COLUMBUS — Sometimes a game plan is all you need.
Black River’s Sebastian Vidika was told all year that earning a takedown in the first 20 seconds of the match was the key, and the Pirates senior used the strategy to capture the Division III 106-pound state championship Saturday night.
The advice was given to Vidika from Tim Kline, the father of Pirates coach Corey Kline.
“His dad always preaches to me … if you get that first takedown, you’re going to win the match, you’re going to dominate the match,” Vidika said. “So that’s what was going through my head every time I wrestled this year.
“I feel amazing right now. I’ve been working my butt off for four years straight — during the summers — not taking a break at all … so it’s nice to have finally achieved that goal.”
It actually took Vidika 25 seconds to score the first takedown on Dayton Christian sophomore Hunter Bray, who earned a reversal a few seconds later to tie the match.
But Vidika reversed back to take a two-point lead, then scored another takedown in the second period to lead 6-2 heading into the third.
“Once I got that lead, I just played it smart,” Vidika said. “I didn’t want to give him more than two points — to get back points and take the lead — so I just played it smart from there.”
It was a lesson he learned the hard way during his junior season.
Vidika faced Bray in the third-place consolation match last year, and Bray came away with an 8-4 victory and the higher place on the podium.
“It was nice to get back at him and win the state championship,” Vidika said. “He got a five-point move on me in that match.”
Bray made it interesting early in the third period, picking up a point on a technical violation when Vidika was called for grabbing Bray’s fingers and hitting a takedown midway through the period.
Bray kicked Vidika away to make it 7-5, and the Black River wrestler managed to fend off Bray’s attack over the closing seconds to secure the Pirates’ first state title since Jesse Campbell won the 285-pound title in 2007.
“That was easier (to watch),” said Kline, who sweated out Campbell’s overtime win. “No it wasn’t. He could have been up 14-0 and I still would have been on the edge of my seat until the final seconds clicked off the clock.”
Kline said Friday after Vidika’s semifinal win that his wrestler was impossible to beat when he took a 2-0 lead. Kline said it’s a mixture of the wrestler scoring the takedown gaining a confidence boost and the wrestler being taken down having to jump on the defensive.
“(Vidika) always stays the aggressor … he puts on the heat and he puts (his opponent) in worry mode,” Kline said. “The other guy isn’t sticking to his game plan anymore. He’s too busy trying to figure something out. Now he’s like, ‘(Heck), I’m behind.’”
Vidika’s appearance in the state final wasn’t surprising, it was actually expected.
Vidika was ranked No. 3 in the state by Intermat’s Josh Lowe, and the top two ranked wrestlers were on the other half of the 106-pound bracket.
Vidika breezed to the final with a 44-second pin of West Lafayette Ridgewood’s Colton Bethel in the first round, a 10-4 decision over Haviland Wayne Trace’s George Clemens in the quarterfinals and a 6-2 win over Johnstown Northridge’s Jake Adkins in the semifinals.
But Bray was ranked No. 2 in the state and knocked off No. 1 Drew Mattin with a 2-0 triple-overtime semifinal win. Bray was a sizeable favorite heading into Saturday night’s final, according to Lowe.
“Rankings don’t mean a thing,” Vidika said. “There were many weight classes where the top-ranked guys got knocked out, so I wanted to prove that right on my end, too.”
It was another top performance out of a Black River program that has struggled with numbers over the last few years.
But what the Pirates have lacked in quantity, Kline said they more than make up in quality.
“It’s a little thing called hard work,” he said. “You keep working hard and eventually the guys that stick it out will produce. This has a lot to do with (Vidika’s) character … it’s a testament to his guts.
“He had it … and then he took it.”