COLUMBUS – Graham led after the first day of the Division II OHSAA state wrestling tournament on Thursday, but it was much closer than usual.
Graham had 24.5 team points, with Aurora trailing at 20.5, Louisville at 19 and Steubenville at 18.5.
It was atypical for the Falcons, who watched as Nolan Gessler (106 pounds), Dawson Show (120), Chris Kelly (126), D’artagnan Spitler (145) and Nolan Neves (182) all fell into the consolation bracket.
“Unfortunately the state tournament doesn’t always go as planned. But we still have nine guys ready to rock and roll. We came to wrestle – that’s what we’re shooting for. We’re going to go out and compete,” GHS Coach Travis McIntosh said. “Even the guys that lost were close. The match at 126 was unbelievable. For that to be a first round match is unreal.”
Graham still pushed six wrestlers into today’s quarterfinals.
Trace Braun (113) looked in control in an 11-3 major decision over New Lexington’s Blake Sheppard, Nick Moore (132) earned a tough 6-3 victory over Cleveland Benedictine’s Derek Berdysz and title favorite Alek Martin (138) pinned Warren Howland’s Matthew Woomer early in the third period.
Jeffrey Thomas (152) took an 18-9 major decision over Bishop Hartley’s Keegan Moran, Isaiah Stickley (160) earned a 15-0 technical fall of Parma Padua Franciscan’s Austin Willard and Johnny Shafer (285) pinned Minerva’s Jarrett Burress.
“As far as those matches we won, all those guys were very impressive,” McIntosh said. “Those guys took care of business and they’re ready to go (today).”
Indeed, without those bonus points, Graham – which has won 18 straight state titles – may even have trailed going into today’s bouts.
The five Graham wrestlers in Thursday’s consolations had mixed results. Gessler won via pin, Show won a 6-2 decision and Chris Kelly won a 6-5 decision.
Spitler lost a 6-0 decision and was eliminated, as was Neves when he took a fall with 1:25 left in the first period.
Also in Division II, Urbana freshman Trevor Stewart lost his first match, 6-2, to Mentor Lake Catholic’s Cole Hivnor. In the consolation, Stewart won a 10-2 major decision.
In Division III, Mechanicsburg’s Jake Hurst (132) and Jaron Patterson (170) made their state tournament debuts, both falling in their opening matches.
Patterson, a junior, seemed to tighten up after giving up points to his opponent and lost via third-period pin to Ashtabula St. John’s David Cumberledge.
“It’s a tough thing. And for Jake being a freshman, I thought he wrestled really good. And Jaron, he started out really good and then kind of got rattled there. That happens at state,” MHS Coach Cameron Doggett said. “No matter how much you prep for it, that first match, walking out of the tunnel is a neat experience and it’s a whole different thing.”
Hurst, a freshman, looked competitive as he tried to upset Klay Reeves (Johnstown Northridge). Hurst took an early lead, but eventually gave up a late takedown and lost, 5-4.
“It’s just different. It’s a lot of people. I just wanted to go out there and get a couple shots in,” Hurst said. “Everyone’s good. You’re going to run into a good kid everywhere you go. I just tried to work my angles and get a good 30-second burst. But now I’ve got to wrestle back.”
In the evening’s consolation round, Hurst won a 4-1 decision and Patterson won a 6-1 decision.
West Liberty-Salem’s Major Stratton (195) made it into the field as an alternate and got pinned in both his first match and the evening’s consolation and was eliminated from the field.
Also in Division III, St. Paris residents Olivia Shore (106) and Max Shore (113) each won their first-round bouts for Miami East and advanced to today’s quarterfinals.
Olivia won her match, 10-8, in sudden victory overtime. Max earned an 18-2 technical fall over Liberty Center’s Cameron Henneman.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.