By Ben Robinson
COLUMBUS — The Covington freshmen duo of Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst walked onto the mat Friday night for Session 3 of the 81st Annual State Wrestling Tournament knowing they already secured one of the eight spots on the podium.
And it was a case of one Buccaneer wrestlers running into a much more seasoned opponent and the other Covington wrestler coming up just short in yet another razor thin match.
“Yeah, a lot of matches can go either way over here (at state),” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “A lot of times there’s not much separation between placing and not placing.”
For Anderson, he had a monumental task in his quest to knock off highly touted Casey Barnett of Milan Edison in the championship semifinal at 106 pounds.
And despite giving a great account of himself, Anderson fell by the score of 9-2.
“We knew what he (Barnett) was going to do, but couldn’t stop him a few times,” said Vanderhorst. “Cael wrestled him at junior high state so we knew he was a tough kid.”
Barnett built a 9-0 lead in the third period and was attempting to ride out the clock when the Buccaneer wrestler turned the tables with a reversal and nearly found himself in position to put Barnett on his back for a possible miraculous comeback win.
But it wasn’t meant to be as Barnett was too slick and was able to ward off Anderson’s gutty effort.
“Kellan never quit wrestling and was able to score at the end there,” Vanderhorst explained. “A couple more seconds and who knows, but you have to give him (Barnett) credit because he was able to stay out of trouble.”
Anderson, who falls to 48-8 on the season, falls into the consolation bracket where he will face Wyatt Riddle of East Clinton in a rematch of last week’s district finals match.
“Keep making improvements,” said Vanderhorst in regards to the plan for Saturday. “Kellan is wrestling well, so hopefully he can avenge last week’s loss to him (Riddle).”
For Cael Vanderhorst, he found himself so close once again to advancing in the consolation rounds, but came up short against Antonio Lecki of Millbury Lake.
First, trailing 2-1 in the first period, Vanderhorst was very close to recording a reversal when the time ran out.
Then in the second period, Vanderhorst had Lecki locked up in a tilt, but couldn’t turn his opponent far enough to be awarded back points.
“Cael was so close to turning him with the tilt and that would have probably been the win,” said Vanderhorst. “We also almost had the reversal earlier and those two sequences there were the difference in the match.”
Because Cael had to take his chances trailing 3-2 with the clock ticking away. Lecki was able to ward off the shot attempt and catch the Buccaneer wrestler for a takedown and two back points to make the final margin 7-2.
“Cael is so close to being much higher on the podium,” Vanderhorst said. “There were so many close chances, but that’s the way it goes when you have really good wrestlers facing each other.”
Still, Vanderhorst – the father – is thrilled his son, Cael, will be wrestling for seventh place tomorrow morning, while Kellan Anderson will be wrestling for anywhere from third to sixth.
“Absolutely,” smiled Vanderhorst. “It’s been a great weekend so far and hopefully we can win the rest of our matches tomorrow.”
Wrestling resumes at 10:00am tomorrow.