COLUMBUS — Elyria opened the first round of the Division I state tournament with six straight wins to finish in sixth place after Thursday’s action at Value City Arena.
Dylan Shawver opened up the run with a 17-1 technical fall victory at 113 pounds, then Mick Burnett (126), Joshua Breeding (132) and Brendon Fenton (120) ripped off consecutive wins before Farouq Muhammed (152) and Matt Zuckerman (138) completed the streak.
Pioneers freshman Jake Evans suffered the team’s lone loss in the first round, but bounced back to pin his opponent in the consolation first round.
“The record’s pretty good,” Elyria coach Erik Burnett said. “I thought Shawver was lights out, I thought Breeding was real good. I think Mick wrestled a little tight.”
Mick Burnett had one of the closest — and most unexpected — matches in the first round, rallying twice against Brunswick freshman Derek Fields, including a takedown in the closing seconds to secure a 5-4 victory.
“He prepared for the match and I have to give credit to Derek … we’ve known each other forever,” Mick said. “He came out tougher than at conference and I really had to put moves together and try and open up my offense to end up winning the match.”
Breeding, who missed the state duals with an ankle injury, said he feels great physically and, more importantly, mentally after his
11-2 major decision win over Sunbury Big Walnut’s Bailey Munday – ranked No. 11 in the state – in his opener.
“That’s what it’s all about. Going out there, being loose and confident and getting a major (decision),” Breeding said. “It’s really fun. Every match … I’m just soaking it in. I’m just basically enjoying every match. There’s no nerves, it’s just my final high school matches and it’s really nice.”
Fenton, who is trying to win his third state championship and earn his fourth state placement, opened with a 5-0 win over Vandalia Butler sophomore Logan Hoskins, who was ranked No. 8 in the state.
Fenton, who won 3-0 over projected state champion Julian Tagg of Brecksville in the district final, again showed his dominance in the top position.
“I’m always just trying to never give up any points and just wrestling like I do,” said Fenton, who will wrestle for Eastern Michigan next year. “I’m ready for (college), it’s going to be nice. With that one-minute rideout point and then also that four backs in college, that’ll be good, too.”
Other Division I wrestlers who joined the Pioneers with Day 1 victories included St. Edward’s Bryce Hepner – an Avon resident – and Amherst senior Matt Lee.
Lee won 10-6 over Uniontown Lake’s Michael Mather – ranked No. 5 in the state – in his opener.
“I pinned him at Maumee Bay in 30 seconds but when you’re wrestling a guy for the second time, he knows what’s coming so I just have to do my best and not do stupid stuff like I did,” Lee said of a move that put him temporarily on his back. “I had that cradle in pretty deep, and I tried to roll through but it didn’t work out. I should have known better. This late in the season you can’t be trying stuff out.”
In Division II, the highlight match came from Keystone’s David McCullough, who came through with a 6-4 win over Bexley senior Eliot Clark, who came into the match as a district champion, unbeaten at 43-0 and ranked No. 7 in the state.
“Nobody knows who I am right now, but you know what … they do now,” McCullough said. “Everybody’s underestimated me all season, now I’m coming up from behind like Lightning McQueen baby.”
McCullough said he got some advice about Day 1 at the state tournament from teammate Justin Ocheltree, who came down last season as a junior.
“He told me that he was really nervous when he first came down here,” McCullough said. “All the lights, all the people and all the amazing wrestlers. Just the history in the building, people like Nathan Tomasello, Bo Jordan, Dean Heil … national champions, Big Ten champions, it’s an honor to wrestle on these mats.”
Also winning openers in Division II were Firelands teammates Payton Burgdorf at 106 pounds and Sean Lipscomb at 285.
Burgdorf, who lost his state opener last year as a freshman, came away with a 9-1 major decision win over Canfield freshman Ethan Fletcher, ranked No. 14 in the state.
“Last year I never had that experience, walking out in front of all the lights,” Burgdorf said. “This year I knew what to expect walking through the tunnel. I feel like last year prepared me for not physically but mentally walking out onto the mat.
“I’m feeling the pressure because people are starting to know who I am. So every match I feel like I need to prove something for the level that I am.”
In Division III, first-round winners included Edison junior Jordan Keegan – a Vermilion resident – and Lutheran West junior Parker Watson – an Avon resident.
Watson eked out a 9-7 win over New Paris National Trail sophomore Peyton Lane, ranked No. 8 in the state.
“It was brand new for me. I was just standing in that tunnel taking it all in,” Watson said. “I’m happy to be here, but I’m trying to get that mindset out of my head. I want to get greedy and get on that podium.”
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