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Moeller Defeats Harrison to Take the Region
January 30, 2014Cincinnati Moeller High School
by Chase Howell, Cincinnati Enquirer
After falling to Massillon Perry in the Division I state semifinals last season, the Moeller wrestling team is itching for another shot at a championship.
With a 49-21 victory over Harrison in the Region 8 final on Jan. 29, the Crusaders booked their spot in this year’s state tournament.
“The first step is to get there, and now we’ve got there,” Moeller coach Jeff Gaier said. “We have some work to do over the next week and a half, but once we get there, we’re hoping we can go a little farther.”
To advance, Moeller (ranked No. 1 in the Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll) had to first pass No. 2 Loveland in the Region 8 semifinals, then the No. 4 Wildcats.
In the first dual, Moeller won 37-29. The victory did not come easily, however, as the Loveland heavyweights attempted to claw back into the match. After Moeller senior Austin Bonehek won the 160-pound match by pinning Loveland senior Jacob Paul in the third period, Moeller led 37-11. The Tigers won the remaining five matchups, but could not completely close the gap.
“In the first dual, just getting us started was our 106, [sophomore] Cooper Graves. By getting a win there, and then [sophomore] Jaelen Summerous, that really started us off well,” Gaier said. “Then our middleweights kept it going, too. I think getting that early lead really took some of the pressure off before we got into the later matches, where we have their top kids facing our top kids.”
On the other semifinal mat, Harrison and St. Xavier, No. 7 in the Enquirer Division I Area Coaches’ battled to for the slot against Moeller. The Wildcats and Bombers fought back and forth, with neither team winning back-to-back individual matches.
Up 32-31 entering the final individual matchup, Harrison senior David Sittason pinned St. Xavier senior Matt Kulhman, sealing a Wildcat victory at 1:48.
“We’ve got a lot of tough guys,” St. Xavier coach Tedd Wynn said after the loss. “These guys worked hard all season. Every period we’re supposed to get better, and we did in most matches. We came out, we wrestled them nose to nose right out, and we wrestled well.”
With minutes before the final dual, Harrison coach Chad Dennis prepared his team to face the No.1 squad in the area.
“It’s something you always want to do, you know, it’s a measuring stick,” Dennis said. “Of course we’re the underdogs going in, so we’re going to come out with a bang and give them everything we got.”
The Wildcats could not stick with the Crusaders, however, quickly falling behind in the middle weight classes.
The Crusaders hope to carry the momentum from the large margin of victory in the Region 8 final to the state quarterfinal on Feb. 8.
“It’s good for us right now, winning out of our region,” Moeller senior Campbell Morton said. “We had a tough start this season, but we’re kind of getting our groove on right now, hitting our stride, picking it up when we need to. Winning tonight was big, and the margins we won by give us some confidence moving on.”
With the bitter taste of last year’s state semifinal loss still haunting the Crusaders, Morton, who won both his matches, is optimistic about Moeller’s chances.
"This year, we feel like we have one of the strongest teams to date for this program, so we have really high expectations going to state. We expect to raise that first place trophy.”