XENIA — Year two of the Xenia Invitational Tournament under Xenia head coach Andy Lewis displayed the growth which has been quickly generated for the event in addition to the potential it has to build toward in future years.
The three-day event showcased all of the different prep levels available. Friday had middle school wrestlers compete, Saturday was the varsity tournament, and Sunday saw younger kids from age four through those in the sixth grade get their chance on the mat.
“We changed the date so that it’s on the opening weekend of wrestling in Ohio,” Lewis said. “That was big for me as I want to start the season at home and I want all age groups to be a part of it. I want a wrestling takeover for the weekend.”
Close to 1,000 grapplers made the trip into Xenia to compete across the three days. Close to 200 in high school and according to Lewis over 500 kids were expected on Sunday with 80 alone coming from the Xenia area’s Gladiator Wrestling Club. It’s part of plans to change the local landscape of wrestling.
“The cool thing about this weekend that’s happened is every group has came out and supported the other groups,” he said. “Our high school and youth came and watched the middle school. They did the same for the high school [Saturday] and worked the tournament, and then its the same during Sunday to help try to make it a tight knit group.”
The high school field had 15 teams compete with Fairborn and Greeneview joining in from Greene County.
Xenia showed well in hosting its own tournament with a fourth place finish at 169 points to sit just 1.5 points behind Troy in third. Seven wrestlers placed for the Bucs and six of them qualified for the championship brackets with Ronnie Butler at 215 and Jamell Smith at 285 coming out victorious.
“A lot of young guys came out and impressed in the sense of this being their first time in a pressure situation and not being sure what to expect,” Lewis said. “Then obviously our leaders in Jamell and Ronnie came out and did what they had to in addition to guys like Jayce Clark who has come a long way from last year.”
The competition level in the event is growing each year as well. Lewis said he would love to see the XIT become a top notch destination to open the season, and hopes to keep bringing in new teams which have high aspirations in a given year to keep it growing.
“Andy does such a great job here,” Greeneview head coach Mark Matt said. “This being a 20-minute trip for us is great. There’s a lot of really good wrestling here and this was a great starting point for us.”
“This was a good event to start off the season,” Fairborn head coach Charlie Spain said of the XIT. “Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
As girls wrestling sets off for its first official season as an OHSAA sponsored sport this year, both Matt and Lewis believe enough ambition exists with the right turnout in future years to where they could have their own portion of the event too.
Wrestling is growing and the XIT is on its way to being a key part of the development of kids at multiple levels.
“We hope to carry this year in and year out for all ages of wrestling,” Lewis said. “…A long time ago this was a highly competitive tournament and I’m trying to get us to revisit those days.”
Xenia will next compete at Saturday’s Edgewood Invite.
Fairborn’s youth has strong first outing
The Skyhawks placed in a tie for eighth at the XIT with Greenon by scoring 110 team points.
Fairborn’s numbers has more than doubled from last year and the excitement around the program is growing.
“We have 39 kids on our roster this year,” Spain said, noting he only had 16 wrestlers come out a year ago. “I was able to send another group to Sidney. This is a huge turnout. … For the most part it’s young guys and first year wrestlers, and they all came out and many got their first win [Saturday].”
Six of the 13 wrestlers competing for Fairborn during the tournament were freshman or sophomores. Emmett Humphrey, a two-time middle school MVL champion, stood out for the Skyhawks for Spain after temporarily being bumped up a weight class from 106 to 113, and Logan Schlieman was another freshman with a strong finish.
Spain said he was impressed with the fight and aggression shown on the mat by his team and thinks there is a lot to be optimistic about in the upcoming campaign.
“We might not have gotten as many places as we wanted, but there were a lot of good things,” he said. “You could tell there were some situations when the kids weren’t too sure what to do, but for the most part it turned out alright.”
Fairborn returns to action on Saturday at the Oakwood Invitational.
Greeneview depth flexes strength
There was an immediate change seen through the eyes of Matt from his Rams’ wrestlers as the group got its season underway.
“In years past, we were too tentative, too passive and too defensive,” he said. “The kids today were pulling the trigger. I wish I knew what the magic was for that”
Greeneview placed seventh at the XIT a year ago, and while Matt noted they don’t control the competition faced, he felt his guys performed much better to their abilities this time.
It certainly showed in the final results with the Rams finishing in second place as a team and scoring 180.5 points. Greeneview had eight individual placers, the second most behind tournament champion Northmont’s 10. Six of the Rams’ eight placers also competed in their respective championship brackets with Kyan and Ashton Hendricks both placing first.
“The work they put in today is work that’s meant to prepare them for March,” Matt said. “These are the things we need to work on now so that they have a chance to be in Columbus at the end of the season.”
Greeneview will hit the mat next on Saturday at the Harry Steele Tournament in London.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.