NEW HAVEN – The key to Leo winning its first-ever wrestling sectional title Saturday was the Lions not worrying about winning the title beforehand.
Mission accomplished as a relaxed Lions team won the New Haven Sectional team championship with 224 points, outdistancing runner-up Snider’s 182.5 points.
“We told them (Friday) that as much of a big deal a sectional title is, let’s worry about yourself and get everybody through and let the points take care of themselves,” Leo coach Josh Dommer said.
“Hopefully that relaxed them some. I told them to be selfish and worry about the team points later.
“It’s something we have been working hard on for the last couple of years. I thought we had a good shot at it this year because we had a pretty good team.”
Leo, which won an ACAC championship just four days prior, had four individual champions – Eddie Lorraine (113), Isaac Eicher (132), Aaron Eicher (170) and Bryce Hager (285).
The Lions were the sectional runner-up a year ago to New Haven.
“It is our first one, so that’s cool,” Aaron Eicher said of the sectional title. “Moving people on to regional is the big focus, not getting pinned and pin when you have the chance.”
Aaron Eicher repeated his sectional title but moved up a couple of weight classes this year from a 152 title in 2013.
He beat New Haven’s Luis Chacon, the top seed and defending 170 champion, 7-1 in the finals.
“He had beaten me before in overtime,” Aaron Eicher said of Chacon. “I got that first takedown, and that really set the tone.
“It really feels the same. It’s not really a big change. I cut a lot of weight last year too.”
Isaac Eicher, Aaron’s younger brother, came in as the third seed but left as a champion.
“I was a third seed, but I also knew I was undefeated (29-0),” Isaac Eicher said. “They were good wrestlers, but I was pretty confident.
“I can see where they are coming from. (The top two seeds in Huntington North’s Tanner Shipley and Snider’s Bobby Humphrey) went to semistate last year, and they are good wrestlers. I was fine with my seed. It gave me a little motivation.”
Leo went 4-4 in the finals and some of them weren’t even expected to advance that far.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to next week’s Carroll Regional.
“In a meet like this, it is so important to wrestle to your seeds and have a couple of kids do more and give you some extra points,” Dommer said. “Some young kids stepped up for us.”
The runner-up and SAC champion Panthers got individual titles from Erique Early (126) and Dustin Wells (152).
Wayne finished third with 163 points, Huntington North fourth with 156 and Homestead fifth with 125.
Homestead had three champions, Jack Franklin (106), Drake Rhodes (120) and Wyatt Clem (182).
Wayne had two winners in Shaun Johnson (160) and Kanez Omar (195).
Also winning were New Haven’s Kyle Bender (138), Huntington North’s Bailey Shockome (145) and South Side’s Tyree Elkins (220).