COLUMBUS – Graham put a little distance between its first-place spot and second-place Aurora on Friday, with the Falcons finishing the day with a 93.5-77.5 edge at the Division II state wrestling tournament. The meet concludes here today.
“This team has been gritty all year and this is what we expected. We’re going to go out and fight until the end of this thing,” GHS Coach Travis McIntosh said.
It began Friday morning, when Graham won five of its six quarterfinals matches and was able to open up a double-digit lead on the strength of its championship contenders.
Trace Braun (113 pounds) fell to two-time state champion Jacob Decatur, but Graham won the other five matches.
Nick Moore (132), Alek Martin (138), Jeffrey Thomas (152) and Isaiah Stickley (160) each won to push into the semifinals, with Moore pinning his man for bonus points.
At 285, Johnny Shafer won with a takedown in sudden victory overtime, beating Wapakoneta’s Brenan Knueve, a one-loss district champion.
Things didn’t get any easier in the evening’s semifinals for Shafer, as he went toe-to-toe with undefeated defending champion Jack DelGarbino (Girard) and lost, 5-2.
“We had the idea that we’re going to go out and beat this guy. The chips didn’t fall his way,” McIntosh said. “And that’s been his career, unfortunately. Things haven’t gone his way at the state tournament. But there’s so much more to Johnny and he still has big dreams.”
Stickley also went down at 160 pounds, losing 10-3 to Norwalk’s Ethan Hernandez.
“(Stickley) went out and did what he was supposed to do. And (Shafer and Stickley’s) mindset is that they’re going to get us third (today),” McIntosh said.
The other Falcons had smooth sailing.
“We had a conversation about the team standings. Nick Moore went out and did his job and scored bonus points,” McIntosh said. “Alek wrestled a heck of a match and when I told him we needed those bonus points at 5-0, he did it. And Jeffrey Thomas wrestled a very tactical match. It was very cat-and-mouse. I’m very happy for those three.”
Moore (132) pinned Sandusky Perkins’ Logan Schoen in 26 seconds, setting up a finals rematch with two-time state champion Jordan Decatur in one of today’s must-see bouts.
Martin got a 10-0 major decision over London’s Antwaun Burns at 138 and Thomas beat Steubenville’s Anthony Rice at 152, 8-2.
In the consolation bracket, Braun lost his match and was eliminated from competition.
Nolan Gessler (106) won his first consolation, Dawson Show (120) lost his second-round consolation and was eliminated and Chris Kelly (126) lost his second-round consolation and was eliminated.
In the evening consolation rounds, Gessler was again victorious.
Urbana’s Trevor Stewart (170) won with a 5-2 decision over Canfield’s Ben Cutrer and then lost a 7-4 match to Aurora’s Ethan Anderson. Stewart will wrestle for either seventh or eighth place in today’s morning session.
“There’s a lot of anxiety. Butterflies. But I never would have thought I’d make it this far as a freshman,” Stewart said.
In Division III, Mechanicsburg’s Jake Hurst (132) lost his consolation match by default. Hurst was in control in a 1-0 match when his opponent went down with an injury. The match official ruled that Hurst had made an illegal move and ended the bout. Teammate Jaron Patterson (170) also lost his consolation match, but vowed he’d be back next season as a senior.
Miami East’s Olivia Shore (106) – a St. Paris resident – lost her quarterfinal match, 4-2, but bounced right up and clapped for her opponent in a great display of sportsmanship. Olivia also lost in her consolation match.
“I’ve been thinking about (wrestling at state) since I was 6 years old,” said Shore, who on Thursday became the first girl to ever win an opening-round match at state. “I was prepared; I’ve wrestled on a lot of big stages before.”
Her brother, Max Shore (113), won his Friday morning quarterfinal in decisive fashion with a 12-2 major decision and then advanced to the finals with a 12-6 win over top-seeded and defending champion Casey Barnett, who claimed the 106-pound title last season.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.