Two locals win titles at Barnesville tourney

The Doan Ford-Barnesville Invitational wrestling tournament could be called the Claymont Invite.

Saturday inside ‘The Greenhouse,” the powerful Mustangs rang up 307 points to easily outdistance the 18-team field in the 43rd annual event in Barnesville.

“We’ve been coming here since 1979, and other than a few years in the 1980s, we’ve pretty much dominated this tournament,” veteran Claymont head coach Eric Tolkien said. “We’ve got a pretty veteran team this year, and we’re hoping this season can be special.”

If Saturday’s performance is any indication of how dominant the Tuscarawas County squad can be, look out. The Mustangs advanced 11 of their 14 individuals into the championship finals, with all but two prevailing in their respective weight classes.

Locally, a pair of grapplers stood atop the podium after securing victories in their weight divisions. They were Beallsville’s Bruce Sefert (152) and St. Clairsville’s Dalton Nolte (160).

Sefert, who entered the event seeded third, edged out Claymont’s Rexx Peters by a slim, 3-1, margin. With the bout deadlocked at one after Peters managed an escape with 20 ticks remaining, the Blue Devils’ senior recorded a takedown at the 9-second mark and held on for the victory.

“I feel as if I’ve trained better than everyone else,” Sefert admitted. “I just want to go out and attack … never give up and keep pushing forward.”

In winning a combined four matches Friday night and Saturday, Sefert, who missed almost all of last season with a knee injury, ran his season mark to 7-0.

“It feels good,” he said with a huge smile and a wad of cotton still stuck in his nose, which bled for nearly the entire 6-minute bout. “It was kind of hard to breathe, but I battled through it.

“I was trying not to give up the reversal, but when he got the escape and I got the takedown, I knew I could ride him out.”

Nolte, who was on St. Clairsville’s state runnerup football team, didn’t have nearly as much trouble as he pinned his way to the title. The top-seed put Caldwell’s Caleb VanMeter to his back in 4:59.

“With only two weeks of practice, I feel pretty good about winning this tournament,” Nolte, who made it back-to-back championships in Barnesville, said. “Four pins isn’t bad.”

Four other local wrestlers finished runnerup, those being Martins Ferry’s duo of Theo Zoumpoulidis (106) and Jonathan Bodkin (285); Monroe Central’s Rodney Richter (113); and River’s J.D. Dotson (220).

Zoumpoulidis was pinned in a mere 33 seconds by Claymont freshman Tyler Warner. Warner’s older brother, DJ, made quick work of Richter in 1:56. Bodkin suffered a 3-1 setback to Tuscarawas Valley’s Joe Newsome, while Dotson was a 4-2 loser to Claymont’s Garrett Harding.

A total of 14 other local individuals placed either third or fourth in their weight classifications.

St. Clairsville, which placed fourth overall with 94 markers, had four other placewinners in addition to Nolte. Justin Callarik (138) and Corey Ernest (285) were both third, while Seth Benge (182) and Michael Furbee (220) finished fourth.

Martins Ferry, which was right behind the Red Devils with 90 points for fifth place, also had a handful of placewinners. Besides the aforementioned runnersup, Damon Outward (132) and Zac Coole (220) were third, and Bryce Coleman (145) was fourth.

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