By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Elder wrapped up a strong weekend of wrestling for the Greater Catholic League South Division by finishing third in the final team standings of the prestigious Southwest Ohio Wrestling Coaches Association (SWOWCA) Coaches Classic that concluded Sunday at the Harrison High School Activity Center. The Panthers finished with 168.4 points, trailing only host and winner Harrison (199) and Fairfield (198.5) – which held the lead heading into Sunday’s semifinals and finals.
The Panthers were the two-time defending champions.
La Salle also had a big weekend on the mats, defeating four-time defending Ohio Division I state champion Lakewood St. Edward, 35-27, in a dual match Saturday afternoon at La Salle. The Lancers were ranked No. 4 in USA Today’s Super 25 preseason rankings, followed by St. Edward at No. 5. St. Edward has been a dominant program at the state level, winning 32 big-school state titles in its history.
Bartley Thomas of Elder captured the Panthers’ lone championship at the Coaches Classic, posting a major decision over Alex Epstein of Lakota East in the finals at 138 pounds. In the process, Thomas became the first freshman in the Panthers’ wrestling history to win a title at the Coaches Classic. Two other Elder wrestlers advanced to the finals, juniors William Doepker at 113 and Seth Lammers at 152. Doepker lost to Brendan Pye of Scott, 5-4, in his final match, while Lammers was beaten by undefeated Amar Thomas of Fairfield, 9-4, in his title match. Pye was a Kentucky state runner-up at 113 this past season.