David Robinson locks up a pin during the sectional tournament.

Nine of the eleven Covington wrestlers who participated in the sectional tournament on Saturday advanced to next week’s district championships by securing top-four finishes in their respective weight classes.

Covington played host to the 2021 sectional wrestling meet on Saturday in what was a unique situation due to the recent COVID pandemic.

Instead of competing in a traditional two-day tournament, the schedule was modified for one day with two separate sessions so parents would be able to attend.

The morning session consisted of wrestlers in weight classes from 106 to 145 pounds competing for the top four spots to qualify for the district meet, while the afternoon session consisted of weights from 152 through heavyweight.

And when the dust settled the Buccaneers qualified nine of the eleven wrestlers who competed and also advanced another wrestler as an alternate.

This led to a runner-up finish in the team standings as Covington finished with 179 team points – second to a very talented Greenon team, who tallied 215 team points.

Carson Taylor gave up a significant amount of weight, but still qualified for districts at 113 pounds.

At 106 pounds, freshman Michael Hagan (39-1) entered the tournament as the second seed and cruised to the finals with a win by default over Keaton Watts of Twin Valley South and then a 21 second pin of Jacob Haser of Triad. He then faced #5 seed Kyle Schroer of Troy Christian, who upset #1 seed Kade Thomas of Ben Logan in the semifinal round.

Hagan wasn’t about to suffer the same fate in the finals as he took the action to the Troy Christian wrestler from the whistle. The result was a 49 second pin for Hagan in the finals for his first sectional championship and a trip to next week’s district meet.

Covington suffered heartbreaking news prior to the tournament as freshman 113-pounder Jericho Quinter suffered a season-ending injury. Quinter was originally slated as the top seed and had high hopes of making a serious run at qualifying for the state tournament.

With Quinter out, freshman Carson Taylor (33-3) stepped into the bracket as an unseeded wrestler. Taylor, who wrestled primarily at 106 pounds all season, put together one of the most impressive showings all season for the Buccs. Surrendering close to 15 pounds, Taylor nearly knocked off top seeded T.J. Fugate of Northridge in the opening round before falling 4-2 on a takedown in the final seconds of the match.

Still, the gritty Buccaneer freshman was able to rebound by winning his next three matches to finish third and qualify for the district meet. First, Taylor pinned Isabel Branson of Indian Lake in 1:45 and then followed with a 37 second pin of #3 seed Brayden Childers. Taylor closed out his memorable day by defeating #4 seed Jacob Roth of Ben Logan by the score of 6-0.

Buccaneer senior Kellan Anderson (31-3) continued in his quest to become a four-time state qualifier as he advanced to the finals with a 1:47 pin of Clayton Woodgeard of Twin Valley South and a 52 second pin of #4 seed Damian Moler of Brookville. This pitted the top two seeds in the championship match at 126 pounds as Anderson faced #2 seed Troy Kennedy of Troy Christian. In a close bout, Anderson came up on the short end of a 5-1 decision.

Still, Anderson is in prime position heading into the district meet for a possible fourth state birth and a second state medal after placing sixth at state as a freshman.

Like Anderson, senior Cael Vanderhorst (45-0) continued his mission of qualifying for state for the fourth consecutive year and the unbeaten Buccaneer 138 pounder breezed to a sectional title with four dominating wins.

Vanderhorst recorded a 1:18 pin over Austin Archer of Ben Logan, a 2:57 pin over Cristian Snider of Arcanum and a 4:48 victory by pin over #4 seed Nate Cummins of Indian Lake. Vanderhorst then won a 17-5 major decision victory over #3 seed Mason Esterline of Brookville in the finals.

Also like his senior teammate, Anderson, Vanderhorst sets himself up for a possible state birth for the fourth straight year and a third state medal, which could have been four if the state championships weren’t cancelled a year ago due to COVID.

The 145-pound weight class fielded the most wrestlers in the morning session, but Covington senior David Robinson (27-11) was able to battle his way through to qualify for districts with a fourth place finish.

Robinson opened the tournament with a 2:58 pin of Garrett Campbell of Preble Shawnee and followed with a 56 second pin of Gage Crase of Twin Valley South. Then, in the semifinal, Robinson faced top seed Luke Dolan of Brookville and dropped an 8-3 decision. He rebounded in the consolation bracket with a 2:30 pin in a rematch with Campbell, but dropped the consolation final to #3 seed Lucan Valley of Greenon.

In the afternoon session saw Covington wrestlers competing in four of the most difficult weight classes in the entire tournament – 152, 160, 170 and 182.

At 152 pounds, junior Connor Sindelir (32-12) found himself seeded sixth in a stacked weight class from top to bottom. And after dropping his first match to #3 seed Cameron Haney of Arcanum, Sindelir battled his way back through the consolation bracket with three straight wins to push his ticket to the district meet.

Sindelir pinned Scotty Leach of Northridge in 45 seconds and followed with a 2:53 pin of Ben Logan’s Matthew Beikman. In his go-to-district bout, Sindelir gutted out a 6-3 victory over #5 seed Mason Starnes of Brookville. He then dropped a narrow 6-3 decision to #2 seed Evan Davis of Greenon in the consolation final.

Sophomore Trey Kiser (19-13) found himself in a stacked 160-pound weight class and dropped both of his matches, first to Josh Duncan of Tri-County North and then to #5 seed Riley Stevenson of Preble Shawnee. Kiser, who contributed greatly throughout the year in providing Covington valuable team points in big tournaments, ended his season with a 19-13 record.

Another loaded weight class was at 170 pounds, where junior Trentin Alexander (35-5) came within a whisker of claiming a sectional championship – only to drop a heartbreaking 11-10 decision to Greenon’s Kam Cox in the finals.

On his way to the finals Alexander received a first round bye and then pinned Paul McDonald of Troy Christian in 1:13. He followed with a 12-2 major decision victory over #4 seed Connor Whitt of Ben Logan for his 100th career win.

Arguably the most difficult weight class of the sectional tournament came at 182 pounds with Buccaneer junior Jensen Wagoner seeded fourth with a 39-1 record coming in. After a first round bye, Wagoner dropped lost a razor thin 3-1 decision in overtime to Troy Christian’s Lee Burkett, who was seeded fifth.

Wagoner rebounded in the consolation round with a 21 second pin of Preble Shawnee’s Nathan Grubb, but dropped his go-to-district bout to #3 seed Isaiah Leasure of Triad. He closed out the tournament with a 3:22 pin over #6 seed Joey Kontz of Northridge to improve his season record to (41-3) and secure an alternate spot for districts.

At 220 pounds, Covington junior Ricky Stephan (15-10) entered the tournament as the fifth seed and advanced to the semifinal round with an upset pin over #4 seed Christopher Parker of Northridge in 1:40.

Unfortunately Stephan dropped into the consolation round by losing to #1 seed Bronson Stacy of Brookville, but he secured his spot at districts with a gritty 8-6 win over Matthew Creamer of Ben Logan. He then dropped his consolation final bout to #2 seed Roman Debolt of Greenon by a razor thin 6-4 score.

Junior heavyweight Scott Blumenstock (17-16) also advanced to the championship semifinal round with an upset victory – pinning #4 seed Brad Norrod of Northridge in just 30 seconds.

After dropping bis next match to #1 seed Cadman Roe of Ben Logan, Blumenstock secured a birth at districts with a 1:59 of Indian Lake’s Dylan Valerio. He then dropped his consolation final match to #3 seed Logan Marburger of Brookville.

The eight Buccaneer district qualifiers and one district alternate will make the short trip to Troy’s Hobart Arena on Friday for a chance to qualify for the state meet.

Trentin Alexander qualified for the district tournament at 170 pounds.
Cael Vanderhorst heads to districts with hopes of reaching the state tournament for the fourth straight year.
Kellan Anderson is on the path to reaching state for the fourth straight season.