DELPHOS — When it comes to wrestling, Delphos Jefferson made a name for itself when it had two state champions in the upper weight classes in a three-year span. The two state champions also happened to be brothers.
Stuart Miller won the Division III state championship in 2009 in the 215-pound weight class. Last season, his brother Curtis Miller won the title at 220.
Now, three Delphos Jefferson wrestlers who compete in the upper weight classes, and who grew up admiring the Miller brothers, will be aiming to make a name for themselves at the state tournament.
The state tournament will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
Colin McConnahea (195-pound weight class), Quinten Wessell (220) and Geoff Ketcham (285) will be competing for the Wildcats in Columbus for the first time in their careers.
Wessell has fought through some adversity to put himself in this position.
“It feels great,” Wessell said. “From what happened last year — getting hurt and not being able to make it to the second day (at districts) — this is a huge step.
“Watching Curtis (Miller) do it, I thought to myself, ‘I need to do that. …I need to follow in his steps.’”
After being in control throughout the first period of the championship match at the Division III district tournament at Kettering Fairmont against Blanchester’s Travis Boyd on Sunday, Wessell made a move on Boyd early in the second period. Unfortunately for Wessell, Boyd countered his move and pinned him.
“Boyd’s a great wrestler and I had him on his back, (leading) 5-0 (in the first period),” Wessell said. “So that’s going to give me a lot of confidence, going into next week (state tournament). And I’m ready to go.”
McConnahea suffered his first defeat of the season at the district tournament, losing to Versaille’s Kyle Dieringer 5-3. However, McConnahea battled back and notched a third-place finish, earning a trip to the state tournament. Last season, McConnahea finished fifth at districts, earning a state-alternate spot at 195.
“I wrestled pretty well until semifinals,” McConnahea said. “I went in a little too cocky and I lost. But I battled back and got third. I’m happy with that. This is great to get down there with them (Wessell and Ketcham).”
Ketcham, who is actually a cousin of the Millers, said the three of them looked up to the Millers while growing up. Ketcham placed third at Kettering Fairmont.
“They were a big influence on all three of us, actually. We just wanted to be like them — go to state, place at state, win state,” Ketcham said.
All three wrestlers making it to the state tournament did not come as a surprise to the Delphos Jefferson coaching staff. In fact, it was pretty much expected.
“They’ve been pretty dominant all year,” Delphos Jefferson coach Mike Wilson said. “They’ve worked hard, they’re seniors and will be hard to replace. It wasn’t the perfect route to get to state. I thought all three could have been in the finals. But they all battled back, and here we are.”
Added Wessell, “I’ve been wrestling with them since kindergarten. It’s been awesome to watch us grow and to have all three of us go down there together (to the state tournament).”
Wilson primed for state title run
Bluffton’s Zach Wilson got a good gauge of where he’s at when he wrestled last year’s state champion (145), Jordan Marshall (Troy Christian) at this past weekend’s district tournament at Kettering Fairmont.
Wilson lost to Marshall, 5-2 in the district championship match at 152. That loss was the first of the year for Wilson (45-1).
This will be Wilson’s fourth trip to the state tournament. He’s finished fourth the past two years in the tournament.
Wilson is confident of his chances in Columbus.
“I’ve made a lot more gains than that kid (Marshall) has,” Wilson said. “I’ve worked really hard and I really want it.”
Area Division III state qualifiers
Coach: Mike Abbey
Tyler Baker (Sr., 120, 38-9)
Max McAdoo (Sr., 160, 39-7)
Coach: Clayton Westerbeck
Colin Ingram (Jr., 113, 18-5)
Coach: Jeff Kleman
Zach Wilson (Sr., 152, 45-1)
Josiah Conley (Sr., 182, 39-10)
Coach: Rob Schmidt
Derek Collett (Sr., 170, 31-8)
Justin Post (Jr., 220, 48-3)
Coach: Mike Wilson
Colin McConnahea (Sr., 195, 45-1)
Quinten Wessell (Sr., 220, 24-3)
Geoff Ketcham (Sr., 285, 49-3)
DELPHOS ST. JOHN’S
Coach: Derek Sterling
Will Buettner (Sr., 170, 44-7)
LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Coach: Tommy Connelly
Brandon McCormick (Sr., 138, 45-3)
Bobby Sunderhaus (Sr., 170, 43-7)
Coach: Josh Neilson
Tyler Ash (Sr., 220, 38-9)