Wednesday, February 4, 2015 – By Rob Kiser – Piqua Daily Call
COVINGTON – The wrestling did not disappoint at the D-III Region 23 regional semifinals and finals at the state dual tournament Wednesday at Covington High School.
In the opening round Covington and Versailles went right to the wire, with Covington winning a 36-33 thriller, while Mechanicsburg cruised to an easy win over Ben Logan.
In the championship match, for a berth at St. John Arena Feb. 14, Mechanicsburg advanced with a 45-31 win over the Buccs.
But, Covington coach Tom Barbee’s only regret had nothing to do with what took place on the mat.
“It was exciting, thrilling,” Barbee said. “Every match matters. Something matters in every match. I am just disappointed that more people aren’t here in the crowd to watch it and see how exciting it is.”
Barbee knew beating Mechanicsburg was going to be a big challenge.
“They are (really strong),” Barbee said. “We figured if we could get within 20 points. I wanted to shake up the lineup if we won the coin toss and bumps some people up. But, Mechanicsburg won the coin toss, so we couldn’t really do that. We always say it is next man up. I thought the kids did a great job.”
One in particular was 220-pound sophomore Seth Thomas.
After clinching the Versailles match by avoiding a pin, he pinned Mechanicsburg’s Dylan Hartley in 3:20 in one of the most exciting matches of the night.
“Seth (Thomas) is a first year guy who is a football lineman – I told him this is winter football,” Barbee said with a laugh. “I thought our bigs did a good job and Seth had a big night all the way around.”
Covington got in a 21-0 hole early with Alex Rhine (106) and Tanner Smith (120) recording pins, while Tyler Wetzel won a close 8-6 decision over Jared Ford and Sam Rozmus (126) won by forfeit.
But, Covington answered with consecutive tech falls by Jarred Ganger (132, 26-11) and Ryan Ford (138, 23-8) to make it 21-10.
Covington then trailed 33-10 after pins by Joe Ziegler (145) and Kaleb Romero (152), all but sealing the Buccs fate.
Lance Miller (160), Ben Miller (195) and Thomas added pins, while Brandon Magee (182) had a 2-0 decision, but it wasn’t enough.
Lance Miller’s pin was in 50 seconds, while Ben Miller’s was in 55 seconds.
In the opening match, it was no surprise to either coach that it was a tight match.
“It is always close when we get together,” Versailles coach A.J. Bey said of facing Covington. “We knew it was going to be a tight match. It is always great wrestling.”
“The thing is Versailles has great wrestlers and great fans and so do we,” Barbee said. “Like I said, there is something that matters in every match.”
It became clear it would be a case of how big a lead Covington would open going to 195 pounds and the final three matches.
The Buccs jumped out 13-0.
Connor Ryan (106) had a pin in 3:26, Jared Ford (113) recorded an 11-1 major decision and then, in a match that would be pivotal, Coleman Ryan broke a 4-4 deadlock with an escape in the closing seconds to win 5-4.
Versailles got on the board when Tanner Bey (126) won by forfeit, before Ganger recorded a pin in 1:43 and Ryan Ford had a 12-4 major decision to put Covington in front 23-6.
Versailles’ Corey Dieringer (145) had a pin in 5:22 and Covington’s Lance Miller (152) won a 13-3 major decision, putting the Buccs in front 27-12.
Jonathan Moorman (160) won for Versailles with a pin in 2:55, before Magee (172) recorded a 7-1 decision and Ben Miller (182) won by pin in 2:18 to give Covington a 36-18 lead with three matches left.
Versailles needed three pins to tie the match – and if they had done so, they would have won the tiebreaker with the most pins.
Kyle Dieringer (195) got them started with a pin in 45 seconds.
But, Thomas made Kyle Gigandet settle for an 18-2 tech fall and Grant Keller (285) won by decision, giving Covington the win.
“Our bigs did a good job,” Bey said. “We just needed a few matches earlier to go the other way. Now depending on how you look at it, Coldwater gets another shot at us (at the MAC) or we get another shot at them. That is in two weeks and then we want to get healthy (for the postseason).”
Barbee was just as happy with his bigs, including Thomas and Carl Lankford (285).
“They really battled out there against Versailles,” Barbee said. “I was really proud of them. This is two years in a row we have been second (in the regional). We are just going to keep battling until we break through.”
And he would like nothing better than a bigger crowd to see it when it happens.