COLUMBUS — While earning a trip to the state tournament is one of the greatest feelings a senior wrestler can experience, failing to win a match once you’re there can be a huge letdown.
Two area wrestlers had their backs against the wall after opening defeats but found a way to bounce back for a consolation victory and now sit one win away from a podium finish.
“There’s been 10 state placers before me, so if I can get on that podium it’s a big deal and it’s huge for North Ridgeville,” Jacob Dunstan said. “Going out there, I thought I was going to be filled with anxiety, but I went out there and had so much adrenaline and was pumped up to wrestle hard. I’ve done that so far and I just want to continue that.”
Dunstan opened with a 10-7 loss to Cincinnati LaSalle’s Antoine Allen — ranked No. 4 in the state — before rallying for a 3-1 win over 13th-ranked Ismael Ayoub of Dublin Coffman in his 126-pound consolation opener.
“I just knew that if I got a takedown I won the match,” said Dunstan, who finished fourth at the Westlake sectional and Mentor district. “I’ve been in a few of these consolation matches before, so that was my mindset.”
Avon’s Tommy Sear also survived Day 1. He lost a 10-1 major decision to Stow’s Daniel Patten in his 145-pound opener before winning 10-7 over Mason McHugh of Upper Arlington.
“I’m pretty OK with how the day finished. I feel I wrestled tough,” Sear said of his opener against Patten. “That kid’s ranked No. 2 in the state for a reason. I felt like I went out there and did the best that I could. So I’m just looking forward to taking it match by match, wrestling back and trying to get on the podium.”
Sear’s teammates — Cael Saxton, Jordan Greer and Jack Roesch — all won their championship openers. The four state qualifiers is a program record for the Eagles.
“I think it’s really awesome that not only do we have four down here but we’re all looking to place and all of us made it to Day 2,” Sear said. “That’s something I’m going to enjoy as a good memory for my senior year. But I don’t want to just be happy to be here, I want to be happy on the podium.”
Elyria gained a wave of momentum throughout the first round Thursday, as one wrestler after another put wins on the board.
It all came down to senior Andrew Levis, who at 220 pounds was the last wrestler to compete after an 8-0 team start.
Levis made the Pioneers faithful sweat, taking a 1-all tie late into overtime before securing a takedown in the final 10 seconds to escape with a 3-1 win over Maple Heights’ Charles Medley.
“He was tough, but everybody’s tough here,” Levis said. “It’s no joke down here, so with all of us going 9-0, it’s a pretty big accomplishment.”
Levis said he’s making his first state tournament appearance as a senior mainly because he overthought things the first three years.
“My biggest problem has been my mental aspect, so this year it’s been all about having fun and it’s really paying off,” he said.
Casstown Miami East sophomore Olivia Shore became the first female wrestler to win a championship match after becoming just the second female to qualify to the state tournament, following Mantua Crestwood’s Paige Nemec in 2010.
Nemec went 1-2 that year, but won her consolation opener after losing her championship preliminary.
Shore went down 7-1 in the second period before hitting a headlock takedown for a five-point payday, then hit another takedown and finally hit a third in sudden victory overtime for the 10-8 victory over Crestwood’s Brett Szuhay, a returning state placer.
‘I was just like, ‘Go for it.’ I was down and I had nothing to lose at that point,” Shore said. “Once I got the five, I knew I was back in the match and I just kept pushing the pace.
“I’m better when I’m down. When I’m the underdog, I know I’ve got nothing to lose.”
- Two area Division III wrestlers were eliminated after 0-2 performances Thursday — Elyria Catholic senior Stephen Ferguson III at 152 pounds and Wellington senior Mike Casella at 220.
- St. Edward junior Hudson Poole, an Avon Lake resident, lost his Division I 120-pound opening match, but bounced back for a pin in his consolation opener to advance to Day. 2.
- The 672 individuals vying for a state championship this weekend come from 294 schools, which is seven fewer than last season.
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