COSHOCTON, Ohio — History in the making … again.
Hopefully this time they’ll actually get the chance to make it.
The River Valley wrestling team secured its first-ever weight class champion at the district level and had a school record four athletes qualify for state, while Eastern senior Steven Fitzgerald became the first Eastern grappler to advance to state following completion of the 2021 Division III District Wrestling Championships held this weekend at Coshocton High School.
The Raiders — who had three state qualifiers last year before COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the event just 24 hours beforehand — set another bench mark for the program this past Friday and Saturday as the Silver and Black are sending multiple competitors to the state level for a third straight year.
RVHS — which had seven district competitors — ended up placing fourth out of 51 scoring teams with 93.5 points. The Eagles finished in a 5-way tie for 31st with Elgin, Liberty Union, Tuscarawas Valley and Zane Trace as each squad produced 18 points.
South Gallia — which also made a bit of history — ended up 51st overall with two points. Barnesville won the D-3 team title with 175 points, while Sandy Valley was the runner-up with 149 points.
All three of River Valley’s state qualifiers from last year are again moving on to the state level, including junior Will Hash — who became the program’s first district champion with a perfect 4-0 mark at 182 pounds. Hash scored three straight pinfall wins and defeated Jack Hillyer of Alexander by a 3-2 decision in the championship match.
Junior Nathan Cadle became the program’s first 3-time state qualifier after going 4-1 overall with four pinfalls while placing third at 145 pounds. Sophomore Andrew Huck is also a returning state qualifier after going 3-1 overall — including a pinfall and a 16-1 technical fall win — while placing second at 126 pounds.
Sophomore Justin Stump became the sixth RVHS grappler to qualify for state after going 4-1 overall at 138 pounds. Stump ended up third and posted both a single pinfall win and a pair of major decisions.
Senior Brice Petitt (220) and junior Aiden Green (160) each went 1-2 overall, with Petitt claiming a pinfall win. Junior Nathan Brown also came up winless in two matches at 152 pounds.
Fitzgerald — who placed sixth a year ago at the district level — became Eastern’s first 3-time district qualifier before becoming the school’s first state qualifier in wrestling.
The senior heavyweight was pinned in his opening match with Liberty Union’s Drew Walker, but Fitzgerald reeled off three straight pinfall wins before getting a rematch with Walker with a state spot on the line.
Fitzgerald claimed a 6-1 decision in the rematch and ended up placing fourth overall with a 3-3 mark after defaulting in the 3rd-place bout.
EHS junior Jayden Evans also notched his first-ever district win and went 1-2 overall at 170 pounds.
Sophomore Reece Butler — who became South Gallia’s first-ever sectional champion a week ago — ended up going 1-2 overall at 120 pounds. Butler joins his older brother, Justin, in being the only SGHS grapplers to ever win a match at the district level.
The 2021 OHSAA Division III Championships will be held Saturday and Sunday at Marion Harding High School. The 106-145 divisions will compete from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. or later, while the 152-285 matches will start at 4:30 p.m.
Visit baumspage.com for complete results of the 2021 D-3 District Wrestling Championships held at Coshocton High School.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.