MARCH 9, 2019 - COLUMBUS
Saturday was a fitting end to a memorable state tournament for the Covington Buccaneers as senior Keringten Martin placed third at 152 pounds and sophomore Cael Vanderhorst took fourth at 113 pounds to give the program at least one state placer for the 12th consecutive year and 25th state medal in school history (22nd state medal since 2005).
“That’s a nice run,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
In the consolation semifinal on Saturday, Keringten Martin faced off with Ryan Marvin of Swanton in a rematch from the first round of the tournament where Martin picked up a 9-5 win.
This time points were hard to come by as both wrestlers were very sound defending each other’s shot attempts. But after a scoreless opening frame, Martin was able to escape from the bottom and picked up a huge takedown with 18 seconds left in the frame for a 3-0 lead.
Marvin chose bottom in the third and Martin was forced to surrender the escape point to make the score 3-1. The Buccaneer wrestler then fended off a late takedown attempt by Marvin to hold on for the 3-1 win.
“I lost to him at LCC and beat him in my first match here, so I knew it was important to score the first points,” Martin said. “He’s good and the first points in a match like this is huge.”
Coach Vanderhorst felt it was the difference in the match.
“We knew that was a toss-up match and the one who got the first takedown was probably going to win,” Vanderhorst said. “When Keringten got that takedown we felt pretty good.”
Martin advanced to the consolation final against Noah Inboden of Nelsonville-York.
And it took some adjustments during the match by Martin to get the job done in a 4-1 victory for third place.
“That kid is a stud on top and we got out of position a couple of times, which had me worried,” Vanderhorst said. “But Keringten made some great adjustments during the match, which is very hard to do at this level.”
Martin also came up big with a takedown late in the first period.
“That was big because Keringten didn’t have to get out off of bottom in the second period,” said Vanderhorst. “It put all of the pressure on the other guy.”
Martin surrendered an escape in the early seconds of the third and was able to stay in solid position on his feet throughout the remainder of the match. This forced Inboden to take a chance late and Martin was able to catch his opponent for a match-sealing takedown.
“That was a case where the other kid had to try something and Keringten was able to catch him out of position,” Vanderhorst said. “The first takedown and then Keringten being able to fend off a few turns was the difference in the match.”
For Martin, who becomes the 14th wrestler in Buccaneer history to earn a state medal, the experience at state was something he will carry with him the rest of his life.
“It feel so good,” Martin said of becoming a state placer. “I knew coming in to this season that I had to have the right diet, the right training and the right mindset. It hasn’t totally sunk in yet, but this feels great.”
He also had the time of his life accomplishing his goals.
“I came here to have fun and that’s what I did,” he continued. “That mindset took a lot of pressure off and I really wasn’t nervous at all. I basically didn’t have anything to lose.”
Cael Vanderhorst (50-6) became just the 8th wrestler in school history to become a multiple state placer as he took fourth at 113 pounds after placing eighth a year ago as a freshman. He also captured his 100th career win.
Being a competitor, Cael is happy to finish higher on the podium than last year, but hoped for more.
“It’s pretty good, I guess, to get fourth, but I’m a little disappointed because I wanted more,” he said. “I guess I can’t dwell on it now.”
In Cael’s 8-0 win over Collin Yinger of Nelsonville-York in the consolation semifinal round, Vanderhorst set the tone of the match with an early takedown. Then after escaping to start the second period, the Buccaneer sophomore recorded another takedown and nearly picked up the pin. Instead, Vanderhorst settled for three back points and an 8-0 lead with two minutes left to wrestle.
And the final two-minutes was a clinic on wrestling from the top position as Vanderhorst controlled Yinger for the entire third period to preserve the 8-0 major decision victory.
“We haven’t wrestled him before, but we knew he was good on top,” Eric Vanderhorst said of Yinger. “Cael did a great job of getting to his feet and was dominant on top. That was a very nice dominating match.”
In his consolation semifinal match, Cael faced Caleb Edwards of Rootstown in a rematch from the quarterfinals where Vanderhorst defeated the Rootstown wrestler 13-8.
This time it was a low scoring match as neither wrestler could gain much offensive success. Vanderhorst scored first on an escape in the second period, but Edwards was able to record a critical takedown off of a scramble midway through the third period.
“We looked at the first match and we figured out how to stop his shots,” Eric Vanderhorst explained. “We were able to shut him (Edwards) down except for the one time and that was the difference in the match.”
Vanderhorst was close to getting a reversal and then close to recording an escape, but Edwards was able to hold on for the narrow 2-1 win.
“Yeah, we were close to getting a reversal and an escape, but couldn’t get it,” Vanderhorst said. “That kid was projected to win it this year, so he’s tough. Cael wrestled him twice and beat him once, so he’s right there.”
But the fact that Vanderhorst became a two-time state placer as a sophomore and was very close to winning the two matches he lost only ads fuel to the fire for his junior year.
“It’s good to know that I’m almost there,” Cael said of coming up just short of advancing to the finals. “I just have to keep working hard and try to get there next year.”
Vanderhorst the coach isn’t ready to look forward to next year quite yet. Instead, he is soaking in what his three Buccaneer wrestlers were able to accomplish at state.
“Any time you have kids who finish on the podium with a state medals around their necks, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “Of course, Kellan (Anderson) is disappointed, but I’m definitely not disappointed in him because he had a great year to finish 50-2. I’m super proud of all three of the kids.”
What is bittersweet is the fact that Martin will not be back next year. The senior finished his season with a 54-3 record and recorded over 150 wins in his career.
“I’m really happy for Keringten,” continued Vanderhorst. “He really worked hard and wrestled hard over here and he won some big matches to finish third. That’s a great way for him to end his career.”
For Martin, placing third at state is rewarding, but what made it even more special was the experience of competing at state in two straight years with close friends Cael Vanderhorst and Kellan Anderson.
“I remember coming over (at state) to drill with Lance (Miller) when I was a sophomore and that experience helped me a lot,” Martin said “Having Cael and Kellan here with me the last two years made it all that much better.”
And the leadership Martin provided Anderson and Vanderhorst is something Cael hopes to pass on to teammates down the line.
“Keringten has been the center of the team, our leader,” said Cael. “It’s definitely not going to be the same in the room without him. Kellan and I will just have to step up as leaders now.”
Which hopefully leads to more Buccaneer success in 2020.