By JAMIE BAKER
COLUMBUS — Van Buren junior Kaleb Snodgrass knows what it’s like to wrestle in a state final.
His job now is to try and get back there next March.
Facing difficult odds against Columbus Grandview Heights’ four-time state placer and returning state champion Hudson Jump, Snodgrass fell 19-4 in the Division III 220-pound final at the OHSAA wrestling championships Saturday night at Value City Arena.
He prepped to wrestle the best match he possibly could against Jump, who had wrestled a full six-minute match just once in his 38 straight wins this season.
At the state tournament, Jump outscored his four opponents 85-21.
“It was definitely one of those things where I already knew there was no easy wrestler down here and I took it seriously preparing for him,” said Snodgrass, who finished the season with a 42-7 record. “I just wanted to take it all in, every second of what happened today.
“I was thinking about everyone that has supported me getting this far. I knew I had to put it on the line and give it everything I had. He was just a way better wrestler, and it showed.”
It was a fast start for Jump, who shot in for four takedowns, scored near-fall points and racked up an 18-4 first-period lead. An escape by Jump in the opening seconds of the second period ended the match by technical fall.
Reaching the finals in a wrestler’s state tournament debut is heady stuff. It was especially big for Snodgrass, who was flying under the radar before winning a championship at the Perrysburg Invitational in January.
At that point, even he didn’t see a state finals match in his future.
“I felt the pressure, but there’s always a lot of pressure in a state championship match,” he said. “If you would have told me I was going to wrestle in the state finals, I would have said I had a lot of work to do. It’s really crazy to think about.”
Snodgrass learned plenty in his three state tournament wins and his finals loss. He’ll put what he learned to work trying to get another Saturday night match as a senior.
“I’m just really grateful I got this experience, and thankful for everything that’s happened this weekend,” Snodgrass said.
“It will definitely help a ton when I get back here next year. It also helps sometimes to get humbled out there. Because after a match like this, you can learn a lot from it and it can drive you to get better every day.”