By Rob Kiser
VERSAILLES — Covington wrestling coach Eric Vanderhorst knew it was going to take every strategy move he could make in the Buccs D-III regional quarterfinal match of the Region 24 State Team Duals Wednesday night.
And when the smoke had cleared, the third seeded Buccs knocked off the second seeded Cavaliers 36-30 despite missing some wrestlers due to injury and having four freshman in the lineup.
The Buccs advance to the regional semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday, where they will wrestle host Versailles. Miami East and Indian Lake will wrestle in the other semifinal.
“That was a lot of fun,” Vanderhorst said after the Buccs. “You could see all the strategy going on. You get to go last in half (seven of the matches). You could see all the strategy going on with both teams.”
That become evident in the second match of the dual.
After Covington’s Kellan Anderson (106) started things off with a major decision, Covington had to go first at 113 pounds.
Vanderhorst elected to forfeit, moving his son Cael Vanderhorst up to 120 pounds. When Coldwater said they forfeited, it appeared it would be a double forfeit.
But, when Coldwater realized what Covington had done, they changed their mind and said they had a wrestler.
“In my mind, once they signaled forfeit that should have been the end of it (it should have been a double forfeit),” Vanderhorst said. “But, we got some points later and so did they. You could see all the strategy going on.”
There were several pivotal matches for the Buccs.
After Vanderhorst received a forfeit at 120 and Riley Richards (126) won a 14-2 major decision to put Covington up 14-12, Austin Flick (138) locked up with Coldwater’s Justin Sigler.
The match was tied 2-2 deep in the third period when Flick escaped with 14 seconds to go for a 3-2 win.
“There were a lot of bonus points involved in the match,” Vanderhorst said. “If that match goes the other way, it finishes in 33-33 tie and some crazy criteria would have decided it.”
A forfeit by Fletcher Metz (152) and a pin by Keringten Martin (160) in 1:16 gave Covington a 29-21 heading into the 182-pound match.
Gavin McReynolds (182) got a late takedown for insurance to lock up a 9-5 win, meaning all Gage Kerrigan had to do was win at 195 to lock up the team win.
Kerrigan dominated the entire match, but with in the closing 10 seconds, he suddenly found himself on his back, before rolling over as Covington fans and Vanderhorst held their breath.
“That (the mover Kerrigan tried) was something you do when you are behind late, not when you are ahead,” Vanderhorst said with a smile. “But, fortunately he got off his back. I am really proud of Gage (Kerrigan). He did a great job.”
That gave Covington an insurmountable 36-21 lead and Coldwater’s wins in the final two matches didn’t matter.
Covington had advanced with a 59-14 win over Parkway.
Vanderhorst (113), Richards (126), Flick (138), Deacon Shields (145), Martin (152) and Kerrigan (195) all had pins.
Dylan Staudt (220) and Bryce Keiser (285) had forfeits, McReynolds had a 17-2 tech fall, Anderson (103) won a 7-0 decision and Hunter Clarkson (170) won a 9-3 decision.
“We knew if we beat Parkway, we would probably wrestle Coldwater (who beat Spencerville 64-6),” Vanderhorst said. “That is good Coldwater team. That is a big win.”
Which took all the right moves from Vanderhorst and a great effort from his team.