COLUMBUS — The Beavercreek High School varsity wrestling team had claimed a team regional wrestling title, and was one of just eight Division I teams in the state to qualify for Sunday’s state dual team wrestling tournament. So the team already had plenty in which to be proud.
But up next was defending state team champion Lakewood St. Edward in Sunday’s opening round.
This wasn’t David vs. Goliath, or Buster Douglas boxing Mike Tyson.
This was first-timer Beavercreek facing all-timer St. Edward.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has held a state wrestling dual team tournament eight years now. Beavercreek was making its first-ever trip to the state tourney; St. Ed has been in all eight, and they’ve won three of the last four and four of those previous eight, and they were the team runner-up two other times.
So many fans looking on from the St. John Arena bleachers probably expected a lopsided St. Edward win.
What they saw instead was a St. Ed win against a Beavercreek team that held its own.
St. Edward claimed a 52-13 win, and the team went on to record its fifth state team title, but the Battlin’ Beavers of Beavercreek wrestled well against the favorites.
“This is great. Any time you get a chance to wrestle one more match, and against someone at the level of St. Eds, it’s great,” Beavercreek coach Gary Wise said after the match. “This is the second time we’ve faced them this year. We scheduled them at the beginning of the year, because I knew we had some good freshmen coming in and I knew we had some good seniors. They needed to see that level (of competition), see what that was about and take away from that.
“What I’m most impressed about is that all our wrestlers fought. Every single one fought. Nobody backed down. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they gave.”
Beavercreek briefly held a 3-0 team lead over the Eagles when Beavers freshman 106-pounder Cameron Mink recorded a 7-6 decision in the dual’s first match. St. Edward then went to the meat of its lineup with four state placers, a pair of state champions and a state qualifier in the mix for seven of the next nine Eagles match wins and a commanding 46-3 lead.
Only three of those matches were determined by a pin, however, as Beavercreek battled gamely. Not one match was determined in the first of the three rounds of regulation.
Starting with senior 182-pounder Gavin Bell, Beavercreek then won three of the final four matches.
Bell was dominating in his 18-5 major decision to earn the Beavers four more points. One hundred and ninety five pounder Tyler Hicks then turned a reverse takedown with 15 seconds left in his match to claim a 3-2 win. Regular 195-pounder Lucas Coomer valiantly stepped up a weight class against 220-pound Eagles state placer Nickolas Lisco and fell by a second-round pin, then Beavers heavyweight Justin Knipper earned a 9-3 decision in the final match.
“We just went up against the best team in the state, and I think we held our own,” Wise said. “And you can learn from what they do, and hopefully move on. … They’re just tough all around. In some weight classes, they’re just in a different level than we are.”
St. Edward defeated Wadsworth in the state semifinals, 50-12. They then edged second-seeded Elyria 36-30 in the final for their fifth state crown.
Wise said his Beavercreek team made progress since the two teams met back on Dec. 7, 2019 up in Lakewood.
“The last time, they scored 60 points against us. They didn’t score 60 against us this time,” he said with a wry smile. “By next decade, we oughtta be right with ‘em!”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.