VANDALIA – Wayne had four wrestlers place in the top eight in their respective classes to help the Warriors place 8th among Division I schools at the annual Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament.
Held at the Butler Student Activity Center, this year’s tournament took place on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27 & 28.
Senior Jordan Hardrick emerged as champion in the 152 pound weight class by scoring a 9-5 decision in the final over Drew Wiechers of Centerville.
Hardrick drew a first round bye but in the second round of the tourney he won by a fall (pin) in 2:50 against Dan Blosser of Sidney. In the third round Hardrick scored a 15-4 major decision over Will Coffield of Springboro. In the quarterfinals he scored a 7-4 decision over Chase Haehnle of Cincinnati Oak Hills and in the semifinal match won by default over Zane Brown of Male High School out of Louisville, Ky. to set up his victory in the finals against Wiechers.
“Hardrick did exactly what I expected of him for this tournament,” said Wayne Coach Randy Bitsko. “We told him that he needed to step-up and be the man, and he was.”
Heavyweight Jacob Padilla, a sophomore, took 3rd place honors. He opened the tournament with pin in 54 seconds against Patrick Broderick of Bellbrook. In the second round of the tourney Padilla also won by a fall in 33 seconds against Bryon Jones of Sidney. Padilla notched his third pin in as many rounds over Kameron Block of Troy in 1:37 to advance to the quarterfinals where he scored an 8-1 decision of Jeffrey Ware of Versailles.
Padilla eventually lost a 10-1 major decision to Brian Stears of Williamsburg. He bounced back in the consolation semifinal to win by a fall in 2:32 against Jon Hardin of Miamisburg. In the battle for third place Padilla and Ware squared off again with Padilla winning a 3-0 decision.
“Stears is a top notch senior and when you have a top notch sophomore go against a top notch senior, that’s kid of the way things usually go,” Bitsko noted. “That doesn’t mean by the end of the season we can’t fix things. Stears is one of the top two wrestlers in the state, so a seasoned senior is going to beat a superstar sophomore.”
Senior Jared Kleff placed 6th in the 220 pound weight class. After a first round bye Kleff scored a 3-0 decision over Nathan Robinson of Delaware Hayes. Kleff won by a fall in 42 seconds against Anthony Barhorst of Bellbrook in the third round of the tournament and in the quarterfinal match scored a 4-0 decision over John Downing of Buford.
Kleff lost in the semifinal by dropping a 9-3 to Damoreon Travis of Moore Traditional. In the consolation semifinal Kleff lost a 6-1 decision to Bruno Pattison of Bellefontaine. In the battle for 5th place Kleff lost a close 3-1 decision Evan Kaeck of Wapakoneta.
“Kleff was the surprise of the tournament,” Bitsko stated. “He had some matches that he wasn’t expected to be competitive in that he ended up winning. We are kind of excited about where he is heading. We are hoping that he can build on this success and show us something at Top Gun.”
Freshman Austin Mullins placed 8th in the 145 pound weight class. He opened the tournament with a pin (3:18) against Carlos Quintero of Troy. Mullins scored a 22-9 major decision over Kade Wareham of Hilliard Bradley in the second round of the tournament and in the third round pinned Nolan McCune of West Clermont in 1:45.
Mullins suffered his first loss in the quarterfinals where he lost by a pin in overtime (6:20) to Ben Yost of Dublin Coffman. That kicked Mullins into the sixth consolation bracket where he scored an 8-7 decision over Kyler Pleasant of Sidney. In the consolation quarterfinal he lost a close 1-0 decision to Ryan Whitten of Stebbins. That put Mullins up against Marcus Zullo of Pickerington Central for seventh place where Zullo pulled out a 5-4 victory.
“To suffer loss in the quarterfinals was kind of tough,” Bitsko said. “He bounced back and won some big matches and that was what was important. He showed a lot of character in coming back when things hadn’t gone his way. He wrestled great. The kid from Stebbins was a real test for him. Whitten is a solid wrestler. Mullins is just a class act kid all the way around.”
Overall, Bitsko felt his team had an outstanding showing at the holiday tourney.
“The team performed well. There were a couple of match wins that we would like to have had, but we also had a couple of surprise wins that were kind of nice,” Bitsko added. “I think we are moving in the right direction as we head to Top Gun on January 13 in Alliance. We are wrestling in some of the toughest tournaments in the state right now and the kids are producing, which is always nice to see as a coach.”
Bitsko pointed out that most people forget how young his team was last year, which still holds true this year. The team only has three seniors in the lineup in Jon Hoover, Jordan Hardrick and Jared Kleff. The team was without Jaden Hardrick (160 pounds), who has been nursing an injury but is expected to return this weekend for the Troy Invitational.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind