Boys Wrestling looked to continue this season like the last, with intensity and high expectations to go far in postseason. In addition, the team looked forward to improving individually, but also sharing the progress they made with each other.
“One of the things I was looking forward to this season was being able to spend time with the rest of the team and share everything that went on throughout it with them,” senior wrestler Ian Krider said.
The team kicked off their season at the beginning of December at the Upper Arlington Invitational. The team placed third and nine individuals placed in the top four, including seniors Ian Krider (145) and Cardan Mutai (220) placing second, and Tristian Bluntschly (195) placing first.
Less than a week later, the Pioneers wrestled in a dual meet against Upper Arlington at home. Ian Krider (145) won by decision, 8-3, in an exciting match, earning multiple points in the last twenty second at the end of the third period. Both sophomore Connor Savatner (152) and Bluntschly (195) won by pin in the first period.
Boys wrestling competed in the Medina Invitational on December 27 and 28. After the first day Orange sat at 19th out of 44 teams with six athletes winning their second round matches. On the second day sophomore Keegan Knapp (132) pinned state placer Gavin Ramos to make the semifinals. Knapp placed third and Bluntschley (195) placed eighth, with the team finished with 71 points and 24th out of 44 teams.
“The atmosphere is always intense during matches and take them seriously because we all know that we only get so many. It’s the same during practices because we all have goals that we know we have to work to achieve,” senior wrestler Jack Almond said.
On January 4, the team hosted the Pioneer Classic. The boys took first with 226 points, over 100 points higher than the second place team. Orange had four pins by Zack Miller (138), Krider (145), Bluntschly (195), and Connor Kemmerling (HWT).
In the middle of January, the team competed at the Maumee Bay Classic. After the first round six people advanced Knapp (132), Krider (145), and Bluntschly (195) made it to the blood round. A couple days later, Boys Wrestling competed against OCC opponent Westerville Central and won 47-21. Orange won ten of the 14 matches, with four pins by Knapp (138), Jack Almond (160), Dempsey (182), and Issac Campbell (HWT). Will Ramey (126) earned thirteen points in a great third period performance, to win by decision, 20-19. While, Krider’s big throw at the end pulled off a win by decision, 6-3, over a ranked opponent.
“One thing I try to do in practice is wrestle different people everyday. It’s always good to practice against different looks because you don’t know what kind of wrestler your next match will be,” Almond said.
On January 30, Boys and Girls Wrestling competed with Gymnastics in Beauty and the Beast and it was senior night, celebrating Jack Almond, Tristian Bluntschly, Cole Benjamin, Ian Krider, Alex Lopez, Cardan Mutai, Nick Schoenleb, and Josh Young. The team took on Westerville South and won 52-18, winning ten matches. Krider won by tech fall, 20-4, while Knapp and Luke Behre (113) both won by pin.
In the last tournament of the season, the Jerome Invitational, eight Orange wrestlers placed in the top six. Mutai (220) placed sixth, Idell Fergueson (106), Miller (138), and Geoffrey Kaminski (195) placed fifth, Dempsey (185) placed third, Bluntschly (170) placed second, and Knapp (132) placed first and was the All-North Campion.
Over the weekend of February 28 and 29, the team competed at sectionals at Upper Arlington. Eight wrestlers qualified for districts, and the team placed second with 174 points. Knapp (132), Bluntschley (170), Dempsey (182), and Kaminski (195) all placed second at sectionals to qualify for districts. Mutai (220) placed third at sectionals to qualify for districts. As well as, Krider (145) and Savanter (152) placed fourth at sectionals to qualify for districts.
The first weekend of March, eight Orange wrestlers competed at districts and placed 16th with 37 points. Geoffry Kaminski (195) placed sixth in his first trip to districts, Triston Bluntschly (170) placed sixth for the second time in his three trips to districts, and Keegan Knapp (132) earned the state alternate spot with a 30+ win season.
“I am proud of myself for sticking with this sport through all the lows and being able to push through it and become a stronger individual,” Krider said.