COLUMBUS — Last year as a freshman, Columbus Grove’s Jeff Meyer was nearly overwhelmed at the state wrestling tournament.
This year, Meyer has a different mindset.
In Thursday’s first-round action of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center, Meyer, a Division III heavyweight, showed he was determined to do more than just make an appearance as he won his opening-round bout, defeating Bloomdale Elmwood’s Kain Brossia, 7-1. The state tournament continues today and Saturday.
Wrestlers who won first-round matches Thursday, stay alive in the championship bracket of the tournament. Wrestlers who went 1-1, still have a chance to wrestle back and eventually place in the top eight spots of their respective weight classes.
“I was really nervous,” Meyer (44-8) said about Thursday’s first-round match. “But it was nothing like last year. The first match (at last year’s state tournament), I didn’t know what to do. It was a new environment. I had a lot of jitters. I got my head pounded in last year. … I got beat in the first period.
“I want to make a statement this year. I want to get on the podium. I know I can hang with these guys.”
Meyer won the district title last week at Troy.
Coming down with Meyer to the state tournament are his cousins and teammates, brothers Dakota Sargent (195) and Dylan Sargent (220).
Dakota Sargent went 1-1 and advanced. Dylan Sargent went 0-2 and was eliminated from the tournament.
“It’s very big (to win the first match),” Meyer (44-8) said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to get this first match out of the way.”
For Van Wert junior Gabe Steyer (138), who also came into this year’s state tournament as a No. 1 seed, took care of business in a timely manner on the first day of the state tournament.
In Thursday’s Division II first-round match, Steyer (41-2) pinned Minerva’s Ethan Mueller late in the first period. Steyer was a state-qualifier last season as well.
“My mindset is good,” Steyer said. “Last year, coming in, I was star-struck by the ‘Schott’, the big crowd and all of that. But this year I feel good. It’s just another regular-season tournament for me. I’m going to take it one match at a time and see what I can do.”
Bluffton senior Deandre Nassar brought his 44-0 record down to the state tournament, and remained undefeated after Thursday’s third-period pin of Richard McFarland from Martins Ferry in the first round of the Division III 182-pound weight class.
Last season, Nassar placed fourth in the 195-pound weight class.
“I wanted to get it done quick,” Nassar said about Thursday’s first-round match. “I went to the third (period). I didn’t get it over before the third, but I got the pin like I wanted. So, it was nice.”
Nassar said he constantly relives last year’s tough loss in the state semifinals.
“Last year, I was really down, losing in the semis, getting my tooth broke and everything,” Nassar said. “I think about it all the time. So, I’m taking it one match at a time. Hopefully, I can get it done this year.”
Ottawa-Glandorf senior Danny Rosales said that despite making it to this year’s state tournament, he still has not wrestled to the level he is striving for. In Thursday’s opening-round match, Rosales (28-6) decisioned Johnstown-Monroe’s Tristan Bush, 6-2 at 182 in D-III.
“I had no jitters. I knew what I needed to do. I knew I got a good week of practice,” Rosales said. “But I haven’t wrestled a good tournament yet. So, this is my last chance to wrestle a good tournament. I have some goals. I have to wrestle my style this whole tournament if I want to get to where I want to be.”
Rosales’ teammates Isaac Hernandez (132) and Matt Schmersal (195) also competed Thursday. Hernandez (34-4) won his first match Thursday by way of a pin against Caldwell’s Collin Wiley. Schmersal went 0-2 and was eliminated.
Rosales placed seventh at last year’s D-III state tournament at 170.
Wapakoneta brought four wrestlers down to Columbus this weekend. After the first day of the tournament, there were two left.
Brenan Knueve wasted no time in ousting his first opponent Thursday. Knueve (35-1) pinned Louisville’s Riley Brendle in 27 seconds. Knueve came in as a No. 1 seed after winning the district title last weekend at Norwalk’s D-II district tournament.
“Brenan came down here (state tournament) last year and went two and out,” longtime Wapakoneta coach Jason Rostorfer said. “He doesn’t like that. He’s been talking about that a lot. No. 1, he has the experience. So, he wasn’t shell-shocked when he walked out of the bullpen (on Thursday). No. 2, he has the motivation to improve on what he did last year.”
Wapakoneta’s Trevor Plaugher (33-5) decisioned Louisville’s Brent Paulus in his first-round bout, 6-1 at 195.
“That was a tough match there,” Rostorfer said about Plaugher’s first-round match. “It was 0-0 for a long time. Trevor has such good leverage, because he is so long. He gives a lot of guys fits.
“This is his first trip down here. I thought he handled the nerves and the atmosphere really well.”
Wapakoneta’s Luke Beach (138) and Colin Mellott (106) both went 0-2 Thursday.
Lima Central Catholic senior Joey Caprella (45-2) started the three-day state tournament on a strong note Thursday as he won by technical fall over Ashland Mapleton’s Jeremy Tracy, 15-0, in his first-round Division III match at 145.
Last year, Caprella placed fifth at the state tournament at 145.
Teammate and second cousin Chase Caprella (21-7) went 1-1 Thursday, to stay alive in the tournament at 132.
Allen East’s Drake Carmean (41-4) recorded a 12-4 major decision over Bellaire’s Joseph Bonfini Thursday. Teammate Garrett Neth (28-2) also won a first-round match Thursday by way of a pin against Genoa Area’s Brian Martin. Heavyweight Brennan Davies (40-11) went 1-1 Thursday to stay alive in the tournament.
Kenton’s Noah Eikenbary (33-3) recorded a hard-fought 3-0 decision over East Liverpool’s Skylor Wooley in the 220-pound weight class in Division II.
Indian Lake’s Hayden Pummel (44-6) ousted Kansas Lakota’s Trevor Franks in his first match, 8-6 in D-III.
Other area wrestlers advancing Thursday were Coldwater’s Brian Chmielewski (D-III, 113, 1-1 on the day), Cory-Rawson’s Deontae’ Davis (D-III, 160, 1-1), Delphos St. John’s Trent Vonderwell (D-III, 220, 1-1), Defiance’s Adalberto Vega (D-II, 220, 1-1).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.