Wrestling: First day of state tournament brings out the emotions

Mar. 8—COLUMBUS — Longtime Allen East wrestling coach Mike Abbey summed it up on Friday, the first day of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Wrestling State Championships at Ohio State's Jerome Schottenstein Center, when he said, "They've got to win two (matches) before they lose two to get on the (awards) podium. That's what I've always talked about."

The state tournament runs Friday through Sunday. The top eight placers in each of the 14 weight classes will be on the podium at the end of the weekend and will have earned all-Ohio status.

In Division III, Allen East brought three athletes to this year's state tournament. At the end of the first day, there are two left.

Allen East freshman Jordan Neal dominated his first-round opponent, Rootstown's Tyler Paulus, with a pin in the first period in the 144-pound weight class.

With his first-round victory, Neal (47-2) advanced to the championship bracket. Neal won both sectional and district titles this season.

Neal will face Union Local's Gunnar Gossett (42-9) in his quarterfinal on Saturday.

"Jordan just looked awesome," Abbey said. "He's wrestling tough. If he can stay on his offense, he can be pretty dangerous this weekend."

Neal said he approached the first day of the state tournament like any other tournament.

"I wanted to get it over with — try to use up the least amount of time out there. I just wanted to go out and do what I wanted to do, and then get off the mat," Neal said with a grin.

Allen East senior Brogan Paxson bounced back after a first-round loss on Friday and pinned his second opponent, Collin Sullivan from Fairless, late in the second period in a consolation match at 215 pounds.

Paxson (48-6) will continue to wrestle back in the consolation bracket on Saturday. Paxson did not wrestle last season.

"I really didn't know if I would be in this spot," Paxson said with a grin. "Just to get on the podium is the goal. That would be nice."

Added Abbey, "Brogan had a heck of a comeback there (in Friday's consolation match). He was wrestling hard. He was losing by three (points). Then he hit a big move. He's been working on that for the past couple of weeks. So, that was really nice to see."

Allen East senior Trenton Gatchell (157-pound weight class) went 0-2 on Friday and was eliminated from the tournament. He ended the season with a record of 39-10. Gatchell was a state qualifier last season as well.

Wapakoneta's two grapplers still alive in championship bracket

In Division II, Wapakoneta senior Jace Knous (215) made quick work of his first-round opponent on Friday when he pinned Warren's Kartyr Armstrong midway through the first period.

At last year's Division II state tournament, Knous placed seventh in the 190-pound weight class.

Knous (32-3) will face Clinton-Massie's Elijah Groh (37-4) in a quarterfinal on Saturday morning.

Wapakoneta sophomore Wyatt Buell (175) recorded a 5-1 decision over Benjamin Logan's Kameron Larson on Friday. Buell (52-5) will take on Woodridge's Steven Duffy (48-1) in a quarterfinal on Saturday morning.

This is Buell's first time competing at the state tournament. However, he said that he approached it like any other invitational.

"Everybody always talks about how nerve-racking it is," Buell said. "I tried to use that as an advantage. As soon as we stepped out of the tunnel (at the Schottenstein Center) I was like, 'It's go-time'."

Longtime Wapakoneta coach Jason Rostorfer said they scouted Larson, earlier in the season.

"We saw the Benjamin Logan kid (Larson) over at Coldwater, earlier in the year," Rostorfer said. "Wyatt did not wrestle that day, so we got some film on him. We had a game plan going in, and Wyatt did a good job of executing that. As a sophomore, I think the nerves were in effect a little bit, but he did a good job of getting his first win."

Rostorfer said Knous was pretty confident, coming into this year's state tournament.

"Jace (Knous) came down as an alternate his sophomore year and got to see what it is about. He competed last year and got on the podium. He's focused and he's peaking right now," Rostorfer said.

Knous got a late start to the wrestling season due to a knee injury during the football season.

"It did take a while (to get back in the lineup)," Knous said. "That is a tough injury to get through, but it (his knee) has been through so much already. So, I just knew I had to dog it out and do my best. It took a while to rehab, but I got back. ... I'm at 100 percent now."

St. Marys' duo opens tournament with wins

St. Marys junior Tate Hisey (126), a two-time Division II state placer, did not take long to dispose of his Friday opponent. Hisey pinned Canal Fulton Northwest's Bradyn Wolfe late in the first period.

Hisey (42-2) will take on Logan Elm's Gavin Hoover (48-5) in a quarterfinal on Saturday.

"The first match of almost every tournament is not always the hardest wrestler, but it's the hardest match to wrestle," Hisey said. "You go out there and have to absorb the environment. It's kind of a reset, really. You just try to go out and execute. Once that first match is over, it's kind of smooth sailing for all the other matches."

St. Marys junior Bo Hertenstein (150) pinned West Geauga's Ethan Bartlett in his first-round match on Friday. Hertenstein (38-3), a state qualifier last season, will face Athens' Luke Kaiser (47-3) in a quarterfinal on Saturday.

St. John's Kessen bounces back after early loss

Delphos St. John's sophomore Edward Kessen (D-III, 138) had to battle back after an opening-round loss on Friday. Centerburg's Christopher Marshall defeated Kessen 7-6 in an ultimate tiebreaker.

Kessen (40-7) responded in his consolation match with an 8-3 decision over Rittman's Joey McGuire (38-6).

"We got to fight back and win," Kessen said after his win over McGuire in the consolation match. "That's part of competing at state. You lose matches that you shouldn't lose. ... That happens. Right now, it's survive and advance."


Celina junior Kenzie Miracle went 0-2 on Friday, the second year of the OHSAA-sanctioned girls state tournament. Miracle ended the season with a 35-9 record.

Miracle, who competes in the 105-pound weight class, has competed in both state tournaments. Last season, Miracle finished seventh at 105.

Other Lima area wrestlers that are 1-1 in the tournament

Other area wrestlers that are still alive in the state tournament include Celina's Zach Greber (D-II, 144), Coldwater's Austin Hamilton (D-III, 132), and Kenton's Anthony Hunt (D-II, 157).

Other Lima area wrestlers eliminated on Friday

Other area wrestlers that went 0-2 on Friday included Columbus Grove's Kyle Lathrop (D-III, 165) and Loudon Auchmuty (D-III, 190), Elida's Skyler Kirk (D-II, 138), and Parkway's Landon Younker (D-III, 165).