By JAMIE BAKER
KANSAS — The fourth time was the charm for Elmwood junior Will Bechstein.
After three close losses to Van Buren’s Kaleb Snodgrass earlier in the season, Bechstein finally got over the hump, pinning Snodgrass in 5:23 in the 220-pound Division III district wrestling semifinals Saturday at Lakota to earn a spot in next week’s OHSAA state wrestling tournament.
The top four in each weight class earned a trip to next week’s state meet at Ohio State University’s Value City Arena.
When the whistles stopped, 10 area wrestlers were able to qualify for state from the Lakota district tourney.
Area wrestlers dominated the 220-pound class.
Patrick Henry junior returning state placer Wil Morrow edged Bechstein 7-5 in the title bout. Snodgrass, one of the two Blanchard Valley Conference wrestlers to advance at Lakota, had little trouble rebounding after the loss as he won his next two matches to finish in third place.
Morrow will head to state with a 31-1 record while Bechstein and Snodgrass are 41-9 and 39-6, respectively.
Bechstein lost to Snodgrass by one point twice and by two points in last week’s matchup at sectionals.
When Bechstein saw the pairings, he thought a trip to state might just come down to another match to his rival to the south.
“Honestly, I prepared myself for this match all week,” said Bechstein, whose dad got him involved in the sport in eighth grade.
“I watched a whole bunch of film, and I think I was a lot more mentally prepared today.”
“I know every match from here on out is going to be tough. But the pressure is off now, and now the goal is to place next week.”
Here are a few other takeaways from Saturday’s action at Lakota:
HOME SWEET HOME: Lakota junior Trevor Franks earned a trip to state for the second straight year.
Franks jumped on Archbold’s Kasyn Schaffner for an early 4-1 lead on his way to a 7-3 victory in the 160-pound semifinals. He was forced to default his finals match to unbeaten James Limongi of Genoa in the title bout.
He admits it was a different feeling wrestling in the district tournament on his home turf.
“It feels like home, but I’ll say there was a little added pressure,” said Franks, who improved his record to 32-5. “All of my other coaches were here watching me and it made me nervous. But I felt like I wrestled like I had something to prove today.”
Franks was one match away from medaling at last year’s state tournament/
MAY I HAVE ANOTHER: There were more than a few dominant wrestlers Saturday at Lakota.
Carey junior Tanner May was one of them.
It was May and everyone else in the 182-pound weight class. The three-time state qualifier and returning placewinner cruised to a 14-2 win over Northwood’s Austin Cole in the semifinals and stuck Norwalk St. Paul’s Camden Caizzo in 2:35 to improve to 44-2.
Teammate Reece Mullholand was sixth in a rugged 120-pound weight class for the Blue Devils.
STATE ROYALTY: It’s lining up to be a big weekend in Columbus for Elmwood’s wrestling team.
Seniors Garrett Wright (170) and Kain Brossia (285) also punched their tickets to state for the Royals.
Brossia (39-6) qualified for state for the second straight year when he edged Willard’s Ravin Brant 3-1 in the consolation semifinals on his way to placing fourth.
Wright, though, had to qualify the hard way by navigating the minefield in the consolation bracket.
After a quarterfinal loss on Friday, Wright strung together four straight wins on Saturday to end up finishing third at 170 pounds, raising his record to 45-8.
Freshman Gunner Endicott nearly advanced. He lost 4-2 in overtime to Delta’s Dustin Swicegood and dropped a tight 4-3 decision to Edison’s Shadrick Slone in the consolation semifinals. He ended up placing fifth.
In addition, former Elmwood coach Dave Lee will be inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Hall of Fame before Friday night’s state semifinals.
UPS AND DOWNS: Many area teams had their ups and downs, including Liberty-Benton.
The up: The Eagles got their first state qualifier since Tyler Sarreshteh advanced in 2015 when sophomore Nathaniel DiRe edged Archbold’s Mason Babcock 3-2 in the 182-pound consolation semifinals.
DiRe showed plenty of moxie after a first-round defeat on Friday night. He scored a pin in Friday’s consolations to stay alive in the tournament.
He then faced a full Saturday of tough matches to qualify, beating Edison’s Jacob Thompson 5-3 and Paulding’s Adrian Simonin 7-3 before his win against Babcock. He finished the tournament with five straight consolation wins by knocking off Northwood’s Austin Cole 5-2 to claim third place.
The down: L-B sophomore 132-pounder Dru Baker wrestled his way to the semifinals. Baker suffered an injury against Genoa’s Julian Sanchez in the semifinals and was forced to default all three of his Saturday matches to end up sixth.
DOMINANT COMETS: If Saturday’s performance is any indication, Genoa will be tough to beat for the Division III team title next week.
The Comets racked up 238 points, beating Edison by 85 points. Genoa won six district titles and had two more runner-up finishes. Genoa will have a total of nine state qualifiers in Columbus next week.
1, Genoa 238. 2, Edison 153. 3, Delta 109. 4, Oak Harbor 98½. 5, Liberty Center 93½. 6, Elmwood 82½. 7, Eastwood 71. 8, Gibsonburg 68½. 9, Archbold 68. 10, Norwalk St. Paul 51. 11, Lake 47. 12, Carey 43. 13, Patrick Henry 41. 14, Northwood 35. 15, Swanton 33. 16, Mohawk 32. 17, Liberty-Benton 31. 18, Fremont St. Joseph 30. 19, Sandusky St. Mary’s 27. 20, Western Reserve & Willard 26½. 22, Ashland Crestview 26. 23, Van Buren 25. 24, Ayersville 21½. 25, Arcadia 20½. 26, Hopewell-Loudon & Rossford 20. 28, Antwerp & Edgerton 19½. 30, Lakota 189. 31, Seneca East 18. 32, South Central 14½. 33, Tinora 10. 34, Margaretta 9. 35, Monroeville, New London & Plymouth 7. 38, Evergreen, Paulding & Fairview 5. 41, Bucyrus & Fostoria 4. 43, McComnb & Woodmore 3. 45, Montpelier & Riverdale 2. 47, Lucas 1. 48, Buckeye Central, Tiffin Calvert & North Baltimore 0.
106 — Z. Mattin (Delta) dec. Owens (Eastwood) 6-3
113 — Barnett (Edison) dec. Davis (Oak Harbor) 7-2
120 — O. Sanchez (Genoa) by default over Hahn (Eastwood)
126 — Dickman (Oak Harbor) dec. Lecki (Lake) 7-4
132 — J. Sanchez (Genoa) dec. C. Mattin (Delta) 3-2
138 — D’Emilio (Genoa) pinned Falk (Northwood) 3:52
145 — Morgillo (Genoa) pinned Swicegood (Delta) 3:47
152 — Contos (Genoa) maj. dec. Roberts (Rossford) 12-2
160 — Limongi (Genoa) by default over Franks (Lakota)
170 — Mendoza (Gibsonburg) pinned Stewart (Genoa) 1:10
182 — May (Carey) pinned Caizzo (Norwalk St. Paul) 2:35
195 — Carpenter (Liberty Center) dec. Brewer (Edison) 4-3
220 — Morrow (Patrick Henry) dec. Bechstein (Elmwood) 7-5
285 — Price (Fremont St. Joseph) pinned Koch (Genoa) 4:26
106 — Homan (Edison) pinned Judge (Oak Harbor) 1:25
113 — Maynard (Eastwood) dec. Henneman (Liberty Center) 9-2
120 — Adams (Edison) dec. Matthews (Liberty Center) 11-5
126 — Blanton (Ashland Crestview) maj. dec. Schaller (Swanton) 12-4
132 — Dewitz (Oak Harbor) dec. Rocha (Archbold) 4-2
138 — Keegan (Edison) dec. Short (Archbold) 5-2
145 — Slone (Edison) dec. Price (Mohawk) 4-1
152 — Kay (Liberty Center) by default over Marvin (Swanton)
160 — Rhamy (Patrick Henry) dec. Schaffner (Archbold) 2-0
170 — Garrett Wright (Elmwood) dec. Brown (Ayersville) 8-3
182 — DiRe (Liberty-Benton) dec. Cole (Northwood) 5-2
195 — Sage (Oak Harbor) dec. Martin (Genoa) 2-1
220 — Snodgrass (Van Buren) dec. Smith (Gibsonburg) 5-1
285 — Richard (Delta) dec. Brossia (Elmwood) 3-1 OT
106 — Strickland (South Central) dec. Naseman (Norwalk St. Paul) 4-0
113 — Prosser (Sandusky St. Mary’s) dec. Lacy (Seneca East) 2-0
120 — McAlexander (Antwerp) maj. dec. Mullholand (Carey) 10-2
126 — Neer (Edison) pinned C. Crawford (Hopewell-Loudon) 4:23
132 — Gurney (Mohawk) by default over Baker (L-B)
138 — Roth (Sandusky St. Mary’s) dec. Martz (Western Reserve) 3-1
145 — Endicott (Elmwood) pinned Keegan (Margaretta) 1:50
152 — Slone (Willard) maj. dec. Meyer (Archbold) 13-2
160 — Jaso (Gibsonburg) dec. Lloyd (Edison) 4-1
170 — Meyer (Norwalk St. Paul) maj. dec. Echler (Liberty Center) 14-2
182 — Quezada (Genoa) dec. Babcock (Archbold) 3-0
195 — Ritter (Edgerton) dec. Saeger (Delta) 9-2
220 — Kohlhofer (Delta) dec. McNalley (Lake) 9-3
285 — Hill (Arcadia) dec. Brant (Willard) 6-2