UHRICHSVILLE, Ohio — Once again, Gallia Academy is going to be represented at “The Schott”.
That’s because Blue Devil wrestling senior Justin Reynolds, by finishing fourth in the Division II district meet on Saturday at Claymont High School, has qualified for this week’s state wrestling tournament.
Reynolds represents the Blue Devil program for the fourth year in a row in the state, and was the only GAHS grappler of eight at the district meet to advance.
It is his first, and only, state qualification — as he cracked the top four in the district meet to automatically move on.
His season record stands at 47-9.
Reynolds wrestles in the 182-pound weight class, and will be joined at the state meet by Jackson junior Billy Cooper, who edged him on a 3-2 decision in the third-place match.
The top two 182-pounders from Saturday’s district meet featured Jud Ramage of Meadowbrook pinning Mathieu Holt of Granville in only 44 seconds for the championship.
As a team, the Blue Devils finished ninth with 63.5 points, as host Claymont clipped Steubenville for the team championship by a mere two-and-a-half points (168.5 to 165).
In all, half of the Blue Devils’ eight wrestlers placed in the top six, as junior Jared Stevens — by finishing fifth in the 113-pound weight class — is actually a state alternate.
Hunter Jacks — at 160 pounds — placed sixth, while senior Anthony Sipple did the same at 195.
However, only Reynolds returns to next week’s state competition, which begins on Thursday inside Value City Arena in Columbus.
Perhaps most impressive was his battling back all the way through the consolation bracket, following Friday’s first-round loss to Holt.
Reynolds lost that match in a 9-2 decision, meaning one more defeat before the consolation semifinals and he would not have placed.
In the first consolation, Reynolds pinned Andrew Hammon of Lakewood in two minutes and 47 seconds, before decisioning Blake Bollon of New Philadelphia 5-2 in the second consolation.
Reynolds then won an 8-3 decision over Sam Allen of New Lexington in the third consolation.
He then captured the consolation semifinal to officially punch his ticket to the state meet, pinning Garrett Robinson of Licking Valley in four minutes and 32 seconds.
Wrestling Jackson’s Cooper for the fourth time this year, Reynolds narrowly lost to Cooper for the third time — all by decisions.
In fact, the first three contests against Cooper were all 5-2 decisions and all for the 182-pound championship, as Reynolds won the host Coaches’ Corner Invitational on Dec. 29.
Cooper claimed the matches at the Vinton County Invitational 10 days earlier (Dec. 19), and at the Division II sectional meet 10 days ago.
For Stevens, he finished 46-5 this season, and earned the 113-pound fifth-place by pinning Jacob Williams of Columbus Hartley in 3:25.
He opened his competition by pinning Ray Huber of Lakewood in a minute-and-a-half, then needed exactly 18 fewer seconds to pin Brady O’Connor of Indian Valley in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Stevens then dropped into the consolation bracket after losing a 14-3 major decision in the semifinal, but also lost the consolation semifinal by a 4-2 decision to Alex Lucas of Minerva.
Jacks at 160 and Sipple at 195 also lost in the consolation semis, then lost their fifth-place bouts.
It was the final GAHS match for Sipple, who finished his senior season at 42-13 — after going an even 3-3 at the district.
Stevens, Sipple and senior Ryan Terry all won their 100th career matches this season, including Sipple and Terry, who did so in the Ohio Valley Conference triangular meet on Senior Night.
Jacks, a junior, also went 3-3 at the district meet.
The other four Blue Devil district qualifiers — Terry at 170, Caleb Greenlee at 106, Kyle Greenlee at 120 and Kaleb Crisenbery at 145 — did not place.
Terry, Crisenbery and Caleb Greenlee were all sectional champions, while Kyle Greenlee was the sectional runner-up.
Meigs had two district qualifiers in junior Trae Hood and senior Gino Casci, but neither placed in the 220-pound and 285-pound weight classes respectively.
River Valley wrestled at the Division III district meet at Heath High School, and freshman Jacob Edwards — at 113 pounds — finished fifth.
Edwards is an alternate to the state meet, having secured a 7-5 decision over Andrew Halko of Columbus Ready in the fifth-place match.
Edwards opened his competition by blanking Halko with a 13-0 major decision, but was pinned in the quarterfinal by Shadyside’s Greg Quinn.
After falling to the consolation bracket, he pinned Joey Buckland of West Jefferson in three-and-a-half minutes in the second consolation, then decisioned Levi Pemberton of Caldwell 9-5 in the third.
Nelsonville-York’s Cody Welch won the consolation semifinal against Edwards, shutting him out 5-0.
Edwards, the Division III sectional runner-up at 113, ended his year at 35-7.
The other three Raiders which wrestled at the district were senior George Williams at 145, freshman Eric Weber at 170, and sophomore Jeremiah Dobbins at 132.
None of those three placed, as Williams was the sectional runner-up.
Reynolds will wrestle on Thursday at 4:10 p.m., as part of the Division II opening round.
If he wins his first match, he returns to action on Friday in the quarterfinals, but will wrestle in Thursday night’s first consolation should he lose.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106