COLUMBUS — Getting to the high school state wrestling tournament is one of the biggest achievements in the sport.
To win a state championship is the pinnacle.
This weekend, three area wrestlers fought their way to Saturday’s state title matches in their respective weight classes at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Unfortunately, all three wrestlers lost their title matches and had to settle for second place.
Delphos St. John’s senior Wes Buettner lost to Middletown Madison’s Nick Svarda 7-5 in Saturday’s Division III championship match in the 195-pound weight class. Last season, Buettner was a state-qualifier in the 170-pound weight class.
“I went out there every match, gave it my all and stayed aggressive. But, I just needed one more,” Buettner said.
Buettner (46-5) had the fortune of ending his high school career with his father, Keith, sitting in the coaches’ corner during his state title match. Keith has been an assistant coach at St. John’s for the past eight years. He also was a state-qualifier in wrestling in the mid-1980s while attending St. John’s.
Wes said his father gave him some advice before Saturday’s title match.
“He told me to go out there and give it my all,” Wes said. “He said to have no regrets, no matter what happens, win or lose. He said to just keep attacking and I would be fine.”
For his father, the trek to the state tournament was one that began a long time ago.
“It’s been a fun ride,” Keith said. “He left it all on the mat. …We all know that, and I’m awfully proud.”
St. John’s head coach Derek Sterling said Buettner is a special type of athlete.
“Having a guy like Wes on your team is amazing. Every person who coaches wants a guy like that. I just appreciate the fact I was able to coach him and get down here to experience this,” Sterling said.
Lima Central Catholic had two wrestlers that competed for state titles Saturday.
For LCC’s Hunter Lucas, it was an opportunity to avenge a loss he suffered a week ago at the Division III district tournament at Troy in the 113-pound weight class.
In front of Lucas on Saturday night was Dayton Christian’s Tommy Hoskins, who defeated Lucas in last week’s district final.
For three periods Saturday, neither Lucas or Hoskins could gain a distinct advantage.
However, a point scored on an escape by Hoskins in the first period proved to be enough as Hoskins slipped out with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Lucas.
“It’s a tough loss,” LCC coach Nick Sanchez said. “There are things we need to work on, but we’re fortunate enough to be a part of this. He has another year left, and we can go out, work on things and get better. It’s a good opportunity. We will learn from it, move forward and keep fighting.”
For Lucas (27-3), it’s the second time competing at the state tournament. Last season as a sophomore, he finished fourth in the 106-pound weight class in Division II, while attending Shawnee.
Sanchez is confident that Lucas will rebound from this tough loss.
“It’s going to keep him hungry. Right now, he’s going to be a little down on himself. But, that’s the best part about it – you get down, then you get right back up. That’s what we try to teach. He’s going to be hungry for next year.”
Lucas felt confident that he could avenge his district title loss to Hoskins.
“I was right there,” Lucas said. “The kid’s very tough on top, but I should have went out there and been more aggressive and taken more shots. But, it’s behind me now. There’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to work harder for next year.”
In the Division III championship bout at 182 pounds, LCC’s Jack Huffman went up against Ohio State-bound and undefeated Kollin Moore from Creston Norwayne.
Moore (51-0) controlled the match from the start, ending the match with a 23-8 win by technical fall.
“Losing in the finals is obviously not the way you want to go out,” Huffman said. “But, I still wrestled a good tournament. I’m still proud of the way I wrestled. I’m proud of the fact that I made it to the finals. I wrestled as hard as I could and that’s all I can ask of myself.”
Sanchez knew Huffman (48-7) had the potential to take it to the next level. Last season, Huffman placed seventh in the 195-pound weight class.
“The biggest thing is that I knew he had all the attributes,” Sanchez said. “He has great hips. He understands position well. But, we had to work on his offense. Each week, all those morning practices and afternoon practices and putting in the extra stuff with our coaching staff, really helped out.
“I knew we had the opportunity to get to the state finals. Unfortunately, we had a tough draw with Kollin Moore. We knew we had our hands full. But, he battled, never gave up and kept a positive attitude.”
In Division II, Wapakoneta sophomore Tyler Copeland (52-7) placed fifth Saturday in the 132-pound weight class in his first-ever state-tournament appearance.
Copeland’s teammate, sophomore Landon Hall (47-8), placed sixth in the 182-pound weight class.
“Landon and Tyler did something that we haven’t had a sophomore do, and that is place in a state tournament,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Rostorfer said. “They have two more years. Landon made it last year, and then this year he placed. It’s not what he wanted, but we will take that.”
Dayton Christian won the Division III team title with 161.5 points. LCC (37.5) was ninth, Delphos St. John’s (21.5) was 25th and Ada, Bluffton and Paulding all tied for 80th with one-point each.
St. Paris Graham Local won the Division II team title with 250 points. Wapak (25) tied for 18th. Elida (2) finished in a tie for 68th.