COLUMBUS – First-day jitters can come into play at the state wrestling tournament.
For Wapakoneta, it was all about not letting the nerves get to them in Thursday’s first-round action of the state tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
All four of Wapakoneta’s state qualifiers opened up the three-day tournament with wins in Division II action.
With the first-day victories, all four of the Wapakoneta seniors can breathe a little easier as they advance to today’s championship quarterfinals.
John Martin (106-pound weight class) won his first match with relative ease, recording an 11-3 major-decision over Eaton’s Michael May. Martin (35-6) is a four-time state qualifier.
“I pretty much dominated the match on take downs,” Martin said. “It really wasn’t a close match. Mentally, you just got to take it one match at a time. I just got to stay focused.”
Nate Valentine defeated Dallas Lazear from Athens, 3-2 in the 145-pound championship preliminaries. Valentine (39-7) pointed to the advice that Martin gave him before action began on Thursday.
“He told me to not come out of the tunnel and look around,” Valentine said. “He said to just come out and focus on the match. (The) nerves didn’t get me as bad as I thought they would get me, until I walked out there.”
Holden Hengstler (23-7) defeated Mantua Crestwood’s Kenny Jackson 6-3, at 182. Hengstler said it was special to have all four of them win their opening matches on Thursday.
“It was awesome to do that,” Hengstler said. “I was the last one to wrestle. We were three-for-three and I didn’t want to screw that up. I’m done for the day, so I’m going back to the hotel to rest up and get ready for a long day tomorrow.”
Alec Brown (195) decisioned Blake Owens from Newark Licking Valley, 6-2. Brown (35-5) also pointed to the advice of Martin.
“The biggest thing is that he’s been around us and he knows how we wrestle,” Brown said. “He told us to look at it as just another tournament and wrestle the way we have all year.”
Wapakoneta coach Jason Rostorfer said Thursday’s start to the tournament could not have been scripted any better.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had four wins in the first day. A couple years ago, we had three guys down here and went 3-0. You look at the brackets and try to guess, but you don’t know most of these kids. They’re all going to be tough, or they wouldn’t be here,” Rostorfer said.
WILSON, CONLEY OFF TO GREAT STARTS
Bluffton’s Zach Wilson (46-1), who is a four-time state qualifier and a two-time state placer, started the tournament with an impressive 14-6 major-decision over Orwell Grand Valley’s Sean Szitas at 152 in Division III.
Josiah Conley (182) won his first match, defeating Upper Sandusky’s Tylor Pritchard in a close battle, 7-6. Conley stands 40-10 on the season.
BATH’S INGRAM 1-0
Bath’s Colin Ingram (19-5) won his first match on Thursday, defeating Columbus Bishop Hartley’s Kristopher Hill, 5-3 in Division III first-round action.
DELPHOS JEFFERSON’s McCONNAHEA 1-0
Delphos Jefferson brought three wrestlers to the state tournament.
In Thursday’s first-round action, Colin McConnahea (46-1) opened with a 7-1 decision over Heath’s Gunner Loughman in Division III action. McConnahea will advance to today’s championship quarterfinals.
“It was so much better. …not as much pressure,” McConnahea said. “I went out there like my last match at districts and did really good.”
McConnahea’s teammates, Quinten Wessell (24-5, 220) and Geoff Ketcham (49-5, 285), both went 0-2 on Thursday and were eliminated from the tournament.
LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Both Brandon McCormick (138) and teammate Bobby Sunderhaus (170) lost their first matches on Thursday, but bounced back and won their consolation bouts.
McCormick (46-4) decisioned Edgerton’s Sammy Santa-Rita 8-2 to stay alive in the tournament.
Sunderhaus (44-8) won by default in his consolation match to advance.
COLDWATER’S POST 1-0
Coldwater’s Justin Post (220) won his first match on Thursday to advance to today’s championship quarterfinals. Post (49-3) defeated Middlefield Cardinal’s Caleb Fry 7-3.
Post’s teammate Derek Collett (170) went 0-2 on Thursday.
INDIAN LAKE’S WRESTLERS 2-0
Both Heath Lange (138, Div. II) and L.J. Henderson (160, Div. II) won their opening matches to advance. Lange’s record stands at 38-4 and Henderson is 21-4.
DEFIANCE’S VILLARREAL ADVANCES
Santana Villarreal (126) won his opening match on Thursday. Villarreal (47-7) won a close battle over Indian Creek’s Kyle Moffit, 3-2.
OTHER AREA WRESTLERS ELIMINATED
Shawnee’s Kane Plaugher (132, Div. II); Elida’s Nick Pauff (138, Div. II); Allen East’s Tyler Baker (120, Div. III) and Max McAdoo (160, Div. III); Delphos St. John’s Will Buettner (170, Div. III) and Paulding’s Tyler Ash (220, Div. III) all went 0-2 in the tournament.