Senior Jarred Ganger and Ben Miller were joined at state by junior Ryan Ford and sophomore Lance Miller and the four Buccaneers had a great weekend by earning three state medals. Jarred Ganger won his fourth state medal and third state championship, while Ryan Ford took this and Ben Miller finished sixth. Lance Miller also wrestled well, but came up short of reaching the podium.
PRELIMINARIES: MIXED RESULTS FOR BUCCS
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015 – COLUMBUS
It wasn’t the start the Covington Buccaneers were hoping for in the first day of the 2015 OHSAA State Wrestling Championships as two of the four wrestlers dropped their opening round matches and one was eliminated in the consolation bracket.
Still, two are still alive in their quest to finish on top of the podium and one is alive in the consolation bracket.
For Jarred Ganger, he took one step closer in his quest to capture his third state title as he dominated Joey Pelletier of Utica with a pin in 42 seconds. Ganger, now 49-3 on the season, will face Tyler Sarreshteh (32-4) of Findley Liberty-Benton tomorrow morning in the championship quarterfinals. Sarreshteh advanced with a narrow 3-1 victory over Tim Mecklenburg of Rocky River Lutheran West.
The second Buccaneer wrestler to advance to tomorrow’s championship quarterfinals was Ben Miller at 182 pounds. Miller pinned Kyle Johnson of Galion Northmor in 3:35 to improve to 50-4 on the season. He will face Kollin Moore (48-0) of Creston Norwayne, who finished runner-up at state the past two seasons.
Ryan Ford was in control of his opening match, leading 8-4 in the third period against Jason Sadler of Rootstown (41-5). But Ford surrendered a reverse and got caught twice in the cradle as Sadler score eight unanswered points to hand Ryan a stunning 12-8 defeat.
Ford was forced to come back a few hours later against Kolby Rayner (43-9) of Caldwell and was able to record five takedowns en route to a 10-5 win to move his record to 48-7 in the year. He continues in the consolation bracket tomorrow.
Lance Miller also dropped a heartbreaker in his opening match as he fell 2-1 to returning state placer Deven Taylor of Castalia Margaretta (44-2).
After a scoreless first period, Miller chose the bottom position in the second period and recorded an escape late in the frame to take a 1-0 lead.
Taylor then chosen the bottom position in the third and scored a reversal to take a 2-1 lead. Miller scrambled several times in an attempt to tie the match with an escape, but never could break the grasp of Taylor.
Dropping into the consolation bracket, Miller faced Luke Bessler (43-5) of Baltimore Liberty Union.
After a scoreless first and second periods, Miller was reversed to his back in a five-point move to start the third period. He fought off his back and eventually reversed Bessler, but time ran out on Lance and he dropped a 5-2 decision – ending his sophomore season with a 48-11 record.
Wrestling resume tomorrow (Friday) at 10am for the three remaining Buccaneer wrestlers.
STATE QUARTERFINAL: THREE BUCCS ENSURE PLACING
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015 – COLUMBUS
Jarred Ganger is in a zone – a zone he hopes leads to a third state championship to cap an amazing high school career.
And after a dominating 7-3 quarterfinal victory over Findlay Liberty-Benton’s Tyler Sarreshteh (32-5), Ganger is now two matches away from achieving his goal of becoming a three-time state champ.
In his quarterfinal victory, Ganger waisted little time taking control of the match as he quickly recorded two takedowns to take a 4-1 lead after one.
Sarreshteh cut the margin to 4-2 with an escape point in the second, but Ganger recorded an escape and a takedown to seal the match in the third period.
The Buccaneer senior, now 50-3 on the season, will battle Genoa Area’s Devon Cannon (37-4) in tonight’s championship semifinal.
Ben Miller ran into a buzz saw in his quarterfinal match against unbeaten and projected state champion Kollin Moore (49-0) of Creston Norwayne, who has reportedly committed to wrestle at The Ohio State University.
Miller never could get untracked against Moore as the returning two-time state runner-up recorded three first period takedowns to take a 6-2 lead. Two more takedowns followed by Moore early in the second as it was obvious the Norwayne wrestler wasn’t interested in tying up with Miller.
Trailing 10-4, Miller was forced to push the action and was caught and pinned by Moore 26 seconds into the second period.
The defeat moved Miller into the consolation bracket a short time later, where he faced Martins Ferry’s Dalton Hoover (34-13) with the winner ensuring himself a spot on the podium.
And Miller put together his most impressive effort of the tournament to this point, rolling to a 3-0 lead into the third period and then catching Hoover in a five-point move that resulted into pin with 1 second left in the match.
Both wrestlers felt each other out in the opening frame as the score went into the second period with no points on the board. Miller chose bottom to start the second and quickly escaped and followed with the takedown for a 3-0 lead.
Hoover chose neutral to start the third as Miller patiently worked the clock until being warned for stalling. Moments later Miller took advantage of a poor shot by Hoover and turned the Martin Ferry wrestler to his back for the pin.
The win ensures Miller his second straight state medal as he returns tonight to continue his climb through the consolation bracket.
Also ensuring himself a second straight state medal was junior 138 pounder Ryan Ford, who returned with a vengeance after being stunned last night in his opening match.
Ford dominated Hunter Pizzino (30-3) of Cadiz Harrison Central with an 8-3 win.
The Buccaneer wrestler opened up a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period and followed with a reversal and two takedowns in the second period to push the margin to 8-2.
From there it was a matter of staying solid defensively, which Ford was able to do as he advances in the consolation bracket.
All three remaining Buccaneer wrestlers will return tonight at 6:30pm.
STATE SEMIFINAL: BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015 – COLUMBUS
After a rough first day in the 2015 OHSAA State Wrestling Championships, the three remaining Covington wrestlers rebounded with a vengeance on Friday by winning all but one match on the day.
And with the strong performance, Covington will bring home three more state placers.
“I really enjoy this as much now as I ever did,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee as Ben Miller playfully conducted the interview of his coach after the semi finals on Friday. “All of the hard work and effort that you guys put into it, going above and beyond what we (as coaches) do with you makes me so proud of what you have been able to accomplish so far this weekend.”
And the weekend isn’t done as the placement rounds begin tomorrow morning at 10:00am and the finals are slated to start around 5:30pm – where one Covington wrestler will be going for his second straight state championship as a Buccaneer and third state title overall.
That wrestler is senior Jarred Ganger, who has been dominant throughout the tournament at 132 pounds, including a 13-4 victory over Devon Cannon (37-5) of Genoa Area in the semifinals.
Ganger recorded three first period takedowns to build a 6-2 lead and then followed with two more takedowns in the second frame to push the margin to 10-4.
He then capped the evening with an escape and another takedown to win going away by the score of 13-4.
“I’ve got three matches under my belt and one more left,” said Ganger after another dominating effort. “The kid was tall and I like wrestling the tall, lanky kids. I got my shots off really good and got the major, which is more team points.”
Ganger returns to the finals for the fourth straight year after finishing runner-up as a freshman and earning two straight state championships as a sophomore and junior.
He’ll face Milan Edison sophomore Brady Barnett (53-6) in the championship match tomorrow night.
And Ganger’s strategy remains the same as with every match.
“I just have to take it to him and start dominating,” he emphasized.
Dominating is what Buccaneer junior Ryan Ford has been doing since getting stunned in an opening round loss to Jason Sadler of Roostown by the score of 12-8 – this, after Ford had built an 8-4 lead heading into the final frame.
A wrestler with championship expectations going in to state, a defeat like that would spell doom for most wrestlers throughout the rest of the tournament.
But Ford found a lot about himself in regards to mental toughness by battling back with three straight victories in the consolation rounds, including an victory by injury default over Loudonville’s Colton Ullman.
“At first (after the loss to Sadler) I was kind of disappointed, but I knew I had to come back and go for third,” Ford said. “I didn’t want to go out there and look like a chump, go 0 and 2. I wanted to prove people wrong, even though I lost the first match.”
Prior to the injury to Ullman, Ford was in complete control of the match with a 6-0 lead thanks to two takedowns, a penalty point and an escape.
“I’m in the losers bracket, but I feel I should be in the finals,” Ford said. “In my opinion, I feel I should beat those kids, so I’m pretty confident.”
Ford returns tomorrow to face a familiar foe in Troy Christian’s Cody Ohnmeiss (38-8) in the consolation semifinal.
“The last match at sectional was overtime,” said Ford in regards to the most recent meeting against Ohnmeiss. “But I feel I’m ready, more prepared than the last time. Cody is a good friend of mine, so this will be the last time I wrestle him.”
Ben Miller will also wrestle in the consolation semifinal tomorrow morning after a come-from-begin win over Mark Francis (41-11) of Delta in a very exciting match.
After a scoreless first period, Francis recorded a reversal to take a 2-0 lead that stood into the third period.
Miller chose bottom to start the third and quickly reversed Francis to tie the score at 2-2, but Francis turned the tables just as quickly with another reversal to take a 4-2 lead.
The Covington senior then cut the deficit to 4-3 with and escape and caught Francis in a scramble on a takedown attempt – locking up a five-point move to take the 8-4 win.
“I really don’t change my style, I’ve been wrestling the same way all season long,” Miller said. “At this point, it’s just making sure your skills are honed and what ever happens at that time, you just have to react to it.”
The victory moves Miller into the consolation semifinal tomorrow against Dom Johns (29-3) of Coshocton.
“For tomorrow, I’m hoping to go out and win some matches, get that bronze medal and be looking good,” Ben said. “Go out with a bang.”
Currently sitting in 6th place in the team standings with 40 team points, if all three Buccaneers do go out “With A Bang” they could climb as high as 4th.
STATE CONSOLATION FINAL: FORD 3RD, MILLER 6TH
SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2015 – COLUMBUS
Ryan Ford and Ben Miller concluded their journey in the 2015 OHSAA State Wrestling Championships on the podium as Ford placed third at 138 pounds and Miller finished sixth at 182 pounds.
Ford, who had visions of finishing on top of the podium, gained something that goes beyond a state championship – something that will benefit him next year and throughout the rest of his life.
What Ford gained was the knowledge that he can overcome heartbreaking adversity to bounce back in a short period of time and excel. Ford showed mental toughness and the heart of a champion by battling all the way back from a first round loss to win five straight matches for third place.
Obviously, being the competitor Ford is and with all of the hard work he has put into his wrestling career, he is disappointed not being on the top of the podium. But, coming back strong after such disappointment showed his character, which he can draw on next season as he chases his dream of winning a state title.
Saturday, in Ford’s consolation semifinal, he took on a familiar foe in Troy Christian’s Cody Ohnmeiss, who is a good friend off the mat.
In a tight match throughout, Ford surrendered an escape to Ohnmeiss to break a scoreless tie early in the second frame. The Buccaneer wrestler then recorded a takedown before surrendering another escape to make the score 2-2 with one period to go.
Ford then chosen bottom to start the third and recorded an escape and a takedown for a 5-2 lead. He then elected to surrender the escape point to Ohnmeiss with just under 1:00 left and played it safe – giving up a stalling point – until the clock ran out to preserve a 5-4 win.
In the consolation final against Trent Soto of Otsego, Ford recorded a quick takedown for a 2-0 first period lead. He then recorded an escape and two takedowns in the second period to push the margin to 7-2.
But the match became too close for comfort in the third period as Soto recorded two takedowns to pull within 8-6. But Ford secured the 10-8 victory with a takedown of his own to finish third.
Things didn’t go as well for Ben Miller in his final two matches at state as he lost to Coshocton’s Dom Johns in the consolation semifinal and then fell to Jack Staggs of Milan Edison.
Miller ends his senior season with a 52-7 record and as a two-time state placer.
Tonight Jarred Ganger will compete in the finals at 132 pounds in his quest to become a three-time state champion.
STATE FINAL: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR GANGER
MARCH 14, 2015 – COLUMBUS
Jarred Ganger had a vision of himself doing great things when he first started coming to the state wrestling championships as a youngster.
And when he got a taste of it on his own as a freshman four years ago at Troy Christian High School (placing 2nd), Ganger set his goal in motion of becoming a three-time state champion.
“Ever since I was five years old,” Ganger said. “Coming here and watching the tournament, actually getting to experience it my freshman year, I knew then it was a goal of mine to be one of the best in Ohio.”
And after a dominating 10-4 win over Brady Barnett of Milan Edison in the championship match at 132 pounds, Ganger put up three fingers on each hand and smiled to his family and friends who were on hand.
He then embraced Covington coaches Tom Barbee and Eric Vanderhorst and then broke down in tears as he made his way to his family.
“The emotion got to me because I just completed my last goal, to be a three-time state champion – I did it,” said Ganger with blood smeared on his bottom lip as an additional reward. “I get to be in that tunnel, with my picture in the tunnel.”
He also stamped his place in the history of Covington wrestling and left a legacy for other aspiring wrestlers to follow.
“He’s the first two-time champion Covington’s ever had,” said coach Tom Barbee. “That goes on our record board and something that can never be taken away from him and that’s what we work for. Obviously, we’ll try to find someone to take his place.”
There’s plenty of time to look ahead, but enjoying what Ganger accomplished was at the forefront of everyone’s mind after he dominated his final match.
Ganger recorded three first period takedowns to take a 6-2 lead and then racked up two more takedowns in the second period to push the lead to 10-3 with one period left.
And the third period was a matter of not taking any unnecessary chances as Ganger cruised to the 10-4 win – a win that concludes his senior season with a 52-3 record and a third state championship as he moves on to Kent State University next year.
“We’re going to miss him a bunch,” Barbee said. “He’s a leader in the room. He and Ryan Ford, they show the other guys how to work and what it takes.”
And the legacy Ganger has as a three-time state champion is the reward.