From Dayton Daily News- Greg Billing
As wrestlers mingled around the Trent Arena floor waiting for their awards ceremony, Springboro coach Fred Boulton was shaking hands and receiving pats on the back. The Panthers’ Division I district wrestling team championship was a long time coming for the program.
In fact, it was the first in program history. Springboro had nine of its 13 district qualifiers place on Saturday for 136.5 points. That was enough to hold off Cincinnati LaSalle’s 124.5.
“Ten years ago, with this group of kids (did I see this coming)? No,” Boulton said. “But a year or two ago I thought it was a possibility.”
Saturday the Panthers made it a reality.
Springboro senior Jacob Kowalski beat Mason junior Owen Amburgy 3-2 to win the 195-pound weight class for the Panthers’ lone individual title. Senior Mason Kleinberg finished second at 138 and senior Tripp Johnson was third at 285. A senior and two freshmen placed fifth and a senior, sophomore and freshman placed sixth to help win the title.
Springboro finished 12th at the district meet last season.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Boulton said. “It’s been a total effort by a lot of coaches for a long time with this group of kids. It’s nice to finally see it pay off.”
As for Kowalski, Kleinberg and Johnson, their seasons continue next week at the D-I state wrestling tournament at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced.
“It’s a great accomplishment for the team,” Kowalski said of the title. “We had a lot of good competition here. It’s awesome.”
Kowalski finished second in his weight class last season to eventual-state finalist Michael Baker from LaSalle. He battled Amburgy to a tough decision that improved his standing this time.
“It feels great coming back and being able to stand at the top of that podium,” said Kowalski, who improved to 41-1. “I’m going to get up on the board in our (wrestling room). It was great competition here and I wrestled tough.”