COLUMBUS, Ohio — Now that’s finishing strong, even though they aren’t finished yet.
A pair of Gallia Academy seniors — Brandon Taylor and Zack Tackett — are rewriting the school’s record books this weekend at the 2012 Division II OHSAA Wrestling Championships at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of the Ohio State University.
The Blue Devil duo has been busy destroying most of the program’s all-time records through two of the three days at the state competition, as both Taylor and Tackett have secured at least two wins apiece and a spot on the podium in their respective divisions.
After two days, Tackett and Taylor have amasses totals of five wins and 16 team points — which has GAHS sitting 22nd currently out of 87 scoring teams. Perennial power St. Paris Graham leads the D-2 race with 156 points, with Lexington (81) and Cuyahoga Falls CVCA (69.5) rounding out the top three spots.
Both Taylor and Tackett scored victories in their opening round matches on Thursday, which advanced the duo to their respective quarterfinals on Friday morning. Taylor needed 3:27 to pin Bobby Mounts of Springfield Kenton Ridge in his opening match in the 170-pound division, while Tackett won a 5-2 decision over Patrick Sheets of McConnelsville Morgan in his 182-pound starter.
The 2-0 Day One start is a GAHS school record, as the previous two duos of Dustin Winters-Tommy Saunders (2005) and Taylor-Matt Watts (2011) both went .500 in their respective opening matches at the state tournament. Tackett and Taylor also join Winters and Saunders in coming away with at least one win each at the same meet.
After scoring seven points on Thursday, the Blue Devils added another nine points Friday after posting a collective 3-2 mark. Both grapplers scored a win each on Day Two, although they came in very different spots.
Tackett was pinned just 46 seconds into his second match against former state champion Huston Evans of St. Paris Graham, but the senior responded with two straight wins to advance to Saturday’s competition. Tackett defeated Austin Miller of Carrolton by a 6-1 decision in the consolation round to secure a spot on the podium (top-eight), then moved a few spots up the boxes after scoring a 7-3 decision against Sean Rutherford (Norton) in another consolation contest.
Taylor scored a 7-3 decision over Jake Howarth of Steubenville in his opening match Friday, which advanced Taylor to the championship semifinals later that night. The win over Howarth also assured Taylor of a top-six finish and a spot on the podium. Taylor, however, suffered a 6-3 setback to Brandon O’ Neill of Bellville Clear Fork in that semifinal, dropping the senior down into the consolation tournament Saturday.
Both Taylor and Tackett can finish as high as third place, and both are guaranteed to at least match the school record set by Jeptha Robinson back in 1988 after he placed sixth in his weight class. The senior duo will also join Robinson and Jared Gravely (2010) as the only Blue Devils to ever place on the podium. Gravely finished eighth overall with a 2-2 mark.
A wrapup of Tackett and Taylor’s weekend will appear in the Tuesday sports edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
Complete results of the 2012 OHSAA Wrestling Championships are available on the web at ohsaa.org