Two Miami East wrestlers have their eyes on the top prize at the Division III state tournament this weekend at the Schottenstein Center.
And for good reason.
Graham Shore (120 pounds) and Alex Isbrandt (138 pounds) are four time state qualifiers and three-time state placers.
Shore placed seventh as a freshman and third each of the past two years, while Isbrandt placed seventh as a freshman and sophomore and second last year.
Isbrandt has come the closest of the three to winning a state championship, making it to the finals last year before dropping a heartbreaking 8-6 sudden victory decision to Mechanicsburg’s Alex Rhine.
“I’ve put that one behind me,” Isbrandt said of last year’s loss. “I’m just focused on what I’ve got to do this year.”
Isbrandt, 54-1, is favored to make it to the state finals again this year, where — if the projections hold true — he’ll likely square off against Troy Christian senior Jared Ford, who placed fifth last season. The two county wrestlers already have met four times this season, with Isbrandt winning all four — although all four matches have been closely contested affairs. Those four losses to Isbrandt are the only four losses Ford has all season.
Shore, 49-1, will be looking not only to win his first state title, but to make it to his first championship match. Last year, he lost 4-2 in the quarterfinals to Genoa Area’s Julian Sanchez. Two years ago, he lost 3-2 to Shadyside’s Greg Quinn in the semifinals. This year, Shore is projected to make it to the championship match, where a rematch with Sanchez — who is in the other half of the bracket this year — likely awaits.
Sophomore Kaleb Nickels (126) is making his second trip to state for Miami East, while junior Brenden Dalton (220) is making his first trip.
Nickels, 42-12, will Trevor Schaller of Swanton, 34-7; while Dalton, 45-5, will wrestle Hunter Braithwaite, 39-13, of West Jefferson.
ready to go
Versailles has three wrestlers competing in Division III.
Seniors Preston Platfoot (132) and Jeffrey Ware (285) and junior Jacob Poling (120) will all be competing.
Poling, 43-11, will open against Jake White, 30-6, of Akron Manchester.
Platfoot, 44-17, will open against Niko Chilson of Rootstwon. Chilson finished fifth at 126 pounds last year.
Ware, 45-9, will open against Joe Warren, 39-9, of Smithsville.