By Ben Robinson
COLUMBUS — Their state experience didn’t end the way Kellan Anderson and Cael Vanderhorst had hoped, but Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst couldn’t have been more proud of what they were able to accomplish in their first trips to state as freshmen.
“Super proud of them,” said Vanderhorst with a smile on his face. “For them to get here and place as freshmen, it’s awesome.”
Anderson placed sixth at 106 pounds and Vanderhorst finished 8th at 113 pounds to become the 12th and 13th state placers in school history and join former four-time state placer Andrew Dehart as only three freshmen to place at state.
“They join a select group,” said Vanderhorst. “Their names will go up on the board and their banners will hang in the wrestling building when they graduate.”
Anderson opened up the final day of the state tournament with a consolation semifinal bout against Wyatt Riddle (21-3) of East Clinton in a rematch of last week’s district final where Kellan lost 10-2.
But this time Anderson closed the gap thanks to a reversal and two back points resulting in a 4-4 tie after regulation. Unfortunately Riddle was able to record a takedown late in the extra session to hand the Buccaneer wrestler a 6-4 defeat.
Anderson then faced returning state placer Collin Yinger (39-11) of Nelsonville York in the fifth and sixth place match and once again came within a whisker of pulling off the upset only to fall short 4-2.
“Kellan wrestled very, very well,” praised Vanderhorst. “The match against Riddle shows significant improvement from last week (at districts) and his final match was close.”
With his sixth place finish at state, Anderson became the 12th state placer in school history and finished his freshman season with a 48-10 record.
Cael Vanderhorst went into his seventh place match already stinging from close calls in two of his matches at state – his opening round loss 2-1 in the tie-breaker and a loss in the consolation quarterfinal where he was close to sealing a win on a tilt.
And unfortunately Vanderhorst suffered another heartbreaking defeat in his placement match against Austin Guthrie (45-7) of Coshocton by the score of 1-0 in year the tie-breaker.
Vanderhorst closes out his freshman campaign with a 50-8 record and an eighth place finish at 113 pounds to become the 13th state placer in school history.
“Cael was so, so close in some of those matches,” said his father and coach, Eric Vanderhorst. “He won a couple of big matches to place and the matches he lost were razor thin. That just shows how tough it is here (at state)”
Both Buccaneer were in each match they wrestled, which Vanderhorst hopes gives them confidence going into next year.
“That just proves they can compete with anybody,” he said. “We just have to get back to work and refine our technique for next year.”
But not before enjoying the results of a great weekend for the Covington wrestling program.
“Oh, absolutely, it was a great weekend of us,” agreed Vanderhorst. “We had two state placers with Kellan and Cael and two state qualifiers (Keringten Martin and Gage Kerrigan) who gained valuable experience. We have all four of them back next year and a strong group who are hopefully hungry to get here (at state) too.”