COVINGTON – When people see a young athlete accomplishing something at a high level, many assume he or she is blessed with natural gifts to where their path to success was easier than those who come up short.
That’s not the case for any of the five Buccaneer wrestlers who qualified for the state wrestling meet by finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes at the district meet this past weekend.
Each of the five wrestlers have unique stories of their own – stories of overcoming adversity that was out of their control.
First, nothing came easy for Buccaneer 106 pound sophomore Carson Taylor, who qualified for state by taking fourth at districts. Taylor entered high school last season as a freshman weighing around 98 pounds, well under the 106-pound limit. He competed at an extremely high level, finishing with a 34-5 record, despite giving up a significant weight advantage.
And Taylor was behind teammate Michael Hagan, who was also at 106 pounds and eventually placed 8th at state – so Taylor was forced to wrestle at 113 pounds in the post-season tournament after fellow teammate Jericho Quinter suffered a season-ending injury.
At sectionals in 2021, Taylor entered the tournament unseeded and surrendering nearly 15 pounds to his opponents – yet he finished third in a very tough weight class to qualify for districts. He won a match at districts, but his weight disadvantage eventually caught up to him as the competition level increased.
Throughout the off-season, Taylor worked on his craft as his body grew into a natural 106-pound wrestler when his sophomore season began. Taylor thrived, winning the Dayton Christian Invitational, the Jimmy Mac Invitational at Bellefontaine and the Versailles Invitational, and taking runner-up in the prestigious GMVWA Holiday Tournament, the Troy Invitational and the TRC Championships. He also placed fifth at the LCC Invitational.
Taylor entered the sectional tournament with a 34-5 record and finished runner-up to qualify for districts, where he won his first two matches and a consolation semifinal match to secure a spot at state.
The Buccaneer sophomore enters state with a 39-8 record.
Jericho Quinter’s story is one of heartbreak and triumph as he was on a roll throughout the regular season his freshman year in 2021. Quinter was dominant, winning 37 of the 40 matches he wrestled heading into sectionals.
Unfortunately, the week of sectionals Jericho seriously hurt his back – an injury that ended his season – a season that likely would have ended at state and possibly with a medal around his neck.
The injury was so severe that Quinter also missed his sophomore season of football, a season where he would have been a key contributor on both sides of the football for the Buccs.
Yet, the Buccaneer sophomore found a way to overcome through hard work and perseverance, even though he was forced to sit out some key tournaments throughout in the year. Still, Quinter entered the sectional tournament fielding a 25-4 record and breezed to a sectional title with dominating wins.
At districts, Quinter dropped just one match by a close margin in the semifinal and finished third at 113 pounds to qualify for state.
Michael Hagan’s story is one of hard work paying off and adding to a family legacy in the sport of wrestling. Last year as a 106-pound freshman Michael joined his father, Mike, as the fifth father-son combination in school history to become state qualifiers and also joined his brother Daniel Jennings as the fourth brother combination to qualify for state.
Hagan had a historic run as he finished 43-5 on the season and placed 8th at state to become just the fourth freshman in school history to earn a state medal.
This season Hagan outgrew the 106-pound weight class and moved up 14 pounds higher to 120, which presented an entirely different challenge for the Buccaneer sophomore. Still, Hagan thrived as he finished first at the Dayton Christian Invitational, the Jimmy Mac Invitational at Bellefontaine, the Versailles Invitational and the Troy Invitational. He placed third at the LCC Invitational and fourth at the GMVWA Holiday Tournament.
In all, Hagan finished with a 34-3 record in the regular season and carried the momentum through the sectional and district tournaments – where we won sectionals and suffered his only loss at districts to a returning state champion who is nationally ranked.
Hagen qualified for state for the second year in a row by finishing third and enters the state meet with a record of 40-4.
Sophomore 126 pounder Chase Vanderhorst is yet another story of overcoming extreme adversity, much like teammate Jericho Quinter.
Chase was highly ranked heading into his freshman season, but a devastating injury suffered in football took away his entire freshman season in wrestling – plus his sophomore year of football. It was extremely unfortunate because – if healthy – Chase had what it took to place at state as a freshman and also would have had a huge impact on the football field.
Yet, Vanderhorst rehabbed his injury and worked his rear end off to get back to the mat for his sophomore season, which he was able to accomplish despite missing several big tournaments throughout in the year – tournaments that prepare wrestlers for a run at state.
Still, Chase entered the sectional tournament with a 23-2 record and his only defeat in the post season came in the district final against returning state champion Max Shore of Miami East.
Vanderhorst enters the state tournament with a 28-3 record where he looks to carry on the family tradition of success at state. His uncle Craig was a two-time state placer and his older brother Cael was a four-time state qualifier and three-time placer with one opportunity taken away due the cancellation of the state tournament during the Covid pandemic. Chase is also the fifth wrestler in the Vanderhorst family to qualify for state – joining his father Eric, brother Cael, and uncles Craig and Todd.
The final story of a Buccaneer wrestler who qualified for state is that of senior 285 pounder Scott Blumenstock, which is a true story of inspiration.
Nothing ever came easy for Blumenstock – going way back nearly a decade when he was in pee wee football where this year’s junior and senior classes were third and fourth graders.
There was a game at Smith Field on a bright sunny day where Covington had a comfortable lead into the fourth quarter and to the end of the game. Throughout the contest a youngster followed the coaches up and down the sideline begging to get into the game. As the game wound down, the youngster eventually stood all by himself on one end of the sideline with tears in his eyes. The broken look on his face was so heartbreaking to where it seemed very important to ask his name.
That youngster was Scott Blumenstock.
What’s ironic is that pee wee football team at the time was loaded with athletes and had good numbers – almost enough for two teams. Eight years later in their senior year of football, there were just six seniors and five juniors on the high school roster. Scott Blumenstock wasn’t one of them, which is a shame because he is a big, coachable kid who likely would have helped the team and would have benefitted from football himself.
Instead, Blumenstock gravitated to the sport of wrestling – a one-on-one sport where HE controlled his destiny.
And boy, Scott Blumenstock made things happen for himself through hard work and perseverance. This past weekend he became just the second heavyweight in school history to qualify for state by taking fourth at the district meet. A week earlier he became the first heavyweight wrestler in the history of the program to become a three-time district qualifier.
It wasn’t easy as Blumenstock went through a rough phase to where be ballooned up to 330 pounds as a freshman. In order to be eligible to wrestle, he had to get his weight at or below 285 pounds.
He worked his tail off by doing the offseason training implemented by Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. Eventually Blumenstock made the maximum weight for a heavyweight (285) midway through his freshman year, but he didn’t stop there. In all, Scott lost close to 100 pounds as he tips the scale around 240 pounds.
In the process, Blumenstock qualified for districts for the first time in 2020 as a sophomore by finishing fourth. He then made a return trip to districts in 2021 as a junior after upsetting a higher seeded wrestler in his go-to-district match.
Looking to make school history his senior year, Scott continued to grind in the wrestling room throughout the off-seasons and began his senior year with impressive showings. He took runner-up at the Dayton Christian Invitational, runner-up at the Jimmy Mac Invitational in Bellefontaine and runner-up at an extremely tough Versailles Invitational.
Blumenstock was hoping to make a huge impression at the GMVWA Holiday Tournament over the Christmas break, but never competed in the tournament because his father, Brian, fell ill and passed away on December 29th at the age of 57.
His father’s passing gave Scott more motivation to excel on the mat and he gained momentum by taking third at the Troy Invitational and runner-up at the Three Rivers Conference Championships.
At sectionals, Blumenstock reached the semifinals, but fell into the consolation bracket with a loss to #2 seed Jeremiah Carter of Northridge. Needing to win his next match to qualify for districts for the third time, Blumenstock gutted out a 4-2 decision win over #5 seed James Baker of National Trail.
Then, this past weekend in the district meet at Hobart Arena in Troy, Blumenstock took the longest and most difficult path to state as he dropped his opening match to the top seeded wrestler in Ohio, unbeaten Eli Criblez of Allen East.
Undeterred, Blumenstock battled through the blood rounds where the stakes of every match is win or go home. He pinned Legacy Christian’s Matthew Smith in 2:17 and then won a 4-3 overtime match against Logan Johnson of Spencerville.
His next match was against a wrestler who was highly favored in the Reading sectional champion, Patton Johnson of Reading. Blumenstock pulled off a major upset by pinning Johnson 59 seconds into the second period to set up a go-to-state match against the sectional champion out of the Covington sectional (where Blumenstock finished fourth), Austin Skinner of Middletown Madison.
The only break Blumenstock received throughout his entire athletic career materialized as Skinner was forced to injury default the match due to a knee injury he suffered a match earlier. This ensured Blumenstock a birth at state, an accomplishment above and beyond the expectations of anyone other than maybe Scott and his coaches, Eric Vanderhorst and Lance Miller.
Granted, Covington wrestling isn’t known for having heavyweight wrestlers excel at the state level in its 50 year history. The only heavyweight from Covington to qualify for state prior to Blumenstock was Dusty Hess is 2003.
Which makes what Scott Blumenstock has accomplished that much more special, especially for a young man who has had to overcome everything he has had to face in his young life.
It’s no secret that the odds of Blumenstock getting on the podium at state are not in a betting man’s favor. But if history is telling, don’t count him out – because Scott Blumenstock won’t be standing on the sideline.