The London Middle School wrestling team dominated the Mid-State League Championship Tournament Jan. 28 and walked away with its second straight league crown.
The fact that this happened should come as no surprise to those who know anything about the current crop of athletes roaming the halls at London Middle School.
With a strong collection of motivated individuals pushing one another, London has achieved big things this winter and coach Matt White continues to strive for more.
“Before the beginning of the tournament I had challenged my wrestlers to compete at a higher level than we had the previous year. When we won the MSL Tournament last year I had seven individual champions,” the coach said. “Not only did they meet that expectation, they exceeded it by having 12. The boys are in constant competition with one another from week-to-week to see who can produce the best results. They push each other to be better and it has translated over to the mat.”
London scored 315 points in the tournament held at West Jefferson Jan. 28. The host Roughriders were second with 188, and were followed by Columbus Academy (116), Whitehall (91), Bexley (42) and Grandview (0).
Individual league championships were won by Brady Fisher (80 pounds), Jimmy Cleaver (86), Josiah Kennedy (98), James Keplinger (104), Luke Peart (110), Khaleb Comer (116), Siaf Ullah (122), Antwaun Burns (128), Camden Whitacre (134), Richard Dodson (142), Thad Huff (172) and Antonio Burns (205).
White has helped build up the middle school wrestling program, but he gives a lot of credit to high school varsity coach Rich Burns for developing the district’s youth program.
“When I first took over coaching the program four years ago we finished the season with only six wrestlers,” White said. “This year we finished with 22. We have always had great individual wrestlers, but the program was so small we were never able to compete on a team level.
“This season we wrestled in seven tournaments winning the overall team championships in three of them. We placed second in another and third, fourth and fifth in the others. Much of the credit needs to go to, Rich Burns, for running a great youth program, The London Wrestling Club. Coaching is easy and fun when most of your boys come to you already with experience and he has been with most of those boys since they were about five or six-years old.”
A collection of London Middle School wrestlers competed in the OAC Junior High District Tournament. All six placed qualifying them for the Junior High State Tournament which will be held March 18-19 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown.
Two wrestlers took home individual district championships, including Thad Huff at 164 and Antwaun Burns at 120. Burns is undefeated on the year at 30-0. He is the returning Grade School State Champion from last year as a sixth grader.
London High School’s varsity program seems to be in good shape for the foreseeable future.
“With the addition of the middle school wrestlers to the boys who are already in the varsity program, this team will be one of the toughest in the area over the next few years,” White said.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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