Injury mars Blair Oaks’ split in tri-dual

Fulton junior Dawson Connor struggles to free himself beneath Blair Oaks freshman London Gaydos’ grip during their match Thursday night in Wardsville. Gaydos won the match by fall against Connor in the 120-pound weight class.

Fulton junior Dawson Connor struggles to free himself beneath Blair Oaks freshman London Gaydos’ grip during their match Thursday night in Wardsville. Gaydos won the match by fall against Connor in the 120-pound weight class. Katie Alaimo

WARDSVILLE —The Blair Oaks wrestling team suffered its first dual-match defeat of the season Thursday night, but that wasn’t even close to the biggest loss they took.

Cole Kemna, a senior who’s been a four-year standout for the Falcons, suffered a knee injury that forced him to default his match in the Falcons’ dual with Fulton.

While the extent of the injury won’t be known until he gets examined today, it’s another blow for Kemna, who broke an elbow the week before districts last year and missed the state tournament.

“The loss of a dual is nothing compared to losing him,” said Blair Oaks coach Tim Karsten, whose team is now 12-1 in dual matches. “He’s our team leader and we’re going to see if we can get him back.”

The Falcons started the night with an easy 69-12 win against Centralia. That was just a set-up for the night’s main attraction, a dual with Fulton, the sixth-ranked team in Class 2. The bigger school was able to notch a 42-30 win against Class 1 Blair Oaks, rallying from a 30-15 deficit.

In that match, Kemna, ranked fourth at 170 pounds in Class 1, moved up to wrestle Fulton’s Zach Benner, ranked third at 182 pounds. Benner was leading 4-1 and tried to take down Kemna near the edge of the circle when Kemna suffered the injury to his right knee. After a short consultation with coaches and a trainer, Kemna defaulted.

“If we can get Cole back it would be great, we sure don’t want him missing the state tournament two years in a row,” Karsten said. “Our thoughts and prayers are going out to him.”

The match was one of several where the Falcons moved wrestlers around to try to put their best against Fulton’s best. And in many of those cases, Blair Oaks came out on the short end.

“We moved Cole up there because the way we had it figured, it was going to be tight up there,” Karsten said. “We gambled and lost, and I hope we don’t lose big-time on it by losing Cole.”

The dual started at 285 pounds, where John Karsten, ranked fifth in the state, edged eighth-ranked Clayton Bristol 5-4. Karsten never trailed, although a third-period reversal by Bristol tied it at 4. But Karsten got an escape with one minute left in the match and held on.

“That was two state-ranked kids there and it went down to the wire,” Tim Karsten said.

After Fulton got a forfeit and a win by fall, Blair Oaks ripped off 18 straight points. London Gaydos (120) and Frankie Falotico (126) both won by fall before Bo Thomas (132) won by forfeit.

Alex Gaydos, an honorable mention pick in the Class 1 rankings, then lost a hard-fought 3-0 decision to Trenton Clines, ranked sixth in Class 2.

Logan Mudd (145) was dominant while winning by technical fall before Brad Thomas (152) won 11-3 to give the Falcons a 30-15 lead. But that was it for the Falcons’ scoring, as the Hornets came storming back.

“That’s why we have them on the schedule — they’re a good, quality team and we know where we’re at when we wrestle them,” Karsten said. “They placed second in the state last year as a team and they’ve got a young, tough team right now.

“We had a lot of good matches. We were aggressive and put our best against their best. Sometimes it goes well and this time we obviously wish we hadn’t done it.”

In Blair Oaks’ win against Centralia, six Falcons picked up wins by fall — London Gaydos (120), Alex Gaydos (132), Mudd (145), Corbin Singer (182), Levi Dial (220) and John Karsten (285).

Blair Oaks also had five wrestlers win by forfeit — Clayton Roling (113), Falotico (126), Paul Karsten (138), Shintaro Hatashima (152) and Kemna (170). In the only match that went to a decision, Chance Cumpton (195) posted an 11-4 victory.

Blair Oaks will return to action Saturday at the Warsaw Tournament.

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