By JAMIE BAKER
The odds may be stacked against Findlay High School’s Jeremiah Snider at this weekend’s Division I district wrestling tournament at Mentor.
And that’s OK with him.
Snider and 87 other area wrestlers will be making the push to get to next week’s OHSAA state tournament when district competition begins across the state on Friday.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for next week’s state tournament at Ohio State University’s Value City Arena.
Snider was a key member of last year’s wrestling team that was perhaps the best the school has ever had. But his junior season was cut short by an injury.
“I was at the Elmwood Duals in my second match of the day. I was wrestling a kid from St. Marys that tried some kind of arm throw on me and that basically dislocated my shoulder,” Snider recounted.
“That ended my season. Three weeks later, they told me I needed surgery. It kind of ruined my expectations for the summer, because I planned on lifting and going to camps.”
Even after surgery, Snider still had issues with his shoulder.
“I had problems with it during the summer in rehab and it started to bug me again at the first part of the season. The second tournament I was in, I reinjured it. The doctors told me they weren’t sure I’d be able to come back,” Snider said.
“Thoughts of whether I would ever be able to wrestle again went through my head. I started running and rehabbing on my own. Two weeks ago, I got cleared. I got one week of practice in and then I went to sectionals.”
Snider was able to advance in the 195-pound division with a fourth-place finish at last week’s Oregon Clay Sectional. His return to the mat was anything but easy.
“I knew coming in it was going to be tough. I knew if I got through the first day I could qualify for districts. I had my first match in two months, I knew it was going to be tough, and I got pinned,” Snider said.
“I knew as soon as I stepped on the mat, though, I would be fine. I’m always worried about my shoulder. It’s always going to hurt, it’s always going to bother me, I just have to get over it.”
Despite all he’s been through in the last year, Snider has tried to remain positive and is putting everything he has into his final chance to get to state.
“Things happen for a reason. In wrestling you have to persevere through adversity just like life,” Snider said.
“I have been doing this since I was 4 or 5 years old. Wrestling has been a big part of my life. The thought of never wrestling again is pushing me to work harder every day.”
UPSET MAKER: After posting a couple of upsets last weekend, Findlay sophomore Jimmy Phadphom will be looking for a repeat performance in the 113-pound division at Mentor.
Despite an 18-19 record entering last week’s sectional, Phadphom pinned the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds on his way to a second-place finish.
“I didn’t even know I was going to make it to districts because their records were a lot better than mine. I just kept going. I run every day, so I knew if I could just keep going, I could beat them in the third period,” Phadphom said.
“Before last weekend, I didn’t believe in myself. I just kept losing. I wanted to get better, so I started working harder in practice.”
He’s prepping for another big weekend for the Trojans in northeast Ohio.
“I have to practice, run, pray, believe. Those are the things I have to do to prepare this week,” Phadphom said.
“I feel like my mind is more on wrestling now. I want to win and I’m hoping to make it to state.”
Wrestling at Mentor begins at 5 p.m. Friday and resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals at approximately 12:30 p.m. The finals are set for 6 p.m.
HOME COOKING: The Division III Northwest District tournament has bounced around the past 20 years: Fostoria, Owens Community College, Bowling Green, back to Fostoria and then to Defiance.
Lakota and its spacious gym will be hosting this year’s tournament.
There will be a couple of hometown favorites in the field as the host Raiders have a pair of wrestlers participating.
Junior Lane Paul (18-17) will compete at 138 pounds while Trevor Franks, the Raiders’ 160-pounder, will try and qualify for state for the second straight year. Franks will enter the weekend with a 29-4 record.
The tournament at Lakota will begin a 4:30 p.m. on Friday and resume at 9:30 a.m. with the semifinals set for approximately 11 a.m. The finals will begin an hour after the completion of the consolation semifinals.
HEADED SOUTH: There will be 20 area wrestlers heading down I-75 Friday to compete in the Division III district tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena.
Bluffton senior DeAndre Nassar will be the favorite at 182 pounds with a perfect 40-0 record. Ottawa-Glandorf’s Danny Rosales, also a returning state placer at 182 pounds, and Columbus Grove’s Dylan Sargent (220) and Jeff Meyer (285) will be looking to return to state as well.
Wrestling at Troy begins at 3 p.m. on Friday and will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday with the finals at 3:30 p.m.