BOWLING GREEN — It’s called the “go-to” match.
It’s the one match of the district wrestling tournament that puts everyone on the edge of their seats.
The winner of that match — in the consolation semifinal round — moves a wrestler into the third-place match, guaranteeing a trip to the state tournament. The top four placers in each weight class at districts advance to the state tournament. The state tournament will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
At Saturday’s Division II district tournament at Bowling Green State University, a few local wrestlers battled their way back in the infamous match en route to stamping their tickets for next weekend.
Shawnee’s Kane Plaugher was forced to wrestle back after losing his semifinal match to Elida’s Nick Pauff in the 132-pound weight class. Pauff went on to win the title, while Plaugher ended up in fourth place by the end of the day.
“It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been trying to accomplish this for a long time,” Plaugher said. “For me to finally make it down there is something I’ve wanted all of my life.”
There were no secrets between Pauff and Plaugher.
“Me and Kane have wrestled throughout the years,” Pauff said. “We’ve always been wrestling partners. This is the first year that we’ve actually had to battle it out against each other. We kind of look to each other as brothers, for support and everything. When it comes down to a match like that, it’s really hard to throw out the fact that you know the kid so well. I just had to wrestle like I knew how to wrestle and let it take care of itself.”
Making it to the state tournament has always been a goal of Pauff’s. This is the first time for the senior to make it to the state tournament.
“I’m pretty stoked because this is what I’ve been working for since I was 5 years old,” Pauff said. “This is like a dream come true right now and everything else is like icing on the cake.
“This is huge — going into state and being the No. 1 seed. It gives me a fourth-seed (opponent) and now I’m looking to place at state.”
Wapakoneta sends four to state
Wapakoneta is sending four wrestlers to the state tournament. Holden Hengstler (second, 182), Alec Brown (second, 195), Nate Valentine (third, 145) and John Martin (third, 106) all advanced out of the district tournament.
For Martin, it will be the fourth time he has been to Columbus to compete. The BGSU district has been touted as the toughest district in Division II. Martin certainly had his hands full throughout the two-day tournament.
“The top five (in the state at 106) are here,” Martin said. “I had a tough semifinal match (loss), but I came back and wrestled pretty well.”
Despite finishing third, Martin feels he has a chance to be at the top of the podium at Columbus next weekend.
“I’m just going to take it one (match) at a time,” he said.
As a team, Wapakoneta finished fifth. The Redskins had seven wrestlers compete at the district tournament.
“Bringing seven in and getting four out — we’ll take that,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Rostorfer said, “especially the four that got out were all seniors. They get to finish their career in Columbus together.”
Hefner, Contreras finish fifth
Shawnee’s Dylan Hefner (170) and Van Wert’s Terrin Contreras (285) both finished fifth in their respective weight classes, earning state alternate spots.