COLUMBUS — Division III begins the on-mat action at the state tournament, and the area’s D-III wrestlers had a rough go of it.
In five opening-round matches, Division III area wrestlers went 1-4. Black River senior Sebastian Vidika pinned Ridgewood’s Colton Bethel at 106 pounds for the lone win.
But the four wrestlers who lost their openers — Elyria Catholic’s Stan Bleich and Jerot Schill and Lutheran West’s Tim Mecklenburg and Jake DeLorge — bounced back to win consolation first-round matches to advance to Day 2.
“I didn’t wrestle well, truthfully,” DeLorge said of his 7-5 win over Archbold’s Lincoln Parsley. “But at this time of the year, a win’s a win. You take what you can get.”
Mecklenburg, who was a state qualifier as a freshman, broke a three-match losing streak on the Columbus mats.
“It feels really good,” he said. “I came off the mat after that first match and I told myself that I could have done better. I could have won that match if I wrestled like I knew I could.
“But it’s great to finally get that first win down here. I’ve been working hard for it.”
The wrestlers need one more win this morning to guarantee a third day and a spot on the podium.
“I’m looking at it as the next match is just as big as the go-to (state) match at districts,” DeLorge said. “I didn’t just want to come here, I came to place. So it’s the most important match of my career you could say.”
Avon Lake sophomore Joey Bernosky was the first area wrestler eliminated from this year’s state tournament, but the Shoremen standout knows he has a lot of wrestling ahead of him.
“I definitely needed to make it to state this year, just to see what it was like,” he said. “I think it will be good for me going into next season.”
Bernosky dropped a tough 3-1 decision in his opening match with Hilliard Davidson senior Bobby Smith — ranked third in the state according to Intermat’s Josh Lowe — and then dropped a 5-2 decision to Cincinnati LaSalle junior John Shirkey in his consolation opener.
“That last match was a little upsetting, I think I could have wrestled better,” he said. “But I felt good about the first match … I gave it all I had.”
Three dog tales
Olmsted Falls’ three wrestlers went in three directions. Adam Salti won his 138-pound first-round match, Noel Caraballo lost his
220-pound opener but bounced back to win his consolation first-round match and heavyweight Jordan Lee lost two matches and was eliminated from the Division I field.
“It was important that I bounce back because I knew I could have won that first match,” Caraballo said.
Caraballo was pinned by Loveland’s Seth Brennock with two seconds left in the opener, then earned a 5-3 decision over Uniontown Lake’s Grant Martin in the consolation bracket.
“That was very important because now that I know I can win down here I can expect to do some damage down here the next two years,” the sophomore said. “I’m just going to stick to my game plan now and keep attacking the legs. I think if I do that, I’ll get on the podium.”
Lee declined an interview request after his second loss.
After being pinned by Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Jonathan Jones in the first round, Westlake senior Yousef Mustafa rallied for a 5-1 win over Maple Heights’ Monterol Johnson.
“It’s real hard to rebound (from a loss), especially when you shoot for the moon,” Mustafa said. “My goal was to go to the state finals. But now I don’t want to go 1-2, I want to get on that podium. So I’m going to come out (today) and walk on that mat like I own it.”
- The Amherst Comets have a pair of new mats being used for the state tournament this weekend, and Black River’s Sebastian Vidika and Elyria Catholic’s Stan Bleich were the first to wrestle on them.
- Massillon Perry led the Division I race with 31 points, St. Paris Graham led Division II with 35 points and Delta led Division III with 31 points.
- All three area wrestlers from St. Edward avoided Day 1 eliminations. North Olmsted’s Gabe Dzuro won his opener, while Sheffield Lake’s Kevin Khoma and Olmsted Falls’ Parker Knapp won consolation matches.