Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst poses with his two freshmen state placers, Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst.

Four Covington wrestlers qualified for state and two earned state medals in what was another great weekend for Buccaneer wrestling. Kellan Anderson finished sixth at 106 pounds and Cael Vanderhorst took eighth at 113 pounds, while Keringten Martin (152) and Gage Kerrigan (195) gained valuable experience on the biggest stage of high school wrestling.

Covington sent four wrestlers to the state meet and two are still in contention for medals after the first day of wrestling – freshmen Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst (49-6).

And Anderson only needed to wrestle one match on Thursday as the Buccaneer freshman 106-pounder was impressive in recording a 1:20 pin of Josh Proper of Delaware Christian (30-9). Anderson, who is now 47-7 in the season, will face Brett Szuhay (40-3) of Mantua Crestwood in tomorrow’s quarterfinal round.

“Kellan did a great job of coming out fast and getting a nice takedown early,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “When Kellan was riding on top we noticed he (Proper) was open for the cradle. We gave Kellan a hand signal and he locked him up and pinned him.”

The Buccaneers lost a heartbreaker at 113 pounds as Cael Vanderhorst dropped a 2-1 decision to Brayden Reynolds (37-8) of Barnesville) in the second tiebreaker.

“Yeah, that was a tough one,” said Vanderhorst of his son’s defeat. “The kid (Reynolds) was awarded an escape at the end, but we thought the time ran out. We won’t know until we look at the video. Either way, that was tough because it was so close.”

He dropped into the consolation rounds against Kyle Keenan (36-13) of Lima South Range and pulled out an impressive 3-0 win as he recorded three back points on a tilt in the second period.

“Cael wrestled well,” said Vanderhorst. “He almost got a takedown at the end of the first period and the other kid chose bottom to start the second. Locking up the tilt for the three back points was big. Hopefully he can come out and use that as confidence tomorrow.”

Buccaneer junior 152-pounder Keringten Martin also dropped a close match to two-time state placer Chase Moore (49-2) of Swanton by the score of 3-1.

“That was case where both wrestlers defended very well on their feet and we just couldn’t break through his (Moore’s) defense,” Vanderhorst said. “He (Moore) was able to get the one takedown on us and that was the difference.”

Martin dropped into the consolation bracket where he fell to Conor Becker (48-5) of Galion Northmor in another close match, 8-5 to end his junior season with a 42-11 record.

“I know Keringten is disappointed, but he wrestled very well,” said Vanderhorst. “He’s right on the cusp (of placing) because both of his matches could have gone either way. I know he’ll work hard to get back here next year.”

Sophomore 195-pounder Gage Kerrigan ran into a buzzsaw in Dylan Hinton (46-2) of Bloomdale Elmwood, who pinned the Buccaneer wrestler in 1:02.

“You could see the difference in maturity,” said Vanderhorst. “Gage is undersized for this weight and he’s wrestling guys who are cutting down to one-ninety-five.”

Gage fell into the consolation bracket where he was pinned by Jacob Campbell (48-4) of Sullivan Black River. He ends his sophomore campaign with a 23-8 record.

“Gage just ran into two studs,” Vanderhorst explained. “He’s the only sophomore in his bracket and a lot of those guys are seniors with a lot more maturity and strength. But this is great experience for him because he’ll be able to use it as he grows and develops.”

Wrestling resumes tomorrow at 10:00am.

Top Photo: Keringten Martin works for a takedown. Right Photo: Gage Kerringan sizes up his opponent in the preliminary rounds of the state wrestling tournament.

Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst has witnessed many kids come to the state wrestling meet and come up short of accomplishing their dream of becoming a state placer – himself included.

Which is why he felt bad for Keringten Martin and Gage Kerrigan after their season’s ended Thursday and why he is so excited to see his two freshmen, Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst secure spots on the podium Saturday morning.

“It’s super exciting,” said Vanderhorst. “I’m so happy for these two kids because it’s a reward for how much they put into this. Both of them put in a lot of time in the off-season and that doesn’t always guarantee this level of success, so it’s great to see them being rewarded for all of their hard work.”

Kellan Anderson started things off in the championship quarterfinals with an 11-2 major decision win over Brett Szuhay (40-4) of Mantua Crestwood in what was a tight match early until the Buccaneer freshman pulled away in the second period.

After recording a takedown in a scramble in the opening two minutes, Anderson chose bottom in the second and quickly reversed his opponent to his back to push the lead to 7-1 with one period left to wrestle.

“The takedown in the first period was big because we gave up a penalty point,” Vanderhorst said. “But the reversal and the three near fall in the second period gave us a huge advantage. From there it was just a matter of Kellan staying in good position and not giving up anything big.”

Which Anderson was able to do as he took advantage of a desperate opponent by recording another takedown and two back points for the 11-2 win.

“You could see the desperation in him (Szuhay) and Kellan did a good job of staying in good position and taking what was there,” said Vanderhorst.

With the win Anderson improves to 48-7 on the year and advances to the semifinals tonight against Casey Barnett (57-2) of Milan Edison.

“He is favored to finish one or two (at state) this year,” Vanderhorst said of Barnett. “But anything can happen in the state tournament. We’ll coach Kellan up and do our best to help him do what he does best.”

Shortly after Anderson punched his ticket to the championship semifinal, Eric’s son, Cael Vanderhorst secured a place on the podium with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Brandon Hahn of Pemberville Eastwood.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match when we saw him (Hahn) tech fall his first round opponent,” Vanderhorst explained. “But we had a strategy and Cael executed it.”

Which resulted in a huge five-point swing in the match when Cael took advantage of Hahn being out of position to record a reversal and three back points.

“Cael stayed in solid position and was able to lock up a cradle for a reversal and three backs,” said Vanderhorst. “At that point it was play-it-safe and get the win.”

Which Cael was able to do despite giving up a late takedown.

“He wrestled a smart match,” Vanderhorst explained. “I’m proud of how he responded from the first round loss last night.”

Which was a loss that Cael Vanderhorst took hard due to his opponent being awarded an escape in the waning moments of the ultimate tiebreaker.

“He was extremely disappointed,” Vanderhorst continued. “We thought time had expired. We went back to look at the film and unfortunately from our camera angle we couldn’t see the clock, so we had to put it behind us and move on. Cael did a good job of refocusing and coming back strong in the consis last night and again this morning.”

Cael Vanderhorst improves to 50-6 with the win and returns tonight to face Antonio Lecki (27-8) in the consolation quarterfinal.

Left Photo: Kellan Anderson leans back to pick up back points. Top Photo: Cael Vanderhorst works a tilt during the state tournament.

The Covington freshmen duo of Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst walked onto the mat Friday night for Session 3 of the 81st Annual State Wrestling Tournament knowing they already secured one of the eight spots on the podium.

And it was a case of one Buccaneer wrestlers running into a much more seasoned opponent and the other Covington wrestler coming up just short in yet another razor thin match.

“Yeah, a lot of matches can go either way over here (at state),” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “A lot of times there’s not much separation between placing and not placing.”

For Anderson, he had a monumental task in his quest to knock off highly touted Casey Barnett of Milan Edison in the championship semifinal at 106 pounds.

And despite giving a great account of himself, Anderson fell by the score of 9-2.

“We knew what he (Barnett) was going to do, but couldn’t stop him a few times,” said Vanderhorst. “Cael wrestled him at junior high state so we knew he was a tough kid.”

Barnett built a 9-0 lead in the third period and was attempting to ride out the clock when the Buccaneer wrestler turned the tables with a reversal and nearly found himself in position to put Barnett on his back for a possible miraculous comeback win.

But it wasn’t meant to be as Barnett was too slick and was able to ward off Anderson’s gutty effort.

“Kellan never quit wrestling and was able to score at the end there,” Vanderhorst explained. “A couple more seconds and who knows, but you have to give him (Barnett) credit because he was able to stay out of trouble.”

Anderson, who falls to 48-8 on the season, falls into the consolation bracket where he will face Wyatt Riddle of East Clinton in a rematch of last week’s district finals match.

“Keep making improvements,” said Vanderhorst in regards to the plan for Saturday. “Kellan is wrestling well, so hopefully he can avenge last week’s loss to him (Riddle).”

For Cael Vanderhorst, he found himself so close once again to advancing in the consolation rounds, but came up short against Antonio Lecki of Millbury Lake.

First, trailing 2-1 in the first period, Vanderhorst was very close to recording a reversal when the time ran out.

Then in the second period, Vanderhorst had Lecki locked up in a tilt, but couldn’t turn his opponent far enough to be awarded back points.

“Cael was so close to turning him with the tilt and that would have probably been the win,” said Vanderhorst. “We also almost had the reversal earlier and those two sequences there were the difference in the match.”

Because Cael had to take his chances trailing 3-2 with the clock ticking away. Lecki was able to ward off the shot attempt and catch the Buccaneer wrestler for a takedown and two back points to make the final margin 7-2.

“Cael is so close to being much higher on the podium,” Vanderhorst said. “There were so many close chances, but that’s the way it goes when you have really good wrestlers facing each other.”

Still, Vanderhorst – the father – is thrilled his son, Cael, will be wrestling for seventh place tomorrow morning, while Kellan Anderson will be wrestling for anywhere from third to sixth.

“Absolutely,” smiled Vanderhorst. “It’s been a great weekend so far and hopefully we can win the rest of our matches tomorrow.”

Wrestling resumes at 10:00am tomorrow.

Left Photo: Kellan Anderson has his hand raised in victory at state. Top Photo: Cael Vanderhorst records a takedown during the state tournament.

Their state experience didn’t end the way Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst had hoped, but Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst couldn’t have been more proud of what they were able to accomplish in their first trips to state as freshmen.

“Super proud of them,” said Vanderhorst with a smile on his face. “For them to get here and place as freshmen, it’s awesome.”

Anderson placed sixth at 106 pounds and Vanderhorst finished 8th at 113 pounds to become the 12th and 13th state placers in school history and join former four-time state placer Andrew Dehart as only three freshmen to place at state.

“They join a select group,” said Vanderhorst. “Their names will go up on the board and their banners will hang in the wrestling building when they graduate.”

Anderson opened up the final day of the state tournament with a consolation semifinal bout against Wyatt Riddle (21-3) of East Clinton in a rematch of last week’s district final where Kellan lost 10-2.

But this time Anderson closed the gap thanks to a reversal and two back points resulting in a 4-4 tie after regulation. Unfortunately Riddle was able to record a takedown late in the extra session to hand the Buccaneer wrestler a 6-4 defeat.

Anderson then faced returning state placer Collin Yinger (39-11) of Nelsonville York in the fifth and sixth place match and once again came within a whisker of pulling off the upset only to fall short 4-2.

“Kellan wrestled very, very well,” praised Vanderhorst. “The match against Riddle shows significant improvement from last week (at districts) and his final match was close.”

With his sixth place finish at state, Anderson became the 12th state placer in school history and finished his freshman season with a 48-10 record.

Cael Vanderhorst went into his seventh place match already stinging from close calls in two of his matches at state – his opening round loss 2-1 in the tie-breaker and a loss in the consolation quarterfinal where he was close to sealing a win on a tilt.

And unfortunately Vanderhorst suffered another heartbreaking defeat in his placement match against Austin Guthrie (45-7) of Coshocton by the score of 1-0 in the tie-breaker.

Vanderhorst closes out his freshman campaign with a 50-8 record and an eighth place finish at 113 pounds to become the 13th state placer in school history.

“Cael was so, so close in some of those matches,” said his father and coach, Eric Vanderhorst. “He won a couple of big matches to place and the matches he lost were razor thin. That just shows how tough it is here (at state).”

Both Buccaneers were in each match they wrestled, which Vanderhorst hopes gives them confidence going into next year.

“That just proves they can compete with anybody,” he said. “We just have to get back to work and refine our technique for next year.”

But not before enjoying the results of a great weekend for the Covington wrestling program.

“Oh, absolutely, it was a great weekend of us,” agreed Vanderhorst. “We had two state placers with Kellan and Cael and two state qualifiers (Keringten Martin and Gage Kerrigan) who gained valuable experience. We have all four of them back next year and a strong group who are hopefully hungry to get here (at state) too.”

And hopefully leading to future success for Buccaneer wrestling.