By JAMIE BAKER
It’s go time.
And Carey sophomore Tanner May knows it.
May, Ottawa-Glandorf’s Daniel Beemer and Ada’s Chase Sumner, the area’s only return state placers, will be looking to climb the ladder when the 80th OHSAA state wrestling championships begin today in Columbus.
May, a sophomore who was sixth at state at 182 pounds as a freshman dropped a weight class to 170 pounds for the postseason, to enhance his state placement potential.
“State is a whole ‘nother level than districts, just like you have to be more prepared to go hard at districts than sectionals,” said May, one of seven sophomores or freshmen on the bracket at 170.
“It’s time to step it up. I can’t wait to get back there. It’s what you work all year for and it’s a lot of fun. I have a lot more matches under my belt than I did last year when I went to state. I think I’ll be much more prepared this year.”
May (42-6) takes on Lorain Clearview junior Julian Colbert (41-9) in his opener. There will be plenty of familiar faces for area wrestling fans at 170. Ottawa-Glandorf senior Danny Rosales (29-7) is back at state for the second straight year and will take on Richmond Edison’s Ethan Pappas in the first round.
Patrick Henry sophomore T.J. Rhamy (29-10) will square off against Ashtabula St. John’s sophomore and returning state champ Jacob Lagoa (35-2). Tiffin Calvert’s Connor Kwiat (30-6) will make his second appearance at Value City Arena and will wrestle Smithville two-time state placer Riley Smucker (16-2) to open the tournament.
May has a bit of advice for Rhamy and the other area first-timers headed to Columbus.
“Just be prepared, it’s double the stage the district is. Be ready and have fun,” he said.
Beemer, one of three O-G wrestlers that will be competing this weekend, enters the tournament unbeaten for the second straight year as he too dropped a weight class this season to 182 pounds.
Last year, the Ottawa-Glandorf senior was 37-0 before suffering his first loss of the season, a 5-1 defeat in the 195-pound state semifinal by eventual state champ Pymatuning Valley’s Gaige Willis. A fifth-place finisher at state as a sophomore, Beemer, who will continue his wrestler career at Ashland University, ended up fourth a year ago, the highest finish ever by an O-G wrestler.
If Beemer follows last year’s route he could face Apple Creek Waynedale state placer Logan Stanley (56-0), what would be the only state semifinal battle between unbeaten wrestlers.
Sumner, meanwhile, will also be looking to earn his third state meet medal. The only state placer in Ada’s short wrestling history, he has a 32-3 record after finishing fourth as a sophomore and gutting out an 8th-place finish last season on a fractured ankle.
He’ll open the tournament with a match against Fremont St. Joseph senior Nate Vasquez (41-7).
Here are some other tidbits about this year’s state tournament.
THRICE AS NICE: Ottawa-Glandorf and Patrick Henry lead area schools with three wrestlers competing in Columbus this season.
In addition to Beemer and Rosales, O-G coach Randy Ebbeskotte will have senior Grant Goecke competing in the 160 pound weight class. Goecke (36-4), a state alternate last season, grabbed the fourth and final state spot at the Troy Regional and will face Swanton’s Ryan Marvin (44-10) in his first-round bout. The two met in the finals at Van Buren with Goecke scoring a 5-4 win.
After a number of years taking two to the state tournament, the Patriots will have three in Columbus for the first time.
In addition to Rhamy at 170, sophomore Wil Morrow (28-5) advanced to state for the second straight year and will compete at 182 pounds. Senior Max Neiling (40-8) will make his state tournament debut at 138 for the Patriots for first-year head coach Alex Lopez.
NWC POWER: Apparently, the Northwest Conference was strong this year.
In addition to Sumner, the conference qualified nine wrestlers to state. Allen East (4), Columbus Grove (2) and Paulding (2) had multiple state qualifiers.
Coach Eric Siefker’s Columbus Grove Bulldogs has multiple state qualifiers for the first time since 2012 as sophomore Dylan Sargent (40-9) and freshman Jeff Meyer (36-11) are the youngest competitors on the 220- and 285-pound brackets respectively.
For Bluffton, junior DeAndre Nassar is back in Columbus for the second straight year at 195 pounds. His lone loss of the season came to Elmwood’s Dylan Hinton in the finals of the Van Buren Invitational. He’ll take a 38-1 record into his opening-round bout against Ashlabnd Crestview senior Colton Campbell (45-8).
BACK TO COLUMBUS: Mohawk’s Daniel Price is back where he wants to be. After qualifying to state as a sophomore and missing out last season, he’ll be back in Columbus in the 132-pound division.
The Warriors’ senior was third at districts with a 46-8 overall record and will take on Coshocton junior Blake Barrick (35-12) in a first-round match up.
RAM TOUGH: Upper Sandusky’s Connor Johnston had a unique path to his first state tournament.
The senior two-time state alternate, punched his ticket to Columbus the hard way by winning five straight consolation matches after an opening-round district loss at Norwalk. He’s one of only six of the 224 wrestlers competing in Division II to lose his district opener and still advance.
He has a 48-6 record and will take on Warren Howland senior Brandon Matlock (29-8), a fourth-place finisher at heavyweight last season, in his first match.
Classmate Noah Clary (40-4) advanced for the third straight year and will compete at 182 pounds. Still looking to medal for the first time, Clary will square off against Millersburg West Holmes junior Jake Baldridge (30-5).
STREAK STOPPER?: Will this be the year the area finally gets another state champ?
There are some candidates, and from past history area wrestlers are due for a state title.
Area wrestlers have reached state championship matches and lost 11 straight times since Elmwood’s Nick Goebel won the Division III state 103-pound championship in 2009.
Van Buren’s Chance (2015) and Chad Sonnenberg (2010), Patrick Henry’s Brandon Bennett (2016), Xavier Dye (2011) and Alex Lopez (2009), Fostoria’s Tony Reynolds (2013), North Baltimore’s Dalton Ishmael (2013), Elmwood’s Goebel (2010) and Alex Betts (2009), Mohawk’s Draper (2016) and Hopewell-Loudon’s Ben Kuzma (2009) all lost in the state finals during that time period.
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By JAMIE BAKER