Covington senior Keringten Martin took advantage of his second and final opportunity at the state meet by placing 3rd at 152 pounds, while sophomore Cael Vanderhorst earned his second state medal by placing fourth at 113 pounds. Sophomore Kellan Anderson also competed at state for the second straight year, ut came up short of earning his second state medal.
PRELIMINARIES: SHORT NIGHT FOR BUCC WRESTLERS
MARCH 7, 2019 – COLUMBUS
It was a short night for the three Covington wrestlers in the opening session of the 82nd Annual State Wrestling Individual Tournament on Thursday as all three Buccaneers won their opening matches.
“What a great way to start the tournament,” said a very delighted Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “Anytime you can win all of your matches, it’s a good day.”
Sophomore 106 pounder Kellan Anderson (50-0) started things off in style for the Buccaneers with a dominating 15-0 technical fall victory over Jarrison Moore of Creston Norway (36-11).
“I knew coming in that I can hang with anyone in my weight class, so I went out and pushed the pace right away,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want to give him anything.”
Anderson immediately scored on a takedown and then turned Moore to his back twice to build an 8-0 lead after one period of wrestling.
He chose bottom to start the second and was awarded a penalty point as Moore locked his hands trying to prevent the Buccaneer wrestler from escaping. After a restart, Anderson quickly escaped and followed with a takedown and three back points for the 15-0 win.
“I kept pushing the pace and staying aggressive,” Anderson explained. “I just focused on working my stuff and not giving him any opportunities.”
Anderson advances to tomorrow’s quarterfinals where he will face Gavin Owens of Pemberville Eastwood (45-2), a wrestler he defeated 5-0 at the Thunderbird Invitational at Lima Central Catholic.
“I wrestled him at LCC earlier this year, so I’m kinda familiar with him,” Anderson said. “I just have to wrestle my match and stay focused.”
Sophomore 113 pounder Cael Vanderhorst (48-5) was equally impressive with a 13-2 victory over Bryce Maynard of Pemberville Eastwood (38-12).
“My approach was the same thing as it was for Kellan, stay aggressive with my attacks,” Vanderhorst explained. “Last year I was too cautious in some of my matches here, so I wanted to be more aggressive this time around.”
Vanderhorst scored a quick takedown for a 2-0 lead in the first and then pushed his lead to 6-0 with a reversal and two back points in the second frame. He then closed out the contest with two more takedowns and was awarded another point as Maynard was tagged for stalling.
“I wrestled him before at LCC and he was injured in that match,” said Vanderhorst. “I knew if I wrestled my match I would be fine.”
Vanderhorst advances to take on Caleb Edwards of Rootstown (44-4) in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
“My plan is to stay aggressive and work my moves,” he said. “I have to stay on my stuff and not let him work his.”
Senior 152 pounder Keringten Martin had a familiar foe in his opening match as he took on Ryan Marvin of Swanton (41-5), a returning state placer from a year ago.
“He beat me at LCC earlier this year and that was because I gave up an early takedown and couldn’t get in on my shots,” Martin said. “This time I wanted to be more aggressive.”
Marvin scored first on a takedown, but Martin was able to quickly escape to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the end of one. Martin then surrendered an escape point to Marvin to start the second, but quickly turned the momentum with a takedown of his own to tie the score at 3-3.
But Martin wasn’t able to hold Marvin and gave up an escape point as the second period came to a close with the Buccaneer wrestler trailing 4-3.
Martin chose bottom to start the third and quickly tied the match with an escape. He then shot in on a double-leg and capitalized on an opportunity by turning Marvin to his back for a five-point move.
“I felt him gassing a little bit in the second period, so I picked up the pace even more,” Martin explained. “I was able to catch him and get some back points, which was really big.”
With a 9-4 lead, Martin elected to surrender an escape so he could control the remainder of the match from his feet.
And as the time expired, Martin had his hand raised with a 9-5 win.
This sets up a quarterfinal matchup against Nick Skye of Mogodore (48-8).
“I don’t know anything about him,” Martin said of his next opponent. “But I’m ready. I’m confident right now in my moves and that’s my focus.”
Eric Vanderhorst is pleased with how well his wrestlers performed.
“Kellan and Cael were obviously the better wrestlers in their matches, but Keringten drew a state placer who had beaten him earlier in the year,” he said. “And just like last time, he gave up an early takedown. But the difference in this match was Keringten was able to keep his composure and his ability to set up his shots.”
And with a short night, Vanderhorst is looking forward to enjoying some relaxing time at the hotel.
“That’s what’s good about not having to come back later tonight in the consolation round,” he said. “We get to go back to the hotel, relax and get focused for tomorrow.”
Thanks to a short night.
QUARTERFINAL: BUCCS WIN TWO OF THREE IN QUARTERFINALS
MARCH 8, 2019 – COLUMBUS
Two of the three Buccaneer wrestlers ensured themselves state medals and punched their tickets into the championship semifinals later this evening with victories in the quarterfinals. The third Covington wrestler dropped his quarterfinal match and will continue to battle through the consolation rounds.
First, Cael Vanderhorst (49-5) stunned Caleb Edwards of Roostown (44-5) with a come-from-behind 13-9 win. Edwards had placed third at state a year ago at 113 pounds.
“That kid was very athletic and explosive, but Cael stayed composed,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “He took Cael down a couple of times early, so it was obvious his strategy was to control the match on his feet.”
Even though Vanderhorst found himself behind early, he adjusted his strategy by keeping the match on the mat as much as possible.
“Yeah, the Edwards kid tried to cut Cael (surrender an escape), but Cael was able to catch him for a big reversal late in the second period,” Vanderhorst explained. “Then Cael picked up a big takedown in the third and I think he (Edwards) started to get frustrated.”
That’s because Vanderhorst had taken a 10-8 lead and was relentless on top. Edwards’ frustration came to the forefront as the Rootstown wrestlers was penalized twice for twisting Vanderhorst’s fingers for a combined three additional points.
“Those penalty points were big because it opened up more of a cushion for us,” Vanderhorst, who is also Cael’s father, said. “Cael just wrestled smart and gets to move on to the semifinals.”
Where he will face returning state runner-up and unbeaten Lucian Brink of Coshocton (51-0).
“Yeah, everyone here is good, so we’ll do our best,” said Vanderhorst.
Also advancing to the state semifinal round is Buccaneer senior 152 pounder Keringten Martin, who picked up a 7-3 victory over Nick Skye of Mogadore (41-6).
“Keringten just stayed in solid position and was patient in setting up his shots,” Vanderhorst explained. “That kid got in deep a couple of times and Keringten had to use his hip defense more in this match.”
Skye did get in deep on some early shots, but Martin was able to turn one into his own shot opportunity on a reshot that resulted in the first takedown of the match.
This set the tone for the rest of the match as Martin was able to lock up two more takedowns en route to a 7-3 win.
“I knew the deeper the match went that Keringten was in pretty good shape, although you can never relax here (at state),” Vanderhorst said. “Keringten has very good endurance and he’s hard to score on later in matches.”
The win ensures Martin a spot on the podium, which earns him a banner that will hang in the wrestling building once her graduates.
“This is what I’ve work for,” said Martin in regards to becoming a state placer. “I came over here (at state) as a sophomore and drilled with Lance (Miller) and that was the best weekend of my life because it was so awesome to see Lance end up wrestling in the finals. That experience motivated me.”
Martin qualified for state himself a year ago, but dropped his first two matches. This was also a source of motivation.
“Yeah, last year I didn’t do too well,” he said. “But I can feel it this year. I feel so good and I could tell around sectionals that this would be my year. Now I’m just trying to place as high as I can.”
Martin will wrestle Kevin Contos of Genoa Area (46-2) in the semifinals later this evening.
Unable to join Vanderhorst and Martin in the semifinals was sophomore 106 pounder Kellan Anderson as he dropped his first match of the season to Gavin Owens of Pemberville Eastwood (44-2) by the score of 7-1.
“Yeah, that one is a bummer because Kellan had beaten him (Owens) earlier in the year at LCC,” Vanderhorst said. “But the difference this time is we couldn’t get out from the bottom. That kid is really good on top.”
Owens picked up an early takedown on a scramble and then turned Anderson for three back points to take a 5-0 lead.
Anderson chose bottom in the second and once again Owens turned the Buccaneer wrestler for two more back points.
And from there it was a matter of whether or not Anderson could catch Owens in a big move, which never happened.
“That was a match we wanted to control from our feet, but it didn’t happen,” Vanderhorst explained. “It stinks that Cael and Kellan were wrestling at the same time, but that’s what happens when you have who kids at state who are close in weight.”
Anderson, who placed sixth a year ago at 106 pounds, saw his hopes of finishing high on the podium end in his consolation match against Nolan Frye of Cuyahoga Heights (45-8). The Buccaneer wrestler just couldn’t overcome an early takedown and three near-fall points in the second period as Anderson dropped an 8-3 decision to end his sophomore year with an outstanding 50-2 record.
Wrestling resumes tonight with semifinal action set to begin at 6:30pm.
SEMIFINAL: MARTIN AND VANDERHORST WERE SO CLOSE
MARCH 8, 2019 – COLUMBUS
Many times at the state wrestling meet the difference between placing and becoming a state finalist comes down to one opportunity, one move and even one second.
Which is something Cael Vanderhorst and Keringten Martin found out Saturday night in the championship semifinal round at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus as both wrestlers dropped matches where they were within a whisker of pulling out victory.
“That’s wrestling,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “Both Cael and Keringten were right there, but things just didn’t work out the way we wanted.”
Vanderhorst faced unbeaten Lucian Brink of Coshocton (52-0) in the 113-pound semifinal and had the heavy favorite in a bind. After surrounding a takedown in the opening frame, Vanderhorst cut the margin to 2-1 in the second and nearly had Brink turned for back points in the third.
“Cael had a turn in place, but it ended up out of bounds,” Cael’s father and coach said. “If that would have been in the center of the mat we would have at least had three backs and possibly a fall.”
Vanderhorst attempted to turn Brink again on the restart, but the Coshocton wrestler was ready and able to defend it. This forced Vanderhorst into surrounding an escape point as time became a factor.
“We had to kick him with about twenty seconds left and try to get a takedown,” Vanderhorst said. “At that point, it was our only chance.”
And the strategy nearly worked as Cael got in deep on a shot, but time ran out as he turned the corner.
“One more second and we get the two (for the takedown),” Vanderhorst said. “That’s how close Cael was to possibly be wrestling in the finals tomorrow night.”
Covington senior Keringten Martin was just as close, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on a late takedown attempt against Kevin Contos of Genoa Area (47-2).
“He was inches from getting the tying takedown with twenty seconds left,” Vanderhorst said of Martin’s match. “But that kid is good in scramble situations and was able to get out of it for his own takedown.”
And Martin gave credit to where credit is due – his opponent.
“Honestly, he just knew more than me in that particular situation,” Martin explained. “I got in deep, but he was able to turn my momentum against me.”
This forced Martin to go for broke, which resulted in Contos catching him on his back in a cradle for three near fall points to seal the deal, 11-4.
“I had to try something,” Martin said.
And even with the defeat, Martin is having the time of his life in his final high school tournament.
“Yeah, I’m bummed a little bit because I wanted to be in the finals, but this is awesome,” Martin said of his state experience to this point. “I’m having a blast and enjoying every minute of it.”
The Buccaneer senior will wrestle tomorrow morning in the consolation semifinal against Ryan Marvin of Swanton, the same wrestler Martin defeated to start the tournament on Friday.
“We are one-and-one against each other,” Martin said of his upcoming opponent. “I’m going to wrestle my best and try to finish as high as I can on the podium. That’s been my goal throughout the tournament and that’s still my focus now.”
Vanderhorst will wrestle Collin Yinger of Nelsonville-York (40-6) tomorrow morning in the consolation semifinal.
“We just have to put these matches behind us and move on,” Eric Vanderhorst said. “I’m pleased with how Cael and Keringten are wrestling, so I think they can come back tomorrow and do well.”
Wrestling resumes Saturday at 10:00am.
PLACEMENT ROUNDS: MARTIN FINISHES 3RD, VANDERHORST 4TH
MARCH 9, 2019 – COLUMBUS
Saturday was a fitting end to a memorable state tournament for the Covington Buccaneers as senior Keringten Martin placed third at 152 pounds and sophomore Cael Vanderhorst took fourth at 113 pounds to give the program at least one state placer for the 12th consecutive year and 25th state medal in school history (22nd state medal since 2005).
“That’s a nice run,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
In the consolation semifinal on Saturday, Keringten Martin faced off with Ryan Marvin of Swanton in a rematch from the first round of the tournament where Martin picked up a 9-5 win.
This time points were hard to come by as both wrestlers were very sound defending each other’s shot attempts. But after a scoreless opening frame, Martin was able to escape from the bottom and picked up a huge takedown with 18 seconds left in the frame for a 3-0 lead.
Marvin chose bottom in the third and Martin was forced to surrender the escape point to make the score 3-1. The Buccaneer wrestler then fended off a late takedown attempt by Marvin to hold on for the 3-1 win.
“I lost to him at LCC and beat him in my first match here, so I knew it was important to score the first points,” Martin said. “He’s good and the first points in a match like this is huge.”
Coach Vanderhorst felt it was the difference in the match.
“We knew that was a toss-up match and the one who got the first takedown was probably going to win,” Vanderhorst said. “When Keringten got that takedown we felt pretty good.”
Martin advanced to the consolation final against Noah Inboden of Nelsonville-York.
And it took some adjustments during the match by Martin to get the job done in a 4-1 victory for third place.
“That kid is a stud on top and we got out of position a couple of times, which had me worried,” Vanderhorst said. “But Keringten made some great adjustments during the match, which is very hard to do at this level.”
Martin also came up big with a takedown late in the first period.
“That was big because Keringten didn’t have to get out off of bottom in the second period,” said Vanderhorst. “It put all of the pressure on the other guy.”
Martin surrendered an escape in the early seconds of the third and was able to stay in solid position on his feet throughout the remainder of the match. This forced Inboden to take a chance late and Martin was able to catch his opponent for a match-sealing takedown.
“That was a case where the other kid had to try something and Keringten was able to catch him out of position,” Vanderhorst said. “The first takedown and then Keringten being able to fend off a few turns was the difference in the match.”
For Martin, who becomes the 14th wrestler in Buccaneer history to earn a state medal, the experience at state was something he will carry with him the rest of his life.
“It feel so good,” Martin said of becoming a state placer. “I knew coming in to this season that I had to have the right diet, the right training and the right mindset. It hasn’t totally sunk in yet, but this feels great.”
He also had the time of his life accomplishing his goals.
“I came here to have fun and that’s what I did,” he continued. “That mindset took a lot of pressure off and I really wasn’t nervous at all. I basically didn’t have anything to lose.”
Cael Vanderhorst (50-6) became just the 8th wrestler in school history to become a multiple state placer as he took fourth at 113 pounds after placing eighth a year ago as a freshman. He also captured his 100th career win.
Being a competitor, Cael is happy to finish higher on the podium than last year, but hoped for more.
“It’s pretty good, I guess, to get fourth, but I’m a little disappointed because I wanted more,” he said. “I guess I can’t dwell on it now.”
In Cael’s 8-0 win over Collin Yinger of Nelsonville-York in the consolation semifinal round, Vanderhorst set the tone of the match with an early takedown. Then after escaping to start the second period, the Buccaneer sophomore recorded another takedown and nearly picked up the pin. Instead, Vanderhorst settled for three back points and an 8-0 lead with two minutes left to wrestle.
And the final two-minutes was a clinic on wrestling from the top position as Vanderhorst controlled Yinger for the entire third period to preserve the 8-0 major decision victory.
“We haven’t wrestled him before, but we knew he was good on top,” Eric Vanderhorst said of Yinger. “Cael did a great job of getting to his feet and was dominant on top. That was a very nice dominating match.”
In his consolation semifinal match, Cael faced Caleb Edwards of Rootstown in a rematch from the quarterfinals where Vanderhorst defeated the Rootstown wrestler 13-8.
This time it was a low scoring match as neither wrestler could gain much offensive success. Vanderhorst scored first on an escape in the second period, but Edwards was able to record a critical takedown off of a scramble midway through the third period.
“We looked at the first match and we figured out how to stop his shots,” Eric Vanderhorst explained. “We were able to shut him (Edwards) down except for the one time and that was the difference in the match.”
Vanderhorst was close to getting a reversal and then close to recording an escape, but Edwards was able to hold on for the narrow 2-1 win.
“Yeah, we were close to getting a reversal and an escape, but couldn’t get it,” Vanderhorst said. “That kid was projected to win it this year, so he’s tough. Cael wrestled him twice and beat him once, so he’s right there.”
But the fact that Vanderhorst became a two-time state placer as a sophomore and was very close to winning the two matches he lost only ads fuel to the fire for his junior year.
“It’s good to know that I’m almost there,” Cael said of coming up just short of advancing to the finals. “I just have to keep working hard and try to get there next year.”
Vanderhorst the coach isn’t ready to look forward to next year quite yet. Instead, he is soaking in what his three Buccaneer wrestlers were able to accomplish at state.
“Any time you have kids who finish on the podium with a state medals around their necks, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “Of course, Kellan (Anderson) is disappointed, but I’m definitely not disappointed in him because he had a great year to finish 50-2. I’m super proud of all three of the kids.”
What is bittersweet is the fact that Martin will not be back next year. The senior finished his season with a 54-3 record and recorded over 150 wins in his career.
“I’m really happy for Keringten,” continued Vanderhorst. “He really worked hard and wrestled hard over here and he won some big matches to finish third. That’s a great way for him to end his career.”
For Martin, placing third at state is rewarding, but what made it even more special was the experience of competing at state in two straight years with close friends Cael Vanderhorst and Kellan Anderson.
“I remember coming over (at state) to drill with Lance (Miller) when I was a sophomore and that experience helped me a lot,” Martin said “Having Cael and Kellan here with me the last two years made it all that much better.”
And the leadership Martin provided Anderson and Vanderhorst is something Cael hopes to pass on to teammates down the line.
“Keringten has been the center of the team, our leader,” said Cael. “It’s definitely not going to be the same in the room without him. Kellan and I will just have to step up as leaders now.”
Which hopefully leads to more Buccaneer success in 2020.