TROY — The consolation semifinals.
A wrestler wins this round, they are guaranteed a top-four spot in their respective weight class and a berth at the state tournament.
If they lose, their only hope is to win the next match, place fifth and be a state alternate.
At this weekend’s Division III district tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena, many wrestlers experienced this roller-coaster ride of emotions.
For Allen East, it was a round that resulted in four state qualifiers. In all, the Mustangs had six athletes qualify for the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center, which runs this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Included in the six state qualifiers for Allen East is one district champion. Garrett Neth (44-1) defeated Versailles’ Isaac Grilliot, 5-0, in the championship match of the 195-pound weight class.
For Neth, winning a district title Saturday was bittersweet. This will be the third trip to state for the senior.
“I’m pretty happy about it,” Neth said. “There is a way bigger goal this time; and I think it’s coming into play right now. … That’s the goal (to win a state title).”
Along with Neth, Allen East’s Drake Carmean wrestled flawlessly all the way up to their respective title matches. However, Carmean lost to Wayne Trace’s Hunter Long (43-1) in the championship match at 126 pounds. Long pinned Carmean (44-4), late in the second period.
Last year, Carmean placed sixth at the state tournament in the 120-pound weight class. The Allen East junior is looking forward to this coming weekend’s return to the state tournament.
“It feels pretty good,” Carmean said. “… Just to know that I’ve secured my spot. But now, I just need to get back in the room and get ready. It’s the biggest week.”
The state qualifiers for Allen East, who had to wrestle back in the consolations, included Kade Wireman (fourth, 138), Blake Hershberger (fourth, 160), Eli Criblez (third, 220) and Brennan Davies (fourth, 285).
With its stellar performance this weekend, Allen East finished third as a team. There were 51 schools represented at the Troy district.
“We got six (wrestlers) out and I had another kid place sixth. … It was a record for us,” longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey said. “We are so proud.
“We came up a little short of getting the district (first-place) trophy today. But we brought 13 guys down – first time ever to get everyone down to districts. Then to get six of them out, and over half of them to place, is pretty darn awesome.”
Last season, Allen East got four athletes to the state tournament. This season, the Mustangs set the school record by getting six wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament.
Troy Christian won the district team title in the two-day tournament at Troy, scoring 170 points. Xenia Legacy Christian (148) was second, while Allen East came in third (134.5). The next-best area finish was Bath, which came in 11th with 45 points.
The emotions were running wild during the consolation semifinals, which are usually referred to as the “go-to matches”.
Freshman Wireman (43-9) was one of those Allen East grapplers who battled back after an earlier loss, and won his consolation semifinal.
“Coming into it, I was a little nervous,” Wireman said. “But I came in and wrestled like I did at sectionals, and maybe even a little better.
“It was tough, losing that 4-3 match (semifinal loss to Versailles’ Carson Bey). It made me a little mad. But it’s something I just had to move on from. I’ll work harder and try to get better.”
Hershberger (48-8), the 160-pound junior for Allen East, found himself in a hole Saturday, when he lost his second-round match. Hershberger then had to reel off three consecutive wins to advance to the state tournament.
“It’s so nerve-racking,” Hershberger said. “You’ve worked this entire season to get to this point, then it hits you. … The adrenaline is pumping and all the emotions are flowing.”
For Criblez (16-6), a freshman, being on the big stage isn’t anything new. Last season, Criblez finished second at the middle school state tournament.
“It (consolation) made me strive to push even more,” Criblez said.
For Allen East’s heavyweight, Davies, it will be a return to the Jerome Schottenstein Center this coming weekend. Davies (46-8) will be heading to the University of Findlay next school year to play football as a lineman.
“We worked so hard all year in the (wrestling) room, leading up to this tournament,” Davies said.
Kenton senior Noah Eikenbary notched a district title at Troy. In Saturday’s title match in the 220-pound weight class, Eikenbary (31-4) pinned Mechanicsburg’s Caden Coleman midway through the third period.
Last season, Eikenbary made it to the state tournament, as he competed in Division II. This season, Kenton dropped to Division III.
“It was a good experience last year. … I’m really glad to be able to go down there again,” Eikenbary said.
Columbus Grove junior Jeff Meyer (42-4) made quick work of Benjamin Logan’s Cadman Roose in the 285-pound finals match, by pinning him in just 46 seconds.
“It’s really big,” Meyer said about winning the district title and going to the state tournament as a No. 1 seed. “Being a No.1 seed, I’ll face a No. 4 seed from another district, and that will hopefully put me in a good spot.”
Bath senior Zachary Simpson will be making his first trip to the state tournament. He also was one of those wrestlers that had to wrestle back on Saturday. Simpson (28-4) placed third at 182 on Saturday.
“I knew this district would be hard,” Simpson said. “I knew I had to work hard and get through as many matches as I possibly could.”
Chase Martin of Delphos St. John’s also was one of those athletes who had to wrestle back after an earlier loss this weekend. Martin (38-6) placed fourth at 170.
In his consolation match, Martin defeated Columbus Grove’s Ezra Jones in sudden-victory overtime, 4-2.
“I’ve been working hard all week with my partners Mark (Wrasman) and Mason (Vonderwell). … This is crazy,” Martin said with a big smile.
The Caprella bothers – sophomore Gavin, and senior Chase – both finished in the top four spots, and qualified for the state tournament.
Chase Caprella (34-3) lost to Troy Christian’s Ethan Turner in the title match at 132, 8-2. This will be the elder Caprella’s fourth trip to the state tournament.
“Walking out of here as a (No.) 2 (seed) is not ideal, but it’s better than a third or fourth,” Chase Caprella said. “This was my first time at making the finals in the district tournament.”
Last year, the younger Caprella finished fifth at the district tournament. This weekend, Gavin Caprella (35-2) finished third at 106.
“I haven’t been quite myself this weekend,” Gavin Caprella said. “I was wrestling a little sloppier than usual, but I got the job done.”
Indian Lake’s Hayden Pummel won his title match at 160.
PERRYSBURG — Lima Senior’s Aaron Bowsher (145 pounds) was eliminated, losing his two matches.
NORWALK — Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer won the 138-pound title. St. Marys finished 10th in the team standings with 60.5 points. Bellevue (138.5) won the team title.
Wapakoneta’s Colin Mellott (106) and Evan Kaeck (220) and St. Marys’ Trevor Hisey (113) each finished second. St. Marys’ Tyler Hisey (106) was third. The top four in each weight class advanced to state.
NAPOLEON — Bluffton’s Thayne Kleman (106) finished third. Also advancing to state with a fourth-place finish was teammate Kaden Basil (138).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.