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CRESTWOOD – Late in the 182-pound wrestling finals Saturday at the South Oldham Dragon Invitational, Oldham County High School senior Zac Gnadinger broke through a deadlocked match.
Gnadinger and North Oldham senior Chase Rusch both picked up wins in their weight classes with late moves.
Thanks to a late grapple, Gnadinger pulled off a big upset over St. Xavier’s Will Tompkins 3-1. Tompkins is ranked No. 2 in the state in the weight class by KentuckyWrestling.com.
Despite a 36-1 record and no losses against in-state competition, Gnadinger entered the meet ranked No. 14 in the state. The win could signal the arrival of a new contender with the post-season just a few weeks away.
Gnadinger said he feels like he's been underrated this season.
"Hopefully this will bring me out of the dark and I will start getting some recognition,” he said.
Gnadinger clinched his first Dragon title when he scored a two-point takedown with 1:50 left in the match.
“He (Tompkins) left me a little opening and I was able to get some leverage,” Gnadinger said. “That changed the course of the match.”
Gnadinger’s performance Saturday is no surprise to OCHS coach Aaron Riordan.
“He has been under the radar this year, but we have expected him to have a breakout day and this was probably it,” Riordan said. “He has had a great year. Zac has pinned every wrestler from the state he had faced this year except the kid from X.”
Gnadinger was one of two champions from the county as North Oldham senior Chase Rusch took the 160-pound title with a 3-2 win over Brandon Pledger of St. Xavier. Rusch won his first Dragon title and raised his record to 35-1 for the season. Rusch also got his title with a third-period takedown to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
Like Gnadinger, Rusch said he hopes to use the win as a springboard for the post-season.
“It feels good to win this and things are starting to go pretty well right now,” Rusch said. “This match and the whole tournament were just the kind of thing you need to get ready for state.”
Rusch is closing strong and also avenged his only loss of the year when he pinned John Stout of Bourbon County in the semis.
“It’s been a while coming but Chase had a really good day,” NOHS coach Craig Schofner said. “This is probably the best he has wrestled all year.”
Two other local wrestlers also reached the finals. OCHS’ Tyler Kaelin suffered his first loss of the year when he fell to Justin Lampe of St. Xavier 7-4.
In the heavyweight division, DeSales’ Trevor Ford pinned Colonels’ senior Mikey Caudill in the second period.
OCHS took third place overall with 145.5 points. St. Xavier won the meet with 213 points followed by Trinity with 179.5. NOHS finished 10th with 79 points while South Oldham was 17th with 39 points.
Story by Mickey Patterson, special to The Oldham Era
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