Halliday, Piontkowski win titles at Rieman Invitational


Entering the final month of the regular season, Devin Halliday knew he wanted to work on his offense in an effort to become a more well-rounded wrestler. Halliday, a Delaware Hayes senior, wants to improve on his 1-2 performance at last year’s Division I state tournament.

So far, it’s worked. He turned his offensive-focused approach into a first-place finish at 157 pounds in the Rieman Invitational on Saturday at Hayes.

“Normally, I’m more of a defensive (wrestler) — react instead of attack,” Halliday said. “I want to start changing that to work at the state level and getting my attacks functioning. A lot of the matches I lose is because I struggle to get to my scores. So, working on my attacks — setting them up, getting to them and finishing — really helped me out today.”

Halliday was one of two Delaware County wrestlers to take the top prize, including Olentangy’s Jake Piontkowski at 126.

The Pacers finished fourth of 14 teams with 151 points behind winner Dublin Coffman (302.5) followed by the Braves (seventh, 109) and Olentangy Berlin (14th, 39).

Halliday needed three wins to reach 100 for his career, which he took care of with a pin of Mount Vernon’s Kayden Packard in 1 minute, 53 seconds.

He took an elbow to the face midway through his championship match against Dublin Coffman’s Sammy Moloney before outscoring him 13-10.

“His offense was good, but there’s still stuff we need to work on,” said Kevin Rieman, who coaches Delaware with Josh Lamb. “He gave up some takedowns in those last couple of matches. We’re not in peak condition yet. We’re not going to be there until the end of February or early March. But he’s on the right track to where we want to be.”

Piontkowski has been battling an injury to his left knee for the last week. But it didn’t slow him down, defeating Dublin Scioto’s Adrian Pigg 11-0 in the final.

“I came in a little hurt with my knee, but I felt good throughout the day,” he said. “This is a tough tournament. I got fourth last year, so this is a big improvement. It helps getting ready for districts and sectionals. My goal is to make states. So, it’s a good tournament to see where you’re at and see what I need to work on.”

Erik Wells (heavyweight) finished second, Ryan Davenport (126) was third, Ayden Van Hoose (157) was fourth and Cooper Frye (175) finished fifth to reach the podium for the Pacers.

“I’d say we met or exceeded expectations,” said Rieman, whose team defeated Scioto 41-33 on Thursday to improve to 5-0 in OCC-Capital Division play. “I was not pleased with how we competed Thursday in our dual meet. We had a stern talk with the boys and they really responded today.”

Kurt Mokros (106) and Preston Shuler (113) each finished third and Micah Krenek was fourth to lead Olentangy.

The Bears had a rocky early session, but Luke Martin (126) and J.T. Tompkins (215) battled back and each finished fifth.

“It’s a planned experience and it lives up to it every year,” Berlin coach Josh Heffernan said. “I’m proud of how they responded to the challenge of it. They didn’t start off on the right track early in the tournament. I challenged them and they rose to the occasion and many of them finished very strong.”

The Division I sectional tournaments are Feb. 25 at Marysville, Newark, Upper Arlington and Watkins Memorial followed by the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby and the state tournament March 10-12 at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.

“I would love it if we were winning everything all the time, but you can learn a lot in a loss and a tough day,” Heffernan said. “It’s OK that they had a tough day. Nobody will remember a couple of years from now who placed where. But learning how to handle some of the adversity they faced today … that’s the big medal.”

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