By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS – Troy’s Alex Dalton became very familiar with Loveland’s Andrew Alten over the course of the season.
Unfortunately, that went both ways.
Alten – who had already beaten Dalton twice this season, most recently at last weekend’s district tournament – wrestled a defensive match in the first period, attacked for a short time in the second to get a lead and held on from there, defeating Dalton 9-3 in the semifinals of the Division I state wrestling tournament Friday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“He knew what was coming,” the Troy senior said. “I’ve wrestled him twice, and he knew what I was going to do. So he played it safe and wrestled defensively.
“It was a good match. The score just got away from us.”
Dalton had Alten backpedalling the entire first period, nearly taking him down three times but being unable to keep him in bounds. Once he took Alten down, but on a completely different mat – and the score was 0-0 after one.
Dalton chose to go bottom to start the second, and Alten let him up. From there, his tactics changed, and he caught Dalton in a single-leg takedown and got two near-fall points, then he scored another takedown to go up 8-3 after two.
“This is not a tournament where you can wrestle from behind,” Troy coach Doug Curnes said. “It would have been really nice to get that first takedown. We started strong, and we finished strong. There was just that one stretch in the second where we got a little lackadaisical.”
Dalton finally got a stalling warning called on Alten late in the third, but by then it was too late.
“I was pushing him around the whole match, but he wasn’t getting hit with stalling,” Dalton said. “That could have changed how he wrestled, made him do more. But he was just playing me right.”
Alten will face Centerville’s Conan Jennings today for the state title in a rematch of the district title match – just showing how strong Dalton’s district really was.
“He was the No. 2 guy in the state, and I was right there with him all year,” Dalton said. “But now I’ve got to wrestle in the morning, got to come back strong. But it’s a lot better situation to be in than losing in the first round on Thursday and having to wrestle all the way back.”
“Alex battled and fought the whole way,” Curnes said. “He could have just quit and said ‘forget this, I’m going to play football for Oklahoma.’ But he wanted to put his name on the map in wrestling, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Dalton was beating St. Edwards’ Ralph Nichols 6-1 before his opponent injury defaulted in the quarterfinal match, putting Dalton into the semis and ensuring at worst a sixth-place finish.
Now Dalton will have a shot to fight his way up to third.
“From here forward, it’s all about how high he can climb. The fact that we solidified a spot on the podium is great, but we’re still leaving with a bit of a salty taste, thinking we could have been higher,” Curnes said. “But Alex shouldn’t be walking away from this feeling like he failed. And he gets to come back today and try to climb two more rungs on the ladder.”
* Division II
On Thursday, Austin Robbins became not only the first Tippecanoe wrestler to qualify for the Division II state tournament since Jake Watkins in the 2010-11 season, he also became the first Red Devil to win a match at state.
Friday, though, the junior’s season came to an end with a pair of defeats in the morning session.
Robbins was defeated by Carlisle’s Jimmy Sandlin in the championship quarterfinal round via 12-1 major decision, and then against Richfield Revere’s Zeck Lehman, Robbins dropped a 5-0 decision in the second consolation round.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.