Support our mission

WIESBADEN AIR BASE, Germany — The Ramstein Royals placed 12 wrestlers into Saturday’s semifinals with a dominating performance Friday in the European wrestling championships.

Although there’s no team scoring in the annual high school wrestling finale, the Royals established themselves as the deepest team with the onslaught.

Heidelberg placed six wrestlers in the semis, while Division II champion Bitburg sent five wrestlers.

Seven of Ramstein’s dynamic dozen were seeded fifth or lower — Nick Grahek at 103 pounds, Danny Burns at 135, Karl Saucier at 140, Zacch Sheppard at 145, James Fite at 160, Eric Gardner at 215 and Willie Pierce at 275. Six of them knocked off No. 4 seeds on Friday. Pierce decked third-seeded Grant Essad in 2:20 of their 275-pound quarterfinal match.

Ramstein’s highly seeded quintet — 112-pounder Tracy Tibbitts, 119-pounder Marvin Domingo, 130-pounder Matt Grahek, 135-pounder Jose Figueroa and 152-pounder Logan Rainforth — also continued last week’s successes, led by the unbeaten Tibbitts.

“It’s a little more fun to wrestle someone I haven’t seen before,” Tibbitts said after pinning Jesse Best of Menwith Hill in 1:28 to go improve 16-0 this season.

If the pattern continues Saturday, Tibbitts would face unbeaten Gary Vogt of Aviano in Saturday afternoon’s 112-pound final.

“He’s got me scared,” Tibbitts said.

Tibbits and Vogt are among 10 wrestlers who had perfect records after Friday’s matches.

Falling from the ranks of the unbeaten on Friday were third-seeded 119-pounder Nate Johnson of Aviano, who’s 14-1 after being pinned by Anthony Messina of Bitburg, and fourth-seeded 125-pounder Lawrence Barcelon of Sigonella. He’s 11-1 after running into defending champion Joe Morrow of Patch.

Morrow, unseeded after a 10-4 season at one weight class higher than the one he won here last year, pinned Barcelon in 3:37. Morrow, who also pinned his first foe Friday in 1:26, faces top-seeded Jon Coker of Bitburg in the semis.

Two No. 2 seeds, Seth Hansen of London Central and Brent Logan of the American School of London, fell Friday. Cole McClain of Menwith Hill defeated Hansen 9-4 in a 140 quarterfinal. Würzburg’s Jesse Painter manhandled Logan 15-5 at 130.

Painter broke open what had been a 2-2 match with a six-point flurry near the end of the second period, including a takedown into predicament at the buzzer.

Easily making the semis was Patch’s top-seeded 135-pounder, Josh Anderson, who’s chasing an unprecedented fourth straight European title.

Wrestling with a large brace on the left elbow he dislocated last month, Anderson caught Philip Rehberg with a spectacular over-and-under throw and pinned him in 1:17.

“It feels good,” Anderson said of the elbow. “I’m not worried about it. You can’t wrestle in fear.”

Semifinals are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, with consolation matches to follow at 2 p.m. Championship bouts are set to start at 4:30 p.m.

Admission Saturday is $3 for adults and $2 for students.


Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up