For the first time since 2015, the Covington wrestling program produced three state medals as Cael Vanderhorst finished fourth while Kellan Anderson and Michael Hagan both finished eighth.
MARCH 13, 2021 – MARION
Three of the four Buccaneer wrestlers who qualified for the state wrestling tournament secured spots on the podium after one day of wrestling at Marion Harding High School in Marion, Ohio.
Buccaneer freshman Michael Hagan (43-3) started the Buccaneers off with a dominant 7-3 victory over Caiden Heller (28-2) of Waynedale. After surrendering an early takedown, Hagan outscored his opponent 7-1 the rest of the way on a reversal, an escape and a pair of takedowns of his own.
Hagan then dropped his next bout to Max Hermes (53-4) of Milan Edison, but rebounded in the consolation round with a 6-1 victory over Dylan Ward (28-14) of Martins Ferry. The victory secured Hagan’s first state medal of his high school career as he hopes to finish as high as third place at 106 pounds.
Next up for Michael is a showdown with Miami East’s Olivia Shore (17-3), who became the first ever female to place in the state wrestling meet.
Kellan Anderson (37-6) found the going rough in his opening match at state as he dropped a 7-0 decision to Alec Homan (36-2) of Monroeville. But the Buccaneer senior responded in grand fashion by recording a 15-0 technical fall win over Brock Wygle of Utica.
Looking to secure his second state medal of his prestigious career, Anderson wasn’t to be denied in a dominant 8-2 win over the champion from the Coshocton District, Skyler King of Barnesville (33-10). Anderson waisted little time taking control of the match with a quick takedown and then opened the second period with a reversal and two back points to take a commanding 6-0 lead. He picked up two more back points in the closing period to secure the win.
Next for Anderson is Hayden Kuhn (41-4) of Ashland Crestview.
Fulfilling his goal of becoming a three-time state placer, Cael Vanderhorst also rebounded from an early setback.
Vanderhorst (51-2) was leading Brodie Dominque (40-3) of Archbold 3-1 late in the second period before surrounding a reversal and two back points. Then, after several attempts to turn his opponent in the third, Vanderhorst was forced to surrender an escape. Unfortunately the Buccaneer senior couldn’t hit the big move and dropped into the consolation bracket with the 6-3 defeat.
But, as he has done all throughout his career, Vanderhorst rebounded quickly to defeat Greyson Siders (25-14) of Dalton by the score of 4-1 and followed with a dominating 4:03 pin of Aiden Aiello (25-3) of Ready to secure a spot on the state podium for the third time.
Next for Vanderhorst is Kaden Blair (41-10) of Fairview.
Buccaneer senior Trentin Alexander took to the mat in the afternoon session and found himself with a stiff challenge against Sevi Garza (37-0) of Rittman.
And Alexander was wrestling extremely well, trailing the unbeaten wrestler by one point 2-1 midway through the second period. Unfortunately, in the process of defending a takedown attempt by Garza, Alexander injured his leg and in the process was pinned by Garza with 55 seconds left in the frame.
Alexander spent much of the next hour in the training room to determine if he would be able to wrestle in the consolation round, a demand he was granted through persistence.
And despite being less than 100%, the Buccaneer senior left it all on the mat in what turned out to be the final match of his high school career against Kameron Hughes (36-9) of Martins Ferry.
Neither wrestler could score in the opening frame, but Alexander took a 1-0 lead with an escape to open the second – a lead he would maintain going into the third period.
Hughes tied the score with an escape to start the final two minutes and then recorded a takedown to claim a 3-1 lead.
Alexander cut the margin to 3-2 with an escape of his own and then converted on a throw in an attempt at victory. Unfortunately the clock was a tick too fast as the Buccaneer wrestler ran out of time in finishing the winning maneuver.
Still, it was a magical run for Trentin Alexander as he concluded his senior season as a state qualifier with a 39-9 record.
The three remaining Buccaneer wrestlers will continue in their quest to climb the podium beginning tomorrow morning at 10am.
MARCH 14, 2021 – MARION
Sunday was the conclusion to a magical weekend of the Covington wrestling program as the Buccaneers finished with three state placers – the most in one year since the Buccs had three placers in 2015.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” said a very delighted Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “With all of the adversity we have been through with all of the injuries, the schedule changes because of Covid – all of it – to have three state placers is just awesome.”
Leading the way for Covington was senior Cael Vanderhorst (53-3) with a fourth place finish at 138 pounds. He becomes just the third Buccaneer wrestler to place at state three times, joining four-time state placer Andrew Dehart and three-time placer Ryan Ford. If it wasn’t for the cancellation of the state wrestling meet a year ago, Vanderhorst would have likely joined Dehart as a four-time state placer.
And Vanderhorst is one who overcame more than his fair share of adversity as he suffered a broken foot suffered in August – an injury that forced him to miss his senior season of football.
“Cael overcame a lot to get back here (at state),” said Eric, who is also Cael’s father. “To see him become a four-time qualifier and finish on the podium for the third time is very gratifying.”
The Buccaneer senior started off the day with an 8-1 victory over Kaiden Blair (41-11) of Fairview and advanced to the consolation final with a 10-0 major decision victory over Michael Harris ((35-5) of Smithville.
In the final bout of his high school career Vanderhorst went head-to-head against Pierce Taylor of McNicholas, the same wrestler who narrowly defeated the Buccaneer wrestler 3-0 in the district semifinal last weekend. The rematch was another tough battle, but a five-point move by Taylor late in the opening period was the deciding factor as the score ended with Vanderhorst on the short end of a 6-1 margin.
Vanderhorst was joined on the podium by senior teammate Kellan Anderson (37-8), who finished eighth at 126 pounds to finish his career as a four-time state qualifier and two-time state placer.
“Kellan had a tough road to get here (to state),” Vanderhorst said. “The district was tough and he got in as a four – and then to finish up as a four-time qualifier and two-time placer is a credit to Kellan and his work ethic.”
Anderson becomes the ninth Covington wrestler to earn at least two state medals in a career. He placed sixth as a freshman at 106 pounds and eighth this year. Like Vanderhorst, Anderson had an opportunity to earn another state medal taken away last year with the cancellation of the state tournament.
After battling through the consolation rounds on Saturday to stay in contention, Anderson dropped a close 6-2 decision to Hayden Kuhn (43-4) of Ashland Crestview. He then faced Alex Homan (39-4) of Monroeville for seventh place in what was a rematch of a 7-0 loss for Anderson in the first round of the tournament.
This time around Anderson nearly turned the tables as he was close to recording back points in the waning moments. Unfortunately the clock ran out with the Buccaneer wrestler come up short, 5-2.
Lastly, freshman Michael Hagan had his first taste of state and walked off the mat as the 15th Covington wrestler to place as he finished eighth at 106 pounds.
“I’m so proud of Michael with the way he competed,” praised Vanderhorst. “He’s just the fourth freshman ever to place for us and two of those guys are Kellan and Cael. To place at state as a freshman is extremely tough.”
After securing a spot on the podium on Saturday, Hagan was looking to climb the ladder on Sunday. Unfortunately he dropped his first match of the day to Olivia Shore (18-5) of Miami East and followed with a major decision defeat to Trevor Wilcox (43-7) of Ostego.
Hagan finishes his freshman campaign with an outstanding 43-5 record.