Heading into the finals, only four points separated Ashland and West Holmes from second place. But after going 3-7 in finals matches, the Knights found themselves finishing a distant third in the Ohio Cardinal Conference wrestling championships on Saturday at Clear Fork.
Lexington won the OCC, crowning seven champions along the way, piling up 254.5 points. The Arrows finished second (169) and the Knights third (156). Clear Fork finished fourth (122), followed by Madison (112.5), Orrville (92), Wooster (43) and Mansfield Senior (25).
West Holmes crowned one champion, Max Rohskopf at 145. Rohskopf scored an 18-6 major decision over Ashland's Tyler Wilson. He was named Outstanding Wrestler of the OCC tournament after pinning his way to the finals.
The North Carolina State-bound senior dislocated his finger early in the championship match and still was able to best the Arrows' sophomore.
Wilson seemed to be poking a hornet's nest when he grabbed Rohskopf by the injured and taped left hand and pulled on it.
Rohskopf overcame the urge to take a swing at Wilson, and beat him soundly on the mat.
"I don't know if I'd have been able to show that kind of restraint," said West Holmes coach Jeff Woods. "He's smart. He didn't need to do anything and get thrown out and not be at the sectional tournament."
Aside from Rohskopf's title, the Knights got four second-place finishes.
Cole Woods, the Knights' 106-pound freshman, dropped a 7-0 decision in the title match against Alize Merrell of Madison.
Woods scored a fall and a 4-0 decision over Lexington's Jonah Schropp along the way to the finals.
Senior Lane Darr (126) dropped an 8-6 overtime decision to Drew Kinzell of Clear Fork. Darr pinned Orrville's Jon Markley and decisioned Zane Speelman of Madison 5-2 to reach the finals.
Another Knights freshman, Jed Hendershott, got stuck by Lexington's Jon Watkins in the 132-pound championship match. Hendershott advanced by scoring a 15-2 major decision in the opening round and a 7-2 decision in the semifinals.
The Knights' Grayson Miller, junior 195-pounder, dropped a 16-1 technical fall against Lexington's undefeated Josh Lehner, the reigning state champion. Miller pinned his way to the finals, including a second-period fall against Orrville's Nathan Simon.
"We could've had it there with a little better outcome in our head-to-head matchups, and a little help from some other teams," Woods said. "We placed 10 kids overall. We'll take that."
The Knights had two wins in battles for third place.
Jack Scherer, 138-pound senior, scored an 8-6 win over Greg Johnson of Clear Fork. Scherer opened the tournament with a pin against Madison's Amir Evans, but got knocked to the consolations by eventual champion Xavier White (Lexington). Scherer advanced to the finals by scoring an 11-1 major decision over David Markel of Ashland.
Tyler McElroy, 170-pound junior, earned the other third-place for the Knights, sticking Madison's John Schuerer at 4:10. It was McElroy's third pin of the day. He opened with a first-period fall against Mansfield Senior, and after getting pinned by 170-pound champion Drew Kasper of Lexington, he rebounded with a first-period fall against Orrville's Tyler Ward.
"Tyler McElroy's been wrestling well. He won our tournament and he placed high here," Woods said.
West Holmes added three fourth-place finishes: Josiah Allison (113), Matt Schlegel (160) and Zach Mullet (182). The Knights also had one fifth-place finish (Caleb Cox, 152) and a sixth-place Mitch Tyson (120).
Orrville got a second-place finish from Danny Wallo at 113 pounds and three third-place finishes.