After marking three solid years of the program’s resurgence, Little Miami wrestling is now a Southwestern Ohio Conference force to be reckoned with.
The Panthers currently have a 5-0 record in duals with wins over Kings, Badin, Hamilton, Mt. Healthy and Winton Woods. After finishing eighth and then fourth at the Williamsburg Invitational the past two years, Little Miami won the event this season. And at a tough Xenia tournament, the Panthers competed against 10 other teams and won by 61 points.
Head Coach Chad Craft, in his fourth season at Little Miami, has endeavored to build a program that is positive and disciplined, and his grapplers have responded. Instead of just preparing for perennially tough opponents, Craft said the team instead is amped up for every match.
“We expect every opponent to be the toughest opponent that we have competed against,” Craft said.
Craft has been depending on a core group of solid performers to lead the squad, including Tony Agricola, the team’s only senior and tournament MVP at Williamsburg. Craft can also count on other leaders like captains Casey Lawrence, Grant Frith and Cole Gintert, who all advanced to district-level competition last year. Junior Brandon Metz, also a district qualifier, is another wrestler to watch, Craft said, along with a very strong JV squad, which has had several individual tournament champs as well as many placers.
Key to building a success at the varsity level is creating a vibrant youth program. Craft has instituted a summer wrestling camp and has seen the number of participants at the junior level grow to around dozen. In fact, with the high level of interest in Little Miami wrestling, Craft foresees varsity, junior varsity and junior varsity B teams next year.
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