Josh Dommer sounds a little like a coach who is running out of time. There is no desperation in his voice, but you can sense the urgency when he talks about championships.
The Leo wrestling coach will guide his Lions into Saturday's ACAC Tournament for the second-to-last time. Beginning with the 2015-16 season, Leo will switch to the NHC.
“Sure, we want to win,” Dommer said. “Last year, we won the round robin (regular-season dual matches), but then Adams Central beat us in the tournament. We want to sweep it this year.”
Dommer also wants the Lions to leave their mark in the conference, and to do so they must beat, fittingly, the Flying Jets, the ACAC's most storied program.
“Last year was close, but they got us,” Dommer said. “And it's going to be close again this year.”
Leo pulled away late in the regular-season dual match to win 45-30. Dommer insists that with a few matches to go, it could've gone either way.
Of course, winning regular-season matches is different from tournament wrestling, but Dommer says Leo and Adams Central “have the most complete teams.” But even that comes with a caveat.
“Woodlan has some really good lightweights, and Heritage is really strong in the middleweights,” Dommer said. “Garrett has a couple of outstanding wrestlers, and there several more in the conference. It just comes down to who wrestles the best.”
Leo is led by senior heavyweight Bryce Hager (26-1) and the Eicher brothers, Aaron (23-2 at 170) and Isaac (24-0 at 132). Hager is ranked No. 15 in the state at 285, and his lone defeat was a 1-0 decision to No. 2-ranked Eric Hemmelgarn of Jay County.
Other state-ranked wrestlers in the field are South Adams' Sawyer Miller (No. 4 at 120) and Klayton Hinshaw (No. 12 at 182) and Adams Central's Derek Ellinger (No. 16 at 138).
Leo tops the field with six No. 1 seeds; Adams Central has three top seeds. Both teams have two No. 2 seeds.
Perhaps the most intriguing weight class could be at 132 where Isaac Eicher could face Heritage's Sam Lovejoy (18-1) in the final. The two have not met this year.
CONFERENCE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
ACAC: Garrett hosts; wrestling begins at 9 a.m.; placing rounds at 2:15 p.m.
SAC: Snider hosts; wrestling begins at 8:30 a.m.; placing rounds begin at 12:30 p.m.
NHC: Bellmont hosts; wrestling begins at 9 a.m.