Bath ready for big challenge at state

Mark Altstaetter

February 5, 2014

BATH TOWNSHIP – It was one of several goals that Bath set before the start of the 2013-14 wrestling season.

Making it to the dual team state tournament, in just the second year of existence for the tournament, was on the list of goals for the Wildcats.

After Bath finished second to Defiance at the Western Buckeye League Championships last Saturday, the Wildcats then turned their attention to the dual team state tournament, which is Saturday at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State.

The Wildcats won the Division III regional tournament Jan. 29 to qualify for the state tournament.

The format of the dual team state tournament consists of three divisions with eight teams competing in each division.

Bath, the No. 6 seed in Division III, will face No. 3 seed West Salem Northwestern in a quarterfinal at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

If Bath wins its quarterfinal match, it will then compete at 3:30 in a semifinal against the winner of the Columbus Bishop Hartley/Dayton Christian quarterfinal. The winner of the semifinal will compete for the Division III state title at 7:30 p.m.

The regular Ohio High School Athletic Association individual state tournament will be held Feb. 27, 28 and March 1 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.

“We definitely want to make some noise,” first-year Bath coach Joseph Fisher said. “The kids have to go down there and wrestle tough. Our goal was to make it to the team state tournament. So, everything besides that is icing on the cake.”

At the WBL tournament, Bath had two wrestlers notch titles. Colin Ingram won the title in the 120-pound weight class, pinning Defiance’s Ryan Lantow. Tre Wheeler decisioned Ricky Barajas, 8-1 in the title match at 132 for Bath.

Wheeler, a junior, did not wrestle last season. However, he won a WBL title his freshman season at 120.

“This has been a big week,” Wheeler said. “We’ve been working hard for this. Our team deserves to be at state. Not winning the WBL tournament, we’ll still be good. We’ll be back and stronger, next year.”

Wheeler said this year’s squad has bonded quite well.

“We’re a really tight group. We go everywhere together. I think that helps us grow as a team. My teammates keep pushing me every day in the (wrestling) room to get better. We have a big goal. …We want to win it (state title),” Wheeler said.

In the 220-pound weight class, sophomore Kyle Lhamon took third for Bath at Saturday’s WBL Championships.

“Even though it (dual team state tournament) has only been around for two years, for us to be the first (area) team to make it, feels pretty good,” Lhamon said. “Of course, we want to win it. But, basically we want to come out the best that we can and make sure we wrestle as hard as we possibly can.”

Junior Ryker Rabley (170), who finished fourth at the WBL tournament, looks for this weekend’s state tournament to bring the best out of his team.

“All these teams are going to be tough. So, we’ll have to step up the pace a little bit for what we did when we were at regionals,” he said.

Rabley pointed to team chemistry as the key to this season’s success.

“Our underclassmen work really hard in the room every day and the other guys on the team work just as hard. We all have the same goals. We talk about it every day in the room and we push each other.”