By ANDY WOLF
NAPOLEON — Bluffton wrestlers Thayne Kleman and Kaden Basil had a flair for the dramatic on Saturday.
Both secured state bids with thrilling victories at the Division III district tournament at Napoleon High School.
Kleman ended up third at 106 pounds; Basil was fourth at 138.
They’ll move on to this week’s state tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“I expected to go 0-2,” Kleman, a freshman who moved to 30-11, said. “I ended up going 4-1. I was not expecting that.
“I just stayed good mentally. It’s all mental.”
Kleman, who started 2-0 on Friday, lost his semifinal match on Saturday to drop to the consolation semifinals — still needing one win to ensure a top-four finish.
In it, he defeated Patrick Henry’s Jeff Camp 9-7 in overtime. Camp had defeated Kleman 11-6 in last week’s sectional semifinal at Van Buren.
“I knew what he was going to do so I was kind of prepared,” Kleman said of Camp. “I knew he liked to roll around so I kind of prevented that.”
His overtime takedown was hardly the most intense aspect.
Kleman opened up a 6-2 lead only for Camp to tie it up at 6-6 through two periods.
Camp started on the bottom in the third period and escaped with 17 seconds left to take a 7-6 lead.
He fended off a shot by Kleman and lifted him towards the edge of the mat only to drop him in the waning seconds.
The officials ruled Camp slammed Kleman and awarded Kleman a penalty point, tying the match.
Kleman seized his second chance.
In overtime, he shot first and quickly ended the match via takedown.
“He broke so I was like ‘I’ve just got to stay good mentally and don’t give anything up,'” Kleman said.
Kleman beat Delta’s Evan Hanefeld 3-2 in the consolation final.
Meanwhile, Basil, a sophomore, also earned a slim win in his consolation semifinal.
He beat the third-period buzzer for a takedown, sending Fairview’s Kaden Blair from his feet straight to the mat to squeak out a 4-3 win.
Basil felt some inspiration from Kleman.
“When I was in the bullpen watching Thayne get that technical point and winning in overtime, it really amped me up and wanted me to be there with him,” Basil said. “I knew when it said 10 seconds on the clock when we reset I was going to have to go.
“I went, got my takedown and then on I was just so happy.”
Basil lost via a 12-4 major decision to Liberty Center’s Maguire Vollmar in the consolation final.
Like Kleman, Basil didn’t have a flashy record entering districts.
He took 14 losses heading into the postseason and won a sectional title last week at Van Buren.
“Once I hit the postseason, I thought of it as a whole new season,” Basil said. “It’s been great so far.”