MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets wrestling team won its first tournament since the Ohio Cardinal Conference tournament in the 2014-15 season, powered by four individual champions.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” Mount Vernon coach Nate Cornell said. “The main takeaway is yes, you want to win your home tournament. It’s a great way to jumpstart the season, but the biggest takeaway is they’re wrestling the way we talk about in practice — with an edge, scoring first and always looking to score. They were aggressive and physical.”
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Jacket junior Wyatt Gregory came in to the day with a target on his back, winning his weight class at the Bad Apple Brawl a year ago.
“I kind of have mixed emotions about it,” Gregory said during the day on coming back as the returning champion. “I feel like I need to win it again so I can defend it, but I’m just going to give all my effort.”
Defending his title and picking up a team title was at the top of the to-do list for Gregory, but he was also just excited to get out and knock off the rust with some competitive action.
“It’s the best feeling ever because you’re in the wrestling room and you don’t want to beat your friends up, but when you step on the mat, you don’t have any friends,” Gregory said. “It’s just you. That’s it. When you come out in competition, you don’t know anyone so you just start smacking them around.”
Senior Max VanFossen was another champion for the Jackets, reaching the top of the podium at 170 pounds. He won by technical fall against Mifflin’s Tayvaugh Woods, followed by a pin at the 1:09 mark over Delaware Christian’s Nate Boodoo. He marched his way to the title once in the bracket, pinning Kobry Nichols (Northridge), Steven Schisler (Mount Vernon) and Sean Grim (Saint Charles).
Triston Bowers (138) joined Gregory as a junior title-winner for Mount Vernon. In round robin action, he picked up a pin in 19 seconds over Olentangy Berlin’s Hugh Peterson, before beating fellow teammate Gabe Shannon by a 16-1 technical decision. After a first-round bye, Bowers pinned Gahanna’s Marcus Rogers and Dublin Jerome’s Lane Williams to secure the title.
Jacket freshman Colton Spurgeon splashed onto the scene in his first high school action Saturday, cruising through pool play action with three pins in the first period and a 15-3 major decision. In the first-place match, he beat Jerome’s Jack Viola in a 9-0 major decision.
“Max has been working hard for me and Colton has too,” Cornell said. “Wyatt and Triston are football guys, but after football, they started working hard for me, too.”
The Jackets also had a group of four runners-up. Starting with the lightest, Jacob Burrell competed at 120 pounds, where he went 3-1 in pool play action, with his three wins all coming by fall. He lost to Gahanna’s Christian Salazar in the round robin round by an 11-4 decision, and in the title match, he lost to Salazar again, but by a 12-6 decision.
Jacob Dehart, at 126 pounds, snagged two pins in the opening rounds by a combined 1:25. After a first-round bye, he pinned Jerome’s Luke Milanovich in 58 seconds. Dehart went the distance in the championship match, but lost by an 8-4 decision against Gahanna’s Chuck Williams.
At 160 pounds, Ryan Tiell put on a show in the opening rounds, recording three pins, with all coming at the 1:15-mark or sooner. He advanced to the top bracket, where he recorded a 10-2 major decision win over teammate Connor Dailey. Tiell took Newark’s Jade Batross the distance in the title match, but lost by a 6-2 decision.
Gabe Harmon (195) was the third Mount Vernon wrestler to take silver. He won his two pool play matches by first round pins to earn a bye in the bracket. He pinned Saint Charles’ George Cottrill in 56 seconds to advance to the first-place match, where he was pinned in the second period by Jerome’s Travis Leonard.
Gabe Shannon came into the day as Mount Vernon’s “B” wrestler at 138 pounds, but he still secured bronze. He was one of four “B” Jacket wrestlers to finish in the top-five of their weight class.
“That shows we are strong in our whole lineup, from our freshmen to our three seniors,” Cornell said. “It showed some of our younger guys that they do belong.”
Shannon’s only loss in the opening rounds came to his champion teammate. He beat his other teammate at 138 pounds (Legend Virgilli) in the bracket by a fall in the first, before losing to Williams. He bested Gahanna’s Marcus Rogers by pin in the second to take bronze.
Connor Dailey joined Tiell at 160 pounds, where he finished third, going 2-1 in pool play. He was bested by Tiell in the semi-finals and was dropped to the third-place match, where he pinned Saint Charles’ Caleb Kish at the 4:22-mark.
Dylan Hartman (106) secured a win on the day and finished fourth in the same division Spurgeon competed in. Steven Schisler was in the same weight class as champion VanFossen and he held his own, snagging a pool play pin with a second left on the clock. He pinned Newark’s Ian Wilson, before falling to VanFossen in the semi-finals. In the fifth-place match, he pinned Gahanna’s Ricky Alli in the third period.
Jacket senior Bailey Cunningham wrestled at 182 pounds and finished fourth. He recorded a 20-second pin in his first match, followed by a 12-2 major decision in the first round of the bracket. Champion Corey Hill (Berlin) pinned Cunningham, sending him to the third-place match, where he was pinned by Gahanna’s Luke Garback.
Freshman heavyweight Nate Stradley snagged two wins in round robin action to secure a top seed in the bracket. He pinned Newark’s Nate Street to advance, but lost in a 5-0 decision to Berlin’s Antonio Alonso. In the third-place match, he was pinned by Northridge’s Zach George.
Other wrestlers to compete for the Jackets Saturday included: Zach Snyder (113, 0-5), Logan Moore (126, 2-2), Xavier Guillermo (126, 1-3), Connor Lang (132, 2-3), Legend Virgilli (138, 0-3) and Jacob Stichert (152, 2-2).
The Jackets piled up 459 team points to secure the win. Gahanna finished second with 393 and Jerome turned in 345 points.
“We are happy, but ultimately, we know this is a first step to competing well at sectionals, districts and maybe state,” Cornell said. “We won, let’s enjoy this. But, come Monday, it’s on to the next one.”
The next one for the Jackets comes Thursday when the Jackets compete in a tri-meet at Westerville South, starting at 6 p.m.