ALBANY, Ohio — Consider it a “Sweet 16” for wrestling in the Ohio Valley.
More specifically, wrestling in the Buckeye State.
That’s because, from Friday and Saturday’s Southeastern Ohio sectional wrestling meets at Alexander High School, there are 16 district qualifiers representing three Ohio area schools in two divisions.
Gallia Academy — in Division II — advanced eight grapplers to this weekend’s district meet, while River Valley — competing in Division III — is sending six competitors to the district.
Meigs, meanwhile, in Division II, qualified two wrestlers to the district round — junior Trae Hood in the 220-pound weight class and senior Gino Casci in the heavyweight division.
Eastern — in its first full season of wrestling — competed in the Division III sectional, but did not have any individuals advance to the district.
Gallia Academy almost won the team sectional championship, finishing three points behind powerhouse New Lexington for the title.
The Blue Devils amassed 234.5 points, compared to 237.5 for New Lexington.
Of the Blue Devils’ eight district qualifiers, half were sectional champions in their weight classes — while the other half were weight-class runners-up.
New Lexington landed championships in three weight classes — at 120 pounds, at 220 pounds and at heavyweight.
Athens earned sectional titles at 126 and 138, while Sheridan did the same at 152 and 195.
Fairfield Union amounted 155.5 points to finish third, while Sheridan was fourth at 148.5.
Athens was fifth at 127, while Warren was sixth at 96, Vinton County seventh at 93, and Jackson eighth at 86.
A total of 12 teams scored points, including 11th-place Meigs with 48.
For the Blue Devils, sophomore Caleb Greenlee at 106, junior Jared Stevens at 113, junior Kaleb Crisenbery at 145, and senior Ryan Terry at 170 all won sectional championships.
Greenlee pinned Elijah Ross of Warren in 91 seconds in the 106 finals, while Crisenbery needed only 28 seconds to pin Kevin Beal of Fairfield Union in the finals at 145.
Terry took five minutes and nine seconds to pin Tanner Tritipo of Athens for the 170 title, while Stevens shut out Vinton County’s Wyatt Webb with a 17-0 technical fall for the crown at 113.
The Blue Devil runners-up included sophomore Kyle Greenlee at 120, junior Hunter Jacks at 160, senior Justin Reynolds at 182, and senior Anthony Sipple at 195.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class at the sectional meet qualify for the district meet.
Jacks and Reynolds almost won sectional titles, but lost a pair of narrow hard-fought decisions in their championship matches.
Michael Jude won Fairfield Union’s only championship with a 3-1 decision over Jacks.
Billy Cooper of Jackson was the Ironmen’s only champion — decisioning Reynolds by a count of 5-2.
For Cooper, it concluded a difficult six-week period of being unable to compete due to a shoulder injury — followed by the tragic passing of his sister Emileigh from injuries sustained in a serious car accident on Feb. 5.
Gabe Gibson of Bloom-Carroll claimed the 132-pound championship, thanks to a 6-5 decision over New Lexington’s Andrew Spicer.
Three other Blue Devils — freshman Morgan Stanley at 126, senior Isaiah Holley at 132 and sophomore Trey Rossiter at 220 — all finished fifth.
The Blue Devils did not place a wrestler at heavyweight, 138 or 152, whereas New Lexington was third or higher in all three weight classes, including Matt Adams who won the heavyweight title.
Hood was the runner-up to New Lexington’s Luke Shively at 220, while Casci captured a 4-3 third-place decision over Chillicothe’s Nick Colley at heavyweight.
Meigs had a pair of sixth-place finishers — sophomore Nathaniel Gearheart at 138 and sophomore Tyson Still at 182.
River Valley placed fifth at the Division III meet, collecting 120.5 points, which was nine points behind Crooksville (129.5).
Nelsonville-York easily won the team championship, racking up 243 points.
Two Scioto Valley Conference clubs — Westfall (191.5) and Zane Trace (147) — took second and third-place respectively.
Eastern, who had two sixth-place finishers in freshman Dillon Aeiker at 113 and senior Chase Williams at 220, ended up with 14 points for 16th-place.
The Eagles did score higher then Chesapeake, who had just 13 points.
Trimble and Wellston were tied for 14th-place with 17 points apiece.
While the Raiders did not win any sectional titles, River Valley did earn a pair of runners-up, a third-place finish by senior Tyler Ward, and a trio of fourths.
River Valley freshman Jacob Edwards was second at 113, losing to Nelsonville-York senior Cody Welch with a 9-0 decision in the finals.
George Williams, a senior, was runner-up to Colt Yinger of Nelsonville-York at 145.
Ward wrestled at 195, and pinned Brandon Brammer of Trimble in four-and-a-half minutes in the third-place match.
The three fourth-place Raiders included freshman Cole Franklin at 126, sophomore Jeremiah Dobbins at 132, and freshman Eric Weber at 170.
River Valley’s Grant Gilmore at 152 and Nathan McDaniel at 160 both placed sixth.
Gallia Academy, Meigs and River Valley will now head northward for this weekend’s district meets.
The Blue Devils and Marauders are in the Division II tournament at Claymont, while the Raiders are in the Division III meet at Heath.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106