XENIA — There is no shortage of confidence stemming from Legacy Christian after its district championship.
“I think we will win [at state] no matter what to be quite honest,” LCA head coach Tim Begley said. “With the way our kids are wrestling, I think we win it no matter what. We’ve got to really, really stub our toe.”
The defending Division III champions have a school record nine wrestlers which will compete beginning Friday at the OHSAA state tournament. The three-day competition is returning to the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State University’s campus after its cancellation in 2021 and move to hold the competition at three different venues last year.
Dillon Campbell, Camron Lacure and Gavin Brown are a trio of returning individual champions, with 17 in all across the three divisions returning to the top stage. Campbell and Lacure both are looking to repeat at 120 and 138 pounds, respectively. Brown is attempting to be a champion in a third weight class, competing at 150 pounds this year after previously winning titles at 126 and 145.
Dillon’s group may be the toughest in any division with eight total wrestlers whom have placed in the top-four at a previous state tournament having qualified again. But Begley believes he is the best wrestler in the state and cane come through again.
“I think he was eighth last I looked in the country,” he said of Dillion. “He went 48-0 last year. Just an outstanding kid, outstanding wrestler. Can’t say enough about him and he’s only a sophomore.”
Nick Alvarez was a medalist at 165 last year, as well as Logan Attisano at 120. Eli Campbell also will look to improve upon his runner-up finish at 113.
Brayden Brown (132), Boede Campbell (144) and Ethan Cooper (157) round out the group heading to Columbus.
Begley hopes at least five make it to the championship round, but also said he makes sure his wrestlers know the final round is not always the most important.
“The odd thing is many, many times even if you’re the No. 1 kid, your toughest match may not be the finals. … You know, maybe the quarterfinals or it might be your first round. You get some kids up there that are there for a reason.”
The team has a goal to exceed last year’s individual results, but a team title is the biggest.
Legacy won the title by 11.5 points last season. The Knights are not necessarily looking to improve upon that margin, as winning is being prioritized over gaining extra points.
“What I tell them now is you get a chance to pin a man you should do it,” Begley said. “Especially here you don’t want to take a chance to get hurt, and you don’t want to take a chance of wild card kids coming up.
“Just wrestle to score your points one at a time and then if you get a chance for the pin you pin him.”
First-round matches are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, with the initial consolation round in the evening.
Saturday has quarter and semifinal matches. The final third through seventh placing will be Sunday morning, as only the championship matches are to take place in the evening.
The nine competitors for LCA will be the most of any D-III team at the tournament, giving the Knights an immediate advantage in opportunities to score points.
Its numbers supremacy is enough to not find a fault in Begley’s confidence. The possibility of upsets aside, the roster of accomplishments by Knights’ grapplers helps push the portrayal as the team to beat heading to Columbus.
“I mean, I’ve seen things happen at that tournament that are just amazing,” Begley said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to go there. But you know, we’re heavily favored. And if half our guys perform the way they should, we’ll be okay.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.