By CONOR NICHOLL
The Erie boys captured their first-ever Tri-Valley League wrestling championship Feb. 1. The Red Devils posted 61 points, eight ahead of Humboldt. Cherryvale finished third with 50 points, followed by Fredonia at 47. Erie’s program has existed since 2007.
Erie captured four individual championships in a conference that also includes Eureka, which won a state title in 2019 and was third in 3-2-1A last winter. Last winter, Eureka won the league title with 107 points, while Erie took sixth with 46 points. In 2020, Eureka picked up the title with 60 points, while Erie was third with 48 points.
At 106, senior Drayton Kennedy, ranked No. 1 in Class 3-2-1A, improved to 23-2. He had a bye, and then won his two matches by fall in 26 seconds and a 5-0 decision. After the league tournament, Kennedy stood at 95-34 in his career, per Track Wrestling archives.
Kennedy and Quinten Hardy were the lone state qualifiers for Erie last winter. Both qualified as freshmen and sophomores, too. At 2021 state, Kennedy finished 22-7 with a fourth-place showing at 106. Hardy (29-5) was sixth at 132.
At 113 at league, freshman Aiden Wilson finished third and moved to an 18-6 mark. With 120, freshman Seth Welch (30-6) finished 2-1 and delivered a runner-up showing. Both of his wins came by fall in 1:38 and 2:26. Welch is ranked fourth in 3-2-1A.
Freshman Dylan Kirkpatrick (8-11) was fourth at 126 and finished 1-2 with a bye win at conference. For 132, sophomore Landon Kmiec (21-4) delivered a championship with two wins by fall in 3:05 and 1:38.
With 138, senior Quinten Heady (21-3) was first with a bye and victories by fall in 3:12 and 2:15.
At 145, senior Nate Thompson went 2-1 and improved to 14-10.
Junior Cayce Welch (24-5) also captured the 170-pound championship with a pair of first-period falls. Senior Brayden Yarnell has delivered a nice season at 285.
The Erie girls have a top wrestler with junior Breanna Ross ranked second at 115 in 3-2-1A. Ross is 26-0 and finished 3-0 with three wins by fall, 1:15, 1:45 and 3:21. Katie Wallace (11-12) also competed at league.