By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
It has already been an historic season for the La Salle High School wrestling program, and the Lancers apparently aren’t finished yet.
La Salle, which earlier this year defeated state power Lakewood St. Edward in a dual meet, won its first Greater Catholic League South Division championship since 1975 and then became the first school from Southwest Ohio to finish as runner-up in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Team Wrestling State Tournament (finishing just one point behind St. Edward for the title) held last month, was nothing short of dominant in Saturday’s OHSAA Division I District Championships at Trent Arena in Kettering.
The Lancers won eight individual district titles to finish with a tournament-best 273.5 points, while also qualifying 11 wrestlers for the OHSAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament to be held Friday through Sunday at the Jerome C. Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus. La Salle finished fourth at last year’s team state meet, while GCL South colleagues Elder and Moeller came in sixth and No. 12, respectively. Elder had one wrestler win a district title and three qualify for state, while Moeller’s Jordan Ward won the district crown at 132 pounds, defeating Casey Wiles of La Salle in overtime, to earn his way back to state.
La Salle wrestlers who won district titles were: Cole Skinner (106 pounds); Dustin Norris (113); Lucas Byrd (120): Antoine Allen (126); Jake Niffenegger (138); E’lan Heard (152); Trey Sizemore (182); and Michael Baker (195). Byrd, Baker and Sizemore have each won more than 100 matches in their varsity careers. Wiles, district runner-up at 132, Darnia Heard (third at 145) and Robert Baker (fourth at 285) also qualified for the state tournament.
Elder was one of three schools, joining Fairfield and West Clermont, sending more than one wrestler to state – with each qualifying three competitors. The Panthers, who came in fourth in the team standings at the district tournament, had Austin Belcher finish as runner-up at 182, Seth Lambers come in third at 152, and Jack Collins place fourth at 126 – earning berths to the state meet.