By Rob Kiser
Piqua sophomore wrestler Sam Herndon (113 pounds ) picked as good a time as any for his first tournament win.
Herndon advanced to the title match in the Centerville 2 D-I sectional with a pin and tech fall, then defeated Vandalia-Butler freshman Josh Suddeth for the second time in three weeks to take the title.
Herndon joined Jake Hetzler (285), Andrew Bolin (138) and Nick Baker (120) in advancing on to the district tournament.
“I don’t think I have ever won a tournament before,” Herndon said. “I knew I was going to have to wrestle well.”
Herndon, who was voted the first seed, pinned Abrum Barnhiser of Middletown in 2:50, then won by tech fall over fourth seed Phoemix Robinson of Fairborn 15-0 in the semifinals.
“Being the first seed doesn’t mean anything,” Herndon said. “You still have to go out and wrestle. It doesn’t matter where you are seeded.”
Waiting for him in the final was the second seed, Suddeth.
Two weeks ago, in the GWOC semifinals, the two had wrestled to a 0-0 deadlock after six minutes, before Herndon won with a takedown in overtime.
This time, there was much more scoring, before Herndon emerged with a 7-5 victory.
“The margin was still the same,” Herndon said. “The guy is a good wrestler. He wrestled a strong match.”
The first period was scoreless again.
Starting down in the second period, Herndon got a reversal and added a takedown to take a 4-1 lead to the third period and held on for a 7-5 victory.
“I think Sam (Herndon) was more prepared this time around,” Piqua coach Scott Kaye said. “Sam just had a tremendous tournament. He wrestled really strong.”
Bu virtue of his win, Herndon will wrestle a fourth-place finisher from another sectional at district.
“I am just going to have to go out and wrestle well at district, no matter who I am wrestling,” Herndon said.
Hetzler had a strong showing, finishing second.
He had two first period pins to advance to the title match, sticking Kyle Holt of Tecumseh in 1:22 and Cade Ball of Fairmont in 1:16, before running into top seed Tim Tanner-Blair of Lakota West in the championship match. Hetzler lost by pin i n38 seconds.
“Jake (Hetzler) had a real solid tournament,” Kaye said. “The Fairmont kid had pinned him at the GWOC. This time, he was able to get a reversal, put him on his back and pin him.”
Bolin lived up to his third seed.
After a 6-1 decision over Jarett Thomas of Beavercreek, Bolin faced second seed Keyan Jumer of Wayne, the GWOC champion. Jumper pinned him in 1:08.
Bolin rebounded. Needing a win to secure a district berth, Bolin pinned fourth seed Sebastian Beachler of Miamisburg in 3;55 and decisioned fifth seed Joey Bradberry of Lakota West 4-0 in the third-place match.
“Andrew (Bolin) only had the one loss,” Kaye said. “That was the Wayne kid who had pinned him at GWOC. He had had him on his back and just wasn’t strong enough to hold him there and got pinned. He wrestled him better this time around.”
Baker finished fourth in a strong weight class.
Baker the fourth seed, opened with a 13-6 win over fifth seed Gavin Fogel of Fairmont, before being pinned by top seed Colin Neuner of Beavercreek.
He recorded a 13-5 major decision over Gavin Sineff of Beavercreek to assure himself of going to district, before losing 4-1 to third seed Bailey Suddeth of Vandalia-Butler in the third-place match.
“For Nick (Baker), just getting to district was a big accomplishment, considering how tough a class he was in,” Kaye said.
Jesse Ceyler (126) — who was 2-3 with a pin — and Clayton Crowell (170) both finished sixth.
Brennan Hicks (152) — who had one win — and Tristan Hostetter (132) both failed to place.
“All four of those guys have worked hard all year,” Kaye said. “They just had a couple matches that didn’t go their way. It is unfortunate they were not able to put themselves in position to go to district.”
Piqua finished ninth overall in the tournament with 83.5 points.
The district is Friday and Saturday at Trent Arena, with the top four in each weight class advancing on to state.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.