COLUMBUS — The dream of any high school wrestler is to make it to the third and final day of the state tournament.
For 12 area wrestlers, that dream became reality Saturday as the tournament wrapped up at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
After making it to the state tournament twice before and not placing, Lima Central Catholic senior Brandon McCormick finally made it to the third day and finished fourth in the 138-pound weight class in Division III.
After losing Thursday’s opening match to last year’s state runner-up Zane Nelson of Waynedale in a 14-6 major decision, McCormick then reeled off four consecutive wins to put himself in the third-place bout.
Unfortunately, in his third-place match, McCormick had to face Nelson one more time. And like the first time, Nelson won by a major decision — this time, 14-5.
McCormick’s teammate, senior Bobby Sunderhaus nabbed an eighth-place finish at 170. Last season, Sunderhaus finished seventh.
“I wrestled well, but I can’t win them all,” McCormick said. “(Getting) fourth place at the state tournament is not bad at all …I’ll take it.
“It (getting on the podium) was my goal, especially after losing my first match to Nelson and having to battle back and go for third and fourth (place) against him again. I feel pretty good.”
McCormick ends the year 49-5. Sunderhaus finishes 45-10.
Wapakoneta places three
After three years of making it to the state tournament and not getting on the awards podium, Wapakoneta’s John Martin finally got that elusive hardware Saturday when he notched a fifth-place finish in the 106-pound weight class in Division II.
Martin (38-8) began the day with a loss to St. Paris Graham’s Eli Stickley. It was a close match with Stickley leading 5-2 in the third period. However, Stickley was able to catch Martin off-guard and pin him, just 45 seconds into the third period.
Martin defeated Steubenville’s Tariq Wilson in the fifth-place match, 10-8.
Martin, who is headed to Cleveland State University next school year to wrestle, had set some high goals this season.
“I wanted to win the state title, but I didn’t quite get there,” Martin said. “But it felt good to finish off my high school career with a win. It didn’t go as planned, but I’ll take it.”
Martin’s teammates also fared well. Nate Valentine (42-9, 145) finished fifth and Holden Hengstler (25-10, 182) placed sixth.
Martin is the only Wapakoneta wrestler in school history to compete at the state tournament all four years.
Wilson ends stellar career; Conley places
After being pinned in his Division III semifinal match on Friday, Bluffton senior Zach Wilson (152) came back Saturday morning and lost a close match to Greenwich South Central’s Caleb Barnett 5-4, forcing him to wrestle in the fifth-place match.
In his fifth-place match, Wilson controlled his opponent, Upper Sandusky’s Alex Kenner, for a 13-6 victory.
“It’s tough to come back (after a loss) for something that you put your whole heart into,” Wilson said. “You just want it so badly and when you fall a little short of that, it’s a tough thing.”
Wilson’s teammate Josiah Conley placed eighth at 182. Conley, a senior, did not begin to wrestle until his sophomore season.
“It’s been a good run,” Conley said. “I’m happy about what I’ve accomplished. You wish that you can win, but I gave it my all. I’m glad that I got what I got.”
Bluffton coach Jeff Kleman applauded his athletes’ season.
“We brought two guys down here and they are both on the podium. (They are) maybe not where we wanted them, but a state tournament is a state tournament. Anybody can win at any time. There are some really good kids down here.
“We had a good season. It maybe didn’t go exactly the way we wanted, but we’re happy.”
Wilson finishes the season 48-3. Conley ends at 41-13.
Ingram gets seventh
Bath’s Colin Ingram (113, Division III) finished seventh at the state tournament. Ingram (28-7) defeated Loudonville’s Colton Ullman 11-7 in the seventh-place match.
“Colin is a man of few words, but big actions,” Bath coach Clayton Westerbeck said. “He has high expectations. He finished seventh on a win this year. He’s had an outstanding year and he definitely has his eyes set on a higher placing next year.”
Other area places
Delphos Jefferson’s Colin McConnahea (48-3) placed seventh at 195 in Division III. Coldwater’s Justin Post finished seventh at 220 in Division III. Indian Lake’s Heath Lange (41-6, 138) and L.J. Henderson (24-6, 160) both placed fourth in Division II.