There probably never will be a truly dominant baseball team, but when Graham High School put twelve wrestlers into the finals at the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament at Vandalia’s Student Activities Center on Saturday night and ten of them won? They were a truly dominant wrestling team.
No other word seems to do the Falcon's efforts justice.
This team from a tiny high school in rural Champaign County scored a tournament record 404.5 points. Second place–big school winner, Miamisburg–was a full 238.5 points back and they were happy to be there.
It was Graham’s fourth consecutive Holiday Tournament championship. Their head wrestling coach, Jeff Jordan, wrote the book on dominance.
His 2007 edition of the Falcons is the number one ranked high school wrestling team in the country. He personally has won a state individual title four times, losing only one match while winning 159 (!) in the process. His brother Jim (150-1), now a U.S. Congressman out of Urbana, won four times as well. His nephew, Ben (Jim’s son), is working on state title number three.
They are legendary. Winning is what they expect and winning is what they do.
“I thought we wrestled a good tournament,” Jordan said. “We got healed up over the holidays and we won some good matches. We had one guy who had a broken hand and we had another that had his knee operated on. Other than that it has been just general bumps and bruises.
“The holidays were good to us and we are almost full-strength. I still have one guy out but other than that I am happy. We had twelve guys in the final. What can you say?”
On Saturday night, Jordan set up camp in the middle of the gym. That’s where the championship matches were to be settled; and while the other coach’s seat was a revolving door Graham was in virtually every match. So, there he sat surrounded by what would turn out to be ten champions and watched his team dominate.
It was almost funny. Observers had to pinch themselves to be reminded that year after year this is a very competitive tournament, the premier in-season wresting event in the southwestern region.
Setting the tone for the evening, Graham’s Nick Brascetta scored a major decision against Matt Terry (Butler) in the 103-lb. final, 16-6.
David Taylor (Graham) pinned Tyler Riegle (Springboro) in just 1:22 to win at 112.
Zach Neibert (Graham) secured another title for the Falcons in the 119-lb. class by beating precocious freshman, Cody Shivener (Springboro), 20-8, in a major decision.
Potentially the butt of jokes on the long bus ride home to St. Paris if he lost, Tucker Armstrong (Graham) prevailed in the 125-lb. class with an overtime decision over Tim Silvers (Eaton), 6-4.
Another freshman, Brian Stephens (Graham, the 2006 Ohio junior high school champion), won the 130-lb. final over Jesse Myers (Butler) by default. Stephens didn’t benefit from an easy draw though as he had beaten the top seed, Bryan Peace of Ryle High School (Ky.), in the second round.
Daniel Kolodzik (Miami Valley) won the 135-lb. class with a 5-3 decision over Ryan Gambill (Miami East). Afterwards, the Coach’s association named him the outstanding wrestler of the meet in the small school division.
The 140-lb. champion was Matt Stephens from (here’s a shock for you) Graham. He scored a major decision over Tyler Gombash (Delta), 15-6. Meanwhile, his team’s score was approaching 400 on the big board.
Aware of what holidays must be like when his father and uncle discuss the good old days, an alert Ben Jordan (Graham) scored a technical fall in the 145-lb. final over Daniel Klontz (Springfield North), 20-4. Just two state championships isn’t going to get it next Thanksgiving. He needs to work on his resume and he knows it.
Ben got off to a good start in that regard when he followed in his father and uncle’s footsteps by accepting a full-ride to wrestle next year at Wisconsin.
“Tonight felt good because I hadn’t wrestled in a while,” a still out of breath Jordan said moments after his final. “We’ve been on a break sort of over Christmas, but soon we will have dual meets against three different state champion teams. Then we have the state dual meet championship ahead of us. After that we have the Top Gun tournament up in Alliance (Ohio).
“With all of that competition coming up we have a lot of work to do.”
Coby Boyd (Graham) pinned Brett Ewing (Miamisburg) in 4:21 to win at 152 lbs. He had five pins in 11:58 during the meet, terrorizing the rest of his competitors and winning the ‘most pins in the least amount of time’ trophy by an amazing seven minutes.
Perhaps feeling left out, James Mannier (Graham) won the 160-lb. class with a 6-2 decision over Kyle Kwiat (Tiffin Calvert).
The winner at 171 lbs. was Zac Thomusseit (Graham), who scored a thrilling 3-1 overtime win over Derrick Yant (Delta).
Second-seeded Casey Newburg (Northmont) decisioned Max Thomusseit (Graham), 7-3, in the 189-lb. class to break another Graham winning streak. He was named the outstanding wrestler (big school) for his efforts in the tournament by the Coach’s association.
“I was being careful in the third period because I didn’t want to give up any easy points,” Newburg laughed. “If you are going to score on me you are going to have to earn it. I think that I wrestled smart. I wrestled my match. I tried to stay on my feat.”
Defending 215-lb. champion, Zach Pummill (Valley View), decisioned Oney Snyder (Hillsboro), 3-1.
Matt Prichard (Northmont), Newburg’s training partner, decisioned Adam Walls (Graham) 4-2 in overtime to win the 285-lb. championship. It was perhaps the most exciting match of the final round. He lost to Walls at last year’s Holiday Tournament so the win was sweet revenge.
The loudest ovation of the night was when Prichard won. The psyched-up soul of the T-Bolt line during the football season, stomped around the exterior of the ring afterwards in sheer triumph.
“I wanted to beat him (Walls) badly because he beat me last year, 9-2,” Prichard said. “I didn’t want to give up this time so I kept going at it and I got the win. He took a shot, but I knew it was coming. I just backed off it and got behind him really quick. I ground him down.
“Right now I have just one goal and that is to win the state championship. Everything else is going to have to serve that end.”
Prichard is weighing his options concerning next year, although he sees himself as a football player rather than a wrestler. Several of the schools that are showing interest play scholarship football in NCAA Division II.
Yet, persistent rumors hint at something more.
Although the overall team title was never seriously in question, the big school division was an entirely different story. Miamisburg won the large-school title with 166 points. Ryle (150) and Northmont (137.5) were close behind. Butler, the host team, finished in fourth (127.5).
The closeness of that scoring should make wrestling junkies smile. On February 9, Miamisburg and Northmont will clash in a dual meet that just might decide who the best big school wrestling program is in the southwest region.
Delta (154) finished second in the small school division.