MARION – Lima Central Catholic junior Gavin Caprella knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
But Caprella wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the first wrestling tournament of the season, Caprella defeated Barnesville’s Dakota King in a hard-fought match, 4-2.
On Saturday, the first day of the Division III Ohio High School Athletic Association’s State Wrestling Championships at Marion Harding High School, Caprella had a rematch with King in the quarterfinals in the 113-pound weight class.
Caprella started Saturday off with an impressive 13-2 major-decision over Seneca East’s Hunter Lacy. With that win over Lacy, Caprella recorded his 100th career victory.
Then came the rematch with King in the quarterfinals.
The match went deep into overtime.
Caprella eventually notched a thrilling 3-1 victory over King in an ultimate tiebreaker.
“It was a tough match. It was my first match of the season,” Caprella said about the early-season matchup with King. “I got him 4-2 (early in the season). … It was a good match.”
Caprella knew Saturday’s quarterfinal match with King was going to be a tough battle – something Caprella says he thrives on.
“Every match of the state tournament, or postseason, is all the same mindset – you want to go out there and put points on the board,” Caprella said. “You try to dominate every position, attack every position. It’s all about heart. You have to be tough as nails.”
Caprella (30-3) feels like he is set up pretty well for today’s semifinal against Miami East’s Cooper Shore (32-2). A win over Shore will put Caprella in the championship match later today.
“This is huge. … I’m done for the day,” Caprella said after Saturday’s quarterfinal match. “I get to let my body rest, recover for tomorrow, and get ready for the semis. I’m just really excited about that.”
Columbus Grove duo moving on
Columbus Grove senior Ezra Jones (195) was not only facing the huge challenge of competing at the state tournament, but he also was dealing with a knee injury he suffered at last week’s district tournament at Troy.
That didn’t seem to hamper Jones on Saturday.
Jones won his first two matches on Saturday, including a 4-2 decision over Mogadore’s Tyler Knight in the quarterfinals.
Jones (42-3) will face Oak Harbor’s Wyatt Miller (46-0) in today’s semifinal match.
“I received an injury (last week at districts),” Jones said. “I didn’t think I was going to wrestle today. But the Lord has given me the ability and the strength to be able to do this. I’ve been very blessed.”
Jones said he was confident, going into his quarterfinal match.
“He (Knight) was strong. But I knew if I took him all three periods that I could gas him out. I really train on my endurance, and it paid off,” Jones said.
Jones’ teammate, senior Jeff Meyer, also went 2-0 on Saturday and will be wrestling in a semifinal today.
Meyer (47-2) made quick work of Black River’s Travis Owen in his quarterfinal match. Meyer pinned Owen midway through the first period.
Meyer will face Swanton’s Brodie Stevens (32-2) in his semifinal match.
Criblez heading to semis
Sophomore Eli Criblez (44-4) went 2-0 Saturday in the 285-pound weight class, to advance to today’s semifinals.
“This is huge for me. I’ve been waiting for this since my freshman year,” Criblez said. “It was pretty good competition. It set me up for tomorrow. I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now. I’m looking forward to my next couple matches.”
Criblez is the only Mustang that advanced to the second and final day of competition.
Kade Wireman (138), Chase Miller (160) and Blake Hershberger (170) all went 1-2 on Saturday and were eliminated. Alek Winner (220) went 0-2 and bowed out of the tournament.
DSJ’s Martin still competing
St. John’s senior Chase Martin (51-3) went 2-1 on Saturday and is still wrestling at 170.
Indian Lake’s Pummel still undefeated
Indian Lake senior Hayden Pummel improved to 38-0 on the season by winning his two matches Saturday in the 160-pound weight class.
Pummel will face Rootstown’s Dalton Duvall (38-1) in a semifinal today.
Teammate Lane Mefford (33-5) went 1-2 Saturday and bowed out of the state tournament at 182.
going to the second day
Coldwater’s Caleb Stammen went 2-1 Saturday and advanced to the second day of action.
Bluffton’s Basil bows out
Bluffton’s Kaden Basil (160) went 0-2 Saturday and was eliminated from the tournament.
Tyler Hisey reaches semifinals
St. Marys’ Tyler Hisey (106) will be wrestling in today’s semifinals at Marengo Highland High School.
On Saturday, Hisey (43-2) defeated St. Clairsville’s Gannon Kazmirski 7-5 in his first-round match.
Then, in the quarterfinals, Hisey knocked off Perry’s Zach Bellissimo 11-4 to advance to the semifinals.
Hisey will take on Graham’s Jordan Beric (34-1) in the semifinals.
Wapakoneta’s Colin Mellot (113) went 1-2 and bowed out of the D-II state tournament with a 37-4 record for the season.
Celina’s Landon Engle (43-7) went 1-2 on Saturday at 126 and was eliminated from the state tournament.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.