COLUMBUS — It’s all about getting to the third day of the state wrestling tournament.
That’s the goal of every high school wrestler.
If a wrestler is still competing in the state tournament by the third and final day, then they’re assured a spot on the awards podium Saturday night and will earn all-Ohio status.
Placing in the top eight spots of their respective weight classes and getting on the podium is the goal for most.
For some, stepping onto the very top step of the podium at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State, is the ultimate goal.
Bluffton senior Deandre Nassar is one step away from completing this accomplishment.
Last season, Nassar lost in the semifinals and eventually finished fourth in the 195-pound weight class in Division III.
Friday night, Nassar defeated Barnesville’s Brylan Clouse 3-1, on a take down in the waning moments of the semifinal match in the 182-pound weight class. Nassar (47-0) will face Carey’s Tanner May (47-2) in tonight’s championship bout.
“I knew I had to get it done,” Nassar said, in reference to Friday’s dramatic win in the semifinals. “With a few ticks left on the clock, I knew I had to score. So, I laid it all out, and ended up getting a two (-point score).”
Since last season, Nassar has been totally focused on coming back to Columbus and redeeming himself.
“I worked really hard this year, because of last year (loss in semifinals),” Nassar said. “I’ve always wanted to be in the finals, since I was a little kid.”
Added longtime Bluffton coach Jeff Kleman, “He had his goal set to get to the finals this year. He’s worked really hard. We’re really proud of him. He did a great job. It (semifinal win) was maybe a little closer than we wanted. But a win is a win, and he’s in the finals.”
There were three other area wrestlers who competed in their respective semifinal matches Friday night, but were defeated. Those three athletes can still possibly finish as high as third place today, when competition resumes.
Allen East junior Garrett Neth (Division III, 195) made it to the semifinals Friday night, but lost to Liberty Center’s Caleb Carpenter, 6-4.
Neth’s path to the semifinal wasn’t easy.
In Friday’s quarterfinal match against Columbiana’s Nathan Whitehead, Neth (29-3) put Whitehead on the mat with just four seconds left in the match to record the pin.
Lima Central Catholic senior Joey Caprella won by major decision, 8-0, in his quarterfinal bout against Delta’s Dawson Swicegood on Friday.
Then in his semifinal match, Caprella lost to Ashtabula St. John’s Nick Burgard, 11-5. Caprella (46-3) will try to finish as high as third, when he wrestles back today.
Columbus Grove sophomore Jeff Meyer recorded a late pin in his quarterfinal match, to advance to the semifinals Friday. Meyer put Newark Catholic’s Liam Kirkpatrick on his back with 36 seconds remaining in the match.
However, in his semifinal match, Meyer was pinned by St. Joseph Central Catholic’s Noah Price. Meyer (45-9) can still finish as high as third, depending on today’s performance.
“I just have to forget about it,” Meyer said about his tough loss. “(I just have to) move on tomorrow. I have two more years to get a championship.”
Allen East sophomore Drake Carmean won his consolation match Friday, after losing his quarterfinal match earlier in the day to Gates Mills Hawken’s Jackson Reineke, 8-7. Carmean (43-5) still has a chance to finish as high as third, depending on how he does today.
“It feels amazing, coming back after going 1-2 last year,” Carmean said. “To come back and still be in the running for third is amazing.”
Wapakoneta has two wrestlers who will medal today.
Senior Trevor Plaugher is making the most out of his first trip to the state tournament. Plaugher went 2-1 and will be on the podium tonight. Plaugher started the day, losing his quarterfinal match to Bishop Hartley’s Griffin Rathburn, 5-2.
“I normally wrestle better in the consolations anyways,” Plaugher said. “So, it wasn’t that tough (to wrestle back). I was very nervous before my quarterfinal match. I think that really affected the way I wrestled.”
Plaugher’s teammate, Brenan Knueve, lost his quarterfinal match as well, but will be on the podium tonight.
Knueve lost to Graham’s Johnny Shafer in the quarterfinals in sudden victory, 3-1.
“It’s my second loss to the same kid (this year),” Knueve (36-2) said. “I was a little nervous before the match, but I knew that I can wrestle with him. It just didn’t go my way at the end of the match.”
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Danny Rosales (D-III, 182) and Isaac Hernandez (D-III, 132) are still alive in the tournament.
Rosales still has a chance to finish as high as third. Hernandez will wrestle in the seventh-place match today.
“It’s more of a mental thing, because I let it get in my head; and I just didn’t wrestle my hardest, I guess,” Hernandez said, after he lost a tough semifinal match in the waning moments. “I just have to do everything I can to win.”
Columbus Grove junior Dakota Sargent (11-9) was eliminated Friday in the 195-pound weight class.
“Coming down, I had a good draw,” Sargent said. “But in the first round, I just ran out of gas. Then I came back and won my second-round match. I felt pretty confident coming in today. We’ll be back next year.”
Dakota’s twin brother Dylan (220) made it to the state tournament, but went 0-2.
Columbus Grove coach Eric Siefker said his three young grapplers that made it to the state tournament, have a very bright future.
“This is the first time for our school to get three kids down here on the same weekend. That’s pretty good,” Siefker said.
Delphos St. John’s senior Trent Vonderwell went 1-2 this weekend (D-III, 220) and was eliminated from the tournament. Vonderwell was pinned by Troy Christian’s Nick Baker, early in the second period in Friday’s consolation match. It was a close match until Baker got the take down, early into the second period.
“I wrestled him (Baker) at districts. He beat me there, too,” Vonderwell (37-14) said. “I just made a mistake there. That happens in wrestling. One mistake can cost you the match. Everything depends on who gets the better move.”
Coldwater senior Brian Chmielewski (D-III, 113) will be competing for a possible seventh-place finish today. This is Chmielewski’s first trip to the state tournament.
“A loss is a loss,” Chmielewski said. “There is nothing you can do about it. You just have to get the next best thing. So, that’s what I’m going to do.”
In Friday’s quarterfinals, Kenton’s Noah Eikenbary lost to last year’s D-II state champion at 220, Tyler Stein, in a major decision, 10-2. Eikenbary then was defeated in the consolations by Defiance’s Adalberto Vega 6-4, and was eliminated. Vega will compete in the seventh-place match today.
Indian Lake’s Hayden Pummel (D-III, 160) will wrestle in todays’ seventh-place match.
St. Mary’s Noah Vogel was scratched from the D-II state tournament before the tournament began, after failing his skin check on Thursday. Vogel had qualified for the state tournament in the 170-pound weight class.