By JAMIE BAKER
ELYRIA — It was oh so close.
Findlay High School’s wrestling team needed one more win to clinch Wednesday’s regional semifinal match with Oregon Clay. They just couldn’t get it, as the Trojans fell to their Three Rivers Athletic Conference rivals 32-30 in the Division I Region I semifinals of the OHSAA wrestling team tournament.
Wrestling in the regional semifinal for the first time, it all came down to the final two bouts of the night at 220 and 285 pounds.
After Clay decided to forfeit to Findlay returning state qualifier Zach Bryant at 195 pounds, Findlay led 30-23 with two matches remaining.
Seniors Joey Bower and Jesse Guzman were the remaining Findlay wrestlers in the lineup. Both have been in the program, but haven’t competed with the Trojans’ varsity team before this season.
One win would seal a Findlay victory.
After a scoreless first period, Clay junior Lyle Campbell scored a one-point escape against Bower with 27 seconds to go in the second period. Bower chose the bottom position to begin the third period and was never able to get away allowing Campbell to come away with a 1-0 win.
“I was a little nervous. Joey didn’t wrestle real well against that Clay kid the first time they wrestled, but he was in the match tonight all the way,” Findlay High wrestling coach Ben Kirian said.
“I thought for sure he was going to get an escape. We just kept telling him if you win the match, we win the dual, but he just couldn’t get out.”
That victory trimmed Findlay’s lead to 30-26 heading into the heavyweight bout.
Clay senior Nick Daly, the defending TRAC 285-pound champion and a returning state qualifier, wasted little time taking down Guzman and putting him on his back for a fall in 1:15.
The teams couldn’t have been much more evenly matched.
Overall, the Eagles and Trojans, who lost to Clay 46-21 back in December, split the 14 matches that were contested. It would have been a 1-point FHS loss if not for a team point being deducted against the Trojans for unsportsmanlike conduct at 152 pounds.
The two teams split a pair of overtime matches and split a pair of 1-point decisions as well.
Findlay freshman 113-pounder Andy Cruz rallied from a 5-0 first-period deficit to knock off Clay’s Austin Thompson 7-6 for the Trojans’ first win of the night.
Senior Liam Morrison (126) got the Trojans’ overtime win as he scored a takedown with 17.9 seconds remaining in the extra session against Clay’s Kyle Maville to avenge a pin he suffered to Maville earlier this season.
Findlay senior Seth Douglas was the Trojan on the short end of the other overtime bout.
Douglas and returning state qualifier Garret Anderson were deadlocked 1-1 through regulation and 2-2 through the one minute overtime period and two 30-second tiebreakers. In the third 30-second tiebreaker, called the ultimate tiebreaker in wrestling, Anderson scored an escape with 11 seconds left for a crucial 3-2 win.
In a dual so close, where one match, one point was the difference between winning and losing, it was perhaps the toughest loss of the night for the Findlay.
“Seth lost a tiebreaker at 145 against one of the best kids in northwest Ohio and one of the best kids in the state. It was their turn to get us in that one, I guess,” Kirian said. “Seth’s had a great season and been a great leader for our team all year. He really took that loss hard but we can’t be mad because he wrestled his guts out there tonight.”
Junior Jaden Johnson bumped up to 138-pounds and put together one of his best matches of the year for the Trojans. He used a punishing leg ride to net a pair of nearfalls in scoring a 9-1 major decision against Alex Szigeti.
Two other FHS seniors wasted no times in getting wins.
Boston Dubocq stapled Clay’s Kameron Miller to the mat in 1:40 at 152 pounds. Classmate Josiah Trevino pinned Mike LaVally in 1:53 at 170 pounds.
FHS returning state qualifier Dru Hernandez fell behind early but used second- and third-period takedowns to knock off Clay’s Troy Murphy 5-3 at 160.
In other matches for the Trojans, Mitchell Johnson fell by 15-0 technical fall to Clay’s Jacob Moon at 120 pounds and Jonah Smith dropped a 9-2 decision to Mike Daly at 132.
Freshman Nick Magat, making his varsity debut in subbing for injured junior starter Jeremiah Snider at 182 pounds, was pinned by the Eagles’ Jacob Moon in 1:59.
Any loss as close as Wednesday’s to Clay, who fell 44-23 to host Elyria in the final, is frustrating. But the Trojans learned some valuable lessons and gained some added experience that will benefit them when the postseason begins in a little less than a month.
“I think this class is frustrated a little bit because they feel like they are just that close. We won some of those close matches today and that’s good for our younger kids to experience,” Kirian said.
“Yeah, we lost, but overall, I’m pretty pleased. We’ll go to work and get another chance at them in a couple of weeks.”
Findlay High will be back at home to take on Toledo St. John’s on Friday night in the school’s annual Beauty and the Beast Meet.
OREGON CLAY 32, FINDLAY 30
106 — Tony Pendergraff (OC) won by forfeit.
113 — Andy Cruz (F) dec. Austin Thompson 7-6
120 — Jacob Moon (OC) tech. fall Mitchell Johnston 15-0
126 — Liam Morrison (F) dec. Kyle Maville 6-2 OT
132 — Mike Daly (OC) dec. Jonah Smith 9-2
138 — Jaden Johnson (F) maj. dec. Alex Szigeti 9-1
145 — Garret Anderson (OC) dec. Seth Douglas 3-2 OT
152 — Boston Dubocq (F) pinned Kameron Miller 1:40
160 — Dru Hernandez (Fin) dec. Troy Murphy 5-3
170 — Josiah Trevino (Fin) pinned Mike LaVally 1:53
182 — Jacob Meek (OC) pinned Nick Magat 1:59
195 — Zach Bryant (Fin) won by forfeit
220 — Lyle Campbell (OC) dec. Bower 1-0
285 — Nick Daly (OC) pinned Jesse Guzman 1:15
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