PIQUA – In a dual that could have gone either way, the Piqua Indians came up just short to Covington 45-34 in a great environment for wrestling at the historic Roosevelt Field House in Piqua.
The dual went down to the wire, much different than a year ago in Covington’s home gym.
“We wrestled Covington at their 50th anniversary a year ago and they beat us 57-15,” said Piqua coach Hunter Bryant. “That was probably one of my low points as a coach.”
Tuesday the Indians battled to the end and showed the grit and determination of a program on the rise.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my kids tonight,” Bryant continued. “They went out there and battled – they all did. Covington has been one of the top teams around forever. This was a good match for both teams.”
Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst felt the stiff competition Piqua presented and the atmosphere was a great experience for the Buccaneers.
“It was a great atmosphere and it was a good match between two good teams.,” Vanderhorst said.
Mason Epperson (157) got things started for the Buccs with a pin over Elijah Watkins. That and a forfeit received by Aaron Jackson (165) gave Covington a 12-0 lead.
Piqua came storming back to take a 21-12 lead with an 8-7 back-and-forth victory by Connor Glenn over Aiden Collins (175), and consecutive pins by Bracket Osborne over A.J. Garman (190), Landen Martin over Zeb Woodward-Roeth (215) and former Buccaneer, Hayden Barker over A.J. Reyes (285).
“They had the momentum and I said, ‘It is time for us to change the momentum’,” Vanderhorst explained. “Our lightweights are definitely our strength. We had some young kids wrestling and they did a good job.”
The teams split the next two matches as Covington’s Carson Taylor (106) pinned Averi Wiley, and Piqua’s Logan Wells pinned Brian Morrison (113). Piqua led at this point, 27-18.
The performance by Avery Wiley, even in defeat, was one that stood out for Bryant in regards to toughness.
“Averi (Wiley) was wrestling one of the top guys at 106 (Carson Taylor) and she went out there and battled him,” Bryant praised. “All of the kids battled.”
Covington took back the lead, 36-27, with a 12-4 major decision by Michael Hagan (120) over Nikolai Kaye, a pin by Jericho Quinter (126) over Brady Mikolajewski, and a pin by Chase Vanderhorst (132) over Gavin Nelson, before Piqua cut the Buccs’ lead, 36-34, with a Max Kaye pin over Tyler Basye (138).
Caleb Ryman (144) and Aveyen Meek (150) then sealed the victory for the Buccs with consecutive victories over Jackson Lambert by pin, and James Hess by 20-4 technical fall.
In JV action, Piqua’s Alex Holt won by pin over Lane Jay (138), before later losing by pin to Covington’s Elijah Carnes (144).