COLUMBUS – Champaign County was well represented at the first day of the 80th annual state wrestling championships on Thursday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Eighteen of the 19 wrestlers who entered the afternoon preliminaries came out victorious, with only Mechanicsburg’s Corey Bogan falling in a narrow 5-4 decision at 160 pounds.
“Just have to come back,” said an upbeat Bogan after the match.
Bogan did just that in his evening consolation match, winning a 16-11 decision.
Mechanicsburg Coach Cameron Doggett was happy with his team’s start in Division III, as the Indians advanced the other six team members who qualified.
“Out of seven matches, we only dropped one of them, which is quite good at the state tournament,” Doggett said. “Kids wrestled their butts off and I’m excited.”
Alex Rhine (132), Tanner Smith (145) and Kaleb Romero (170) each won via pin, with Colt Yinger (152) earning a technical fall and Tyler Wetzel (126) and Dylan Hartley (285) winning decisions.
Triad’s Zack Zizzo (145) also advanced with a 4-3 victory in his first-ever state bout.
“It’s awesome. It’s my first time here and it’s overwhelming,” Zizzo said. “I don’t think I’m nervous, I just wasn’t focusing like I should have been. I just kept looking at the clock and I shouldn’t be looking at the clock. I think I just got too excited.”
Triad Coach Tyler Graff knows that Zizzo feeds off his own success, even as he marches into Friday’s quarterfinals against Elyria Catholic’s Stan Bleich – the district champion from Garfield Heights.
“The main thing is (Zizzo’s) on to the next round. It’s not always going to be pretty, but we’ll take it from here,” Graff said. “A lot of things happen in the state tournament. You see a lot of number one kids here that get upset. Maybe it’s this arena or just the whole status of this being the state tournament.”
In Division II, it was business as usual for Graham, which advanced each of its 11 competitors into the championship quarterfinals.
“We had a great first round. We just gotta do it all again (Friday) morning,” GHS Coach Jeff Jordan said. “We just tell the guys to take one match at a time. You win four and you win state – now we have three.”
Tanner Jordan (106), Jeffrey Thomas (126), Mitch Moore (132), Joey Sanchez (145), Ryan Thomas (160), Gage Braun (182) and Kavan Sarver (195) each won by pin, helping propel the Falcons to an unsurprising first-place position as they seek their 17th consecutive state title.
“The guys like looking up there at that board,” Jordan said. “There’s been a lot of times where we’ve won it on Friday night. We’ve got to put a lot of guys in the semis and then hopefully put a lot of guys in the finals.”
Jordan Crace (120) and Rocky Jordan (152) won by technical fall, with Johnny Shafer (220) earning a major decision and J.D. Stickley (138) advancing via decision.