HEATH, Ohio — Quite frankly, it just wouldn’t be an Ohio state wrestling meet without at least one Blue Devil.
That’s because, for the eighth consecutive year, a member of the Gallia Academy High School wrestling squad has qualified for the coveted Division II state tournament.
This year, it is senior Kaleb Crisenbery in the 145-pound weight class, as he punched his ticket by placing third in Saturday’s district meet at Heath High School.
Crisenbery, a three-time district meet qualifier, finished 5-1 at this year’s competition — capped off by a narrow 3-2 decision over Sheridan’s Lane Householder in the 145-pound third-place match.
The top four placers in each weight class at the district meet qualify for the state meet.
Crisenbery paced the Blue Devils, which tallied 48.5 points as a team to place 11th out of the 41 clubs which scored at least three points.
Two other Blue Devils are actually alternates to the state meet — senior Jared Stevens in the 120-pound weight class and junior Kyle Greenlee in the 113-pound group.
Stevens finished 4-2 and Greenlee at 3-2, as both finished fifth in their weight classes to become first alternates at state.
One or both will get the call to compete this coming weekend — should any of the four state qualifiers from those two lightweight divisions at Heath be unable to wrestle.
Stevens, who qualified for the district meet all four years at Gallia Academy, was actually a state competitor in the 106-pound class as a freshman.
With Crisenbery capturing a win in his first match on Saturday, he joined Stevens as the first pair of Gallia Academy teammates with at least 150 career victories.
Along with Crisenbery and Greenlee, senior Hunter Jacks was making his third district appearance — wrestling at 170 pounds.
Making his district debut was senior Chris Matthew at 160, who finished fifth at the sectional meet and was originally an alternate.
Matthew, unfortunately, lost both of his matches at the district — getting pinned in a minute and three seconds in the opening round and being shut out with a 16-0 technical fall in the first consolation.
But Crisenbery carried the Blue and White’s day — or rather weekend.
He opened his competition with a 2-1 decision over Greg Perez of Caledonia River Valley, then lost his quarterfinal tilt by a 6-4 decision to Miles Mazik of Indian Creek.
Crisenbery then worked his way back through the consolation bracket — pinning Colt Hanson of Morgan in 2:36, defeating Jared Wright of Lisbon Beaver by a 13-3 major decision, and decisioning Briar Cadle of Claymont 3-0.
His triumph over Cadle in the consolation semifinals set up the third-place match against Householder, of which he won his third match of the meet by decision.
Crisenbery will now take a 51-6 season record into the state meet.
Stevens clinched his alternate spot by prevailing by a 7-2 decision in the fifth-place match, defeating senior Domenic Carfagna of Columbus DeSales.
With a 46-5 record this year, Stevens — should his stellar GAHS career be complete — has 176 career wins.
Like Crisenbery and Stevens, Greenlee gained his placement-match victory with a decision.
He decisioned Abe Frizzell of Meadowbrook 10-4 in the fifth-place bout, raising his season record to 47-8.
Stevens and Greenlee both won their first-round affairs by pinfall, as Greenlee won his quarterfinal match with a pin — before losing in the semifinals and consolation semifinals.
Stevens lost a razor-thin 2-0 quarterfinal match, but bounced back to pin Clay Pidgeon of Carrollton in the first period of the second consolation.
He then decisioned Alex Lucas of Minerva 5-1 in the third consolation, but fell 6-3 to Jacob Johnson of Jonathan Alder in the consolation semifinals.
Jacks went 2-2, concluding his career with 130 victories.
His 129th win was a dominant 20-4 technical-fall triumph in the opening round — over Travis Johnson of Morgan.
In the second consolation, he blanked Keith Bodnar of Steubenville with a 12-0 major decision.
Also ending his career at the district was Meigs senior Trae Hood, who was a repeat qualifier in the 220-pound weight class.
Hood lost a 5-2 decision to Scott Harry of Morgan in the opening round, then was pinned in only 34 seconds by Nick Kurek of Granville in the second consolation.
His only victory — in the first consolation — was over Gage Swartz of Philo by injury default.
Crisenbery competes in the Division II state meet starting Thursday, which will be held inside Value City Arena in Columbus.
The Division II first round is set to begin at 4:10 p.m.
Crisenbery is attempting to join Jeptha Robinson (1988), Jared Gravely (2010), Brandon Taylor (2012), Zack Tackett (2012) and Cole Tawney (2013 and 2014) as the only podium finishers in Blue Devil history.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106