MT. ORAB – For the first time in school history, the Western Brown Broncos’ wrestling team is headed to the state quarterfinals.
The Broncos dispatched New Richmond and Washington Courthouse in relatively easy fashion Wednesday night in the regional tournament.
Western Brown started the night against New Richmond. After three quick pins, the Broncos found themselves ahead 18-0. That jumped to 24-0 after Jordan Hamblin earned a victory over Brandon Planck via a medical default.
Jacob Haggerty won a 12-7 decision over Lane Dees to increase the Broncos’ lead to 27-0 before New Richmond finally got on the board when Ryan Wolf won a 4-2 decision over Derek Spears.
The Broncos got back on track with four straight pins. Steven Grooms, Jake Henderson, Malachi Marlow and Eric Altman all pinned their opponents, giving Western Brown a 51-3 lead and putting the match well out of reach for the Lions.
One mat over, it took every weight class for Washington Court House to pull out a victory over Miami Trace. Ahead by four points with the 285-pound class remaining, Trevor hicks pinned Collin Wolffe to seal the victory for the Blue Lions.
That set up what, at the time, shaped up to be a competitive regional final. Western Brown did their best to make sure it was exactly the opposite, winning the first nine weight classes and jumping out to a 48-0 lead. When the dust settled, the Broncos won the dual 54-20 and punched their ticket to St. John Arena in Columbus.
Head coach Wendell Donathan said it was exciting and credited the wrestlers and coaches for the amount of time that it took to get the team where it is today.
“Honestly, it’s exciting,” Donathan said. “It’s awesome. It’s a credit for the amount of time, I’d say that I don’t know if people know how much time a lot of our kids put in in the off-season and it’s nice to see the rewards for what they do. You tell kids to keep working hard, you’ll get rewarded. We finally got our reward.”
The reward is that the Broncos are now one of eight remaining teams in Division II. While their opponent for the quarterfinal match is not yet known, one familiar face will be joining Western Brown in the bracket: Ross.
The Rams knocked off the Broncos in the regional tournament last season, ending Western Brown’s run. With a 36-35 victory over Eaton, Ross returns to the state tournament in 2016.
Donathan said the loss to the Rams may have hit him harder than the wrestlers, but the team was able to use that defeat for motivation this season.
“Every one of these kids that were here, most of them anyway, were in that dual,” Donathan said. “They knew. Every one of them knew. I think I took it harder than they did, I don’t think they realized the impact of what could have transpired. They knew, and I don’t think they were ready to bow out in the first round. We were up 48-0 before that first loss, and that’s pretty awesome.’
Don’t expect the Broncos to revel in their victory for too long, however. Donathan said the team has to refocus quickly.
“We’ve got to put this aside, we’ve got league on Saturday,” Donathan said. “It’s right there. We’ll worry about this stuff next week.”
The team travels to Batavia High School for the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference meet this Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. Western Brown’s state quarterfinal match will take place next Sunday, Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. or 1:15 p.m., depending on the team’s placement in the bracket.