COLUMBUS — The Northmor Golden Knights have advanced to the Elite 8 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) State Wrestling Dual Team Tournament in 2018. This advancement will be the State debut for the Knights as they have finished as the Regional runner-up in three of the last four seasons.
The tournament is now entering its sixth year of existence and this year added a new twist to years prior. Although it will not have an effect on the eight teams wrestling in the Division III bracket, it should provide for an exciting finish in the Division I grouping.
But, let’s talk about the road ahead for the black and gold.
Northmor is entering the tourney on Sunday after finishing the regular season with a dual-meet record of 12-1 and will have quite the gauntlet to travel in order to advance to the Final Four and beyond, entering the field as the seven seed.
“I have no clue what criteria the OHSAA uses for their seeding here,” said Scott Carr, veteran coach for the Knights. “I thought that we would’ve been somewhere between a four and a six seed.”
Their opponent in the opening round of the tourney will be the second seeded Mustangs from Massillon Tuslaw. Tuslaw earned a runner-up in last year’s tournament and will be returning a wealth of wrestling experience this season. Of the wrestlers the Mustangs will suit up are two returning state placers in Jacob “Boots” Kuhlins (106) and Brayden Phillips (285). Also hitting the mats for Tuslaw will be three returning state qualifiers in the likes of Connor Brennan (132), Brier Marthey (138) and Kyle Ryder (152) while they also have a state alternate in Crawford Hamrick (220).
The Golden Knights are led by two-time state placer Conan Becker, returning state qualifiers Aaron Kitts and Conor Becker, as well as district placer Gavin Ramos. The “Becker Boys” are a combined 74-5 this season, recording 50 total pins and neither Conan nor Conor have been pinned in their five losses. Kitts is 31-9 on the season and Ramos enters the tourney with a 32-7 record.
Coach Carr is still not sure who will be paired up with who as he states in true Carr fashion, “not sure on the weight classes yet, (I’m) still doing some research.” No matter how the lineup stacks up, the Northmor leader puts things simply, “they have to step up just like they have all season long…The middle of our lineup has carried us all year. Some of the other guys will need to get the job done Sunday for us you make the Final Four.”
Also wrestling on Sunday in the Division III bracket will be the following: 1. Genoa Area vs 8. Bethel-Tate; 2. MASSILLON TUSLAW vs 7. NORTHMOR; 3. Swanton vs 6. Nelsonville-York; 4. Versailles vs 5. Apple Creek Waynedale.
If the Golden Knights triumph over the Mustangs in their opening-round matchup, they will advance to a final four matchup against the Swanton/Nelsonville-York winner.
Carr continued his to-the-point outlook on what the tourney may hold. “Genoa is the heavy favorite…Should be a good contest for us with Tuslaw.”
At the end of the day, I suppose that it’s best to let the wrestlers and results do all of the talking.
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