the losers would only have the opportunity to battle for fifth, state alternate.
It proved another good round overall for Tinora, with Ankney, Helmke, and Wolfrum dominating their opponents and advancing to state. Unfortunately, Gavin Bowers would drop his match against a powerful Delta wrestler and miss out on direct qualification.
The finals proved to be an amazing round for Tinora, with all five wrestlers winning their last district matches. The highlight of the finals was saved for the last match of the night, as Gaines defeated Owen Box of Liberty Center to win the district title.
Javen was 0 and forever against Box, losing close match after close match to the senior standout. A quick, aggressive takedown in the first 30 seconds turned the tide of the saga, with Gaines also dumping a throw attempt in the second period to a pinning position, only for the match to be paused for injury time for Box; Javen would have almost certainly pinned Box from that position.
As the dust settled, the Rams would be sending four to the Big Show, with one alternate in Bowers.
As a team, Tinora finished a very respectable 5th out of 52. They intend to set the record for state placers in a single year, currently standing at three. We all believe firmly that it will happen!
Let’s Gooooooo RAMS!
Dalton Wolfrum broke the single-season takedown record in Rams wrestling history, congratulations.
Results from the Rossford Sectional:
Rams Advancing to State:
132 Anden Ankney 3rd
157 Aiden Helmke 3rd
165 Dalton Wolfrum 3rd
HWY Javen Gaines Champion
ALT: Gavin Bowers
Oder STATE shirts by Monday 12 pm
PICS: Robyn Helmke
Pics below: Mr Nafzizer