Three area wrestlers notch wins in place matches

Mar. 10—COLUMBUS — Allen East freshman Jordan Neal was hoping for a rematch.

And he got it.

After losing Saturday's Division III quarterfinal match in the 144-pound weight class to Union Local's Gunnar Gossett, 13-11, Neal faced Gossett in Sunday's fifth-place match on the third and final day of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Wrestling State Championships at Ohio State's Jerome Schottenstein Center.

This time, Neal did not give Gossett any opportunities to counter his aggressive style of wrestling.

Neal was in control throughout Sunday's rematch with Gossett as he led 11-2 with seconds remaining in the match. However, with time running down, Gossett went down with an injury, which immediately halted the match.

With the fifth-place finish, Neal became the first ever freshman in school history to place at the state wrestling tournament.

"I didn't wrestle aggressively at all," Neal said about Saturday's quarterfinal loss to Gossett. "So, I knew I had to come out today and attack, attack, attack. ... That's what I did.

"I knew what I had to do. I knew I was going to see him again. I knew I had to come out aggressive and not let him attack me. ... I had to attack him. So, I knew what I had to do, and I capitalized."

Neal said he was confident that he could place at the state tournament, despite being a freshman.

"I put the work in every day, and I just battled," Neal said. "I felt like I could come out and place. I was hoping to win it, but things didn't fall the way I wanted."

On his trek to this season's state tournament, Neal won sectional and district titles.

Neal started out Sunday with a hard-fought 5-4 loss to Waynesville's Mark Ellis. With that loss, Neal dropped into the fifth-place match, where he faced Gossett.

Longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey praised Neal on how he faced adversity this weekend. Neal ended his freshman campaign with a record of 50-4.

"It was an awesome season for him. He wrestled back today, really, really well," Abbey said. "I was really impressed with yesterday's match after he lost in the quarters. That dream of being in the finals is gone — and you have a lot of pressure. It's hard coming off that loss and to come back and get that win in the second-round consolations. Then, he came in today and wrestled really well. So, I'm proud of him. It's our first freshman (state-placer), and he has a chance to do something really special in the next few years."

Kessen makes the podium

Delphos St. John's sophomore Edward Kessen started this weekend's Division III state tournament with a first-round loss in the 138-pound weight class.

However, Kessen battled back in the consolation bracket and ended the three-day tournament with a victory in the seventh-place match.

Kessen (42-8) defeated Gibsonburg's Antonio Salazar for seventh, 4-3.

Kessen lost Friday's opening match of the state tournament to Centerburg's Christopher Marshall in a 7-6 ultimate tiebreaker. Marshall went on to place second on Sunday.

Last season, Kessen qualified for the state tournament but did not place.

"The big lights didn't bother me as much this year," Kessen said after notching the win in Sunday's seventh-place match. "I'm never satisfied. I really think I could have done better. We have a lot to work on. We'll try to do better next year."

Added St. John's coach Brent Gable, "At the beginning of the year, if you told me that we would be here, I'd be happy with that. Crazy things happen at the state tournament. That first match, we're right there, and that kid ended up making the finals. Like he (Kessen) said, 'We're never satisfied'. But it's a good feeling to place as a sophomore."

Greber ends career with a podium finish

Celina's Zach Greber wrapped up his senior season with a seventh-place finish in the 144-pound weight class in Division II.

Greber (47-9) pinned New Lexington's Harrison Ratliff in the seventh-place bout.

"It was higher than I expected," Greber said after notching seventh. "I wasn't even supposed to be here. But I wrestled hard, practiced hard and got here."