High School Wrestling: Springboro wins program’s first district team title

As wrestlers mingled around the Trent Arena floor waiting for their awards ceremony, Springboro coach Fred Boulton was shaking hands and receiving pats on the back. The Panthers’ Division I district wrestling team championship was a long time coming for the program.

In fact, it was the first in program history. Springboro had nine of its 13 district qualifiers place on Saturday for 136.5 points. That was enough to hold off Cincinnati LaSalle’s 124.5.

“Ten years ago, with this group of kids (did I see this coming)? No,” Boulton said. “But a year or two ago I thought it was a possibility.”

Saturday the Panthers made it a reality.

Springboro senior Jacob Kowalski beat Mason junior Owen Amburgy 3-2 to win the 195-pound weight class for the Panthers’ lone individual title. Senior Mason Kleinberg finished second at 138 and senior Tripp Johnson was third at 285. A senior and two freshmen placed fifth and a senior, sophomore and freshman placed sixth to help win the title.

Springboro finished 12th at the district meet last season.

“I’m really proud of this team,” Boulton said. “It’s been a total effort by a lot of coaches for a long time with this group of kids. It’s nice to finally see it pay off.”

As for Kowalski, Kleinberg and Johnson, their seasons continue next week at the D-I state wrestling tournament at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the team,” Kowalski said of the title. “We had a lot of good competition here. It’s awesome.”

Kowalski finished second in his weight class last season to eventual-state finalist Michael Baker from LaSalle. He battled Amburgy to a tough decision that improved his standing this time.

“It feels great coming back and being able to stand at the top of that podium,” said Kowalski, who improved to 41-1. “I’m going to get up on the board in our (wrestling room). It was great competition here and I wrestled tough.”

Also winning district titles were Centerville’s Damion Ryan (113), Butler’s Logan Hoskins (132), Wayne’s Austin Mullins (145), Northmont’s Andrew Knick (152), Fairmont’s Nevan Snodgrass (170), Beavercreek’s Gavin Bell (182), Lebanon’s Colton Quantz (220) and Wayne’s Jacob Padilla (285).

Centerville qualified five wrestlers to the state tournament, which could be a program high according to coach Alan Bair.

Lebanon advanced six and Beavercreek and Butler four each. Wayne (3), Fairmont (2) and Northmont (2) also qualified multiple wrestlers.

“My goal is to win it,” Knick said following his 7-3 decision over Butler’s Jestin Love at 152. “That’s been my goal all year and it’s going to stay my goal. … You either win or you lose. You’re the only one that determines the outcome. It’s all up to you.”

At the D-II district at Wilmington, Graham scored 242 points to claim the title with a 156.5-point victory over runner-up Licking Valley. The Falcons, in pursuit of their 20th straight state team title, won six individual state titles and advanced eight to the state tournament.

Chaminade Julienne led area teams with four state qualifiers, including runner-up finishes from Roman Jones (120) and Isaiah Wortham (132).

In the D-III tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena, Troy Christian held off Legacy Christian with a 170-148 victory. The Eagles, who qualified eight to state, received district titles from Ethan Turner (132) and Andrew Shaffer (152).

Legacy advanced five to state, including district champions Matt Ellis (113), Gavin Brown (138) and Nick Alvarez (145).

Miami East brothers Cooper Shore (106) and Max Shore (120) also won titles and advanced three. Versailles (4) and Covington (2) also qualified multiple wrestlers to Columbus.

The state tournament starts Friday and runs through Sunday, a change from previous years when it ran Thursday-Saturday.

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