A total of three Madison County wrestlers will tangle with the very best the state of Ohio has to offer during the OHSAA state championships this week at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
West Jefferson juniors Joey Buckland (126 pounds) and Hunter Braithwaite (220) will wrestle in the Division III state tournament while Jonathan Alder senior Jacob Johnson (120) will represent his school in the D-II state event.
The OHSAA state championships will begin Thursday, March 8 and continue through Saturday, March 10.
Buckland (40-11) finished second at the D-III district tournament last weekend at Heath High School. He won his first two matches by pin. The first was a quick 1:40 defeat of Jermaine Ingram of Coshocton and the next was a 5:18 defeat of Levi Pemberton of Caldwell.
The semifinal win was a 8-4 decision over Donnell Marshall of Centerburg. In the championship match Buckland was defeated by Klay Reeves of Johnstown Northridge 9-4.
The West Jeff junior will open his quest for a state title Thursday when he squares off with Jamie Viront (40-14), a junior from Massillon Tuslaw. The 126 pound weight class is especially tough. A total of five wrestlers have a combined 10 appearances on the state award’s podium, including Xenia Legacy Christian Academy’s senior Tommy Hoskins who has won three state titles.
Braithwaite (39-13) won his first two matches at the district in Heath. His pinned Cameron Camp of Fort Frye in just 1:10. In his second match he earned a 6-4 decision over Jamie Baisden of Marion Pleasant. His third match ended with a 1:31 pin loss to Donovan McCollister of Nelsonville. He wrestled his way to a 4:37 pin over Keith Wilson of Martins Ferry which qualified him for the state tournament. His final match of the district was a pin loss to Dylan Thompson of North Union in the third-place match.
Braithwaite will meet Casstown Miami East’s Brenden Dalton (45-5) in their state tourney opener. The 220-pound field includes Gaige Willis of Andover Pymatuning Valley (40-0) a returning state champion from a year ago.
The West Jeff wrestlers as a team scored 68 points at the district meet which was good for seventh place. Nelsonville-York easily won the district, scoring 175 points.
West Jefferson’s Mark Woodard (39-13) placed fifth at 160 pounds and just missed qualifying for the state by one spot. West Jeff senior Nate Wilson (34-16) placed sixth at 182 pounds.
The D-III Championship Preliminaries will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Johnson (39-1) was solid in winning the district crown.
His weekend included victories over New Philadelphia’s Lucas Stevens in 2:52 and a 5-2 decision over Thane Kaufman of West Holmes. He then edged Steubenville’s Tyler Muldrew 6-2 in the semifinals and earned a 6-4 OT decision over Brady O’Connor of Indian Valley in the final.
The Alder senior will open state tournament action against sophomore Keegan Kohler of Fairfield Union (33-10). The D-II 120 pound weight class has three other wrestlers who have made the award podium at the state, including Circleville’s Nate Keaton (45-3) a D-II state champion at 113 last year and the two wrestlers who finished behind him Streetsboro’s Dominic Carone (37-2) and Matthew Cardello (33-4) of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA.
Jonathan Alder as a team scored 27 points and finished 19th in the team standings at the district. Johnson was the only Alder wrestler to finish in the top six of any of the weight classes. He returns to the state tournament with a realistic shot at a state title.
The D-II Championship Preliminaries will start at 4:10 p.m. Thursday.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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