The future of the Greater Western Ohio Conference cast a shadow over the wrestling championships that concluded Saturday. With the 20-team conference breaking up after this school year, the Springboro Panthers delivered the final takedown.
Springboro won the overall GWOC championship with a 4.5-point victory over runner-up Beavercreek at Vandalia’s Student Activity Center.
“We really wanted to win this tournament today to win it for the last time before it does break up. The kids talked about it all week,” Springboro coach Fred Boulton said.
Springboro’s team win was highlighted by individual championships from junior Mason Kleinberg at 138 pounds and junior Jacob Kowalski at 195. The Panthers placed in 11 of the 14 weight classes.
“It comes down to every match being important in a tournament,” Boulton said. “When you have a lot of good teams around, every single match is important. It comes down to pinning people.”
One of Springboro’s surprises came at 132. Freshman Colton Smith, wrestling in his first varsity tournament, won his first varsity match and placed sixth. He scored nine valuable points for the Panthers.
Beavercreek, which along with Centerville placed four wrestlers in the finals, received individual titles from junior Gavin Bell (152) and senior Bradley Smith (220). The Beavers had 11 wrestlers place but didn’t compete at 106 or 132.
“They wrestled hard. We could look back at a match here and a match there, but that’s sports,” said Beavercreek coach Gary Wise, who coached Boulton in freestyle years ago. “We both knew coming into today what we needed to do and who we expected to win.”
Centerville, which finished third with 176.5 points, scored a tournament-high four champions behind freshman Luke Acuna (113), freshman Damion Ryan (120), Logan Brown (132) and senior Drew Wiechers (160).
Butler, Greenville, Piqua, Tippecanoe, Troy, Fairborn, Sidney, Stebbins, West Carrollton and Xenia are leaving the GWOC after this school year to reform the Miami Valley League. Lebanon is leaving for the Eastern Cincinnati Conference and Trotwood-Madison was notified in December that its GWOC membership was ending.
The score was tied 1-1, both on allowed escapes, with 10 seconds left in the third period. Both were frantically grappling for control when Knick managed to score the takedown and two back points in the final seconds.
“I really don’t think it was an upset. I feel like I was underrated,” Knick said. “I feel like people are underestimating me so I just went out and wrestled my match.”
Mullins and Knick met earlier this season with Mullins claiming an 8-6 win.
“I knew it was going to be a tough one. He’s a great wrestler,” Knick said. “I grew up with him wrestling and we go back and forth. … We know each others technique and what each of us do, so it makes it more difficult.”