COLUMBUS — Elyria wrestling fans will want to take care of their bathroom breaks and refreshment runs early tonight.
Three Pioneers earned berths in the Division I state finals Friday night and they will be wrestling back-to-back-to-back.
Sophomores Dylan Shawver (113 pounds) and Mick Burnett (126) won semifinals around senior Brendon Fenton (120) to give Elyria the state championship stage exclusively for about half an hour.
Joining them will be St. Edward sophomore Bryce Hepner — an Avon resident — who won the other Division I 126-pound semifinal, setting up an all-Chronicle-coverage-area championship match between Hepner and Burnett.
“It’s insane,” said Burnett, who won 3-2 over Brecksville’s Jimmy Carmany in the semifinals. “We’ve been talking about doing it all year. Putting three straight guys in the finals is something that’s pretty rare. I think we’re going to get after it (today) and win three titles for Elyria.”
Shawver kicked off the victory string with a tough 5-1 win over Mt. Orab Western Brown’s Brandon Lucas, who is ranked No. 4 in the state.
“Against Lucas I just went out there and did what I’m supposed to do and got the motor started for the rest of the guys,” Shawver said. “I wrestled him at Brecksville in the semis and it was a tight match there, so I knew if I came out here and put on some offense I could do what I usually do.”
Fenton picked up the third semifinal victory of his career with a 1-0 win over Cincinnati LaSalle’s Antoine Allen. He will now try to capture his third state championship tonight against Brecksville’s Julian Tagg, who Fenton beat 3-0 in the district final at Perrysburg last weekend.
“(Allen) knew I was going to be good on top,” Fenton said. “I beat him earlier at the state duals 5-0 and I grinded on him so he had to go on his feet because he didn’t think he could get away. But when he went on his feet I knew he wasn’t going to take me down and I was just going to keep working.”
It’s been a successful weekend overall for the Pioneers, who had all seven state qualifiers win a match, had six of seven place and had the trio reach the finals.
“It’s one of those things where you want to celebrate things like that,” Elyria coach Erik Burnett said. “I try to listen to them. I want to hear what’s going through their heads and if I can help them with something, cool, and if they don’t need my help then I’ll have the best seat in the house.”
Not all Elyria wrestlers had a blast Friday night — or all area wrestlers for that matter.
Pioneers senior Joshua Breeding suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to top-ranked Matt Kazimir of St. Edward, while teammate Farouq Muhammed and Firelands sophomore Payton Burgdorf also lost to No. 1-ranked opponents. Muhammed and Burgdorf were facing the No. 1-ranked wrestlers in the nation.
Burgdorf suffered a 14-5 major decision loss to CVCA’s Jacob Decatur in a Division II 106 semifinal, and Muhammed lost an 18-1 technical fall to three-time state champion David Carr of Massillon Perry.
“Freshman year, district finals, I wrestled Carr and he kind of big-brothered me — it was 16-6,” Muhammed said. “So that kind of drove me when I saw he was on my side of the bracket. I was like, ‘OK, let me go and show him how much I’ve improved,’ but clearly I still have a lot to improve on trying to get to his level.”
Burgdorf said the frustration built during his match with Decatur.
“I thought I’d be able to open up a couple more shots, but it seemed like every time I got into a tie he was able to control my elbows really well,” Burgdorf said. “I wasn’t able to fire off shots once he got there. There were a couple times I felt like I had a couple points on him, but it’s just the little things he’s doing better that’s giving him the edge over me.”
Burgdorf said he was also hampered by their size difference. The Firelands two-time state placer is long and lanky, while the Ohio State commit packs his 106 pounds into a stout, muscular body.
“He has way less surface area to be able to shoot on him,” Burgdorf said. “I couldn’t get past his head or hands. He’s like short enough where it’s all right there in a perfect little area.”
The other unsuccessful area semifinalists, who will battle this morning in consolation semifinals and are guaranteed a podium spot between third and sixth place, were Lutheran West junior and Avon resident Parker Watson, Keystone senior David McCullough and Amherst senior Matt Lee.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter.
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