COLUMBUS - Men on a mission.
That's the best way to describe the three area grapplers who are still alive in the quest for the coveted Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state championship.
Shadyside's duo of Ian Baker (138) and Alex Quinn (152) as well as Bellaire senior Josh Davis (145) took care of the opening-round opponents to earn a berth in today's quarterfinals as the 75th annual OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament got started at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Bellaire’s Josh Davis tangles with Brooklyn’s Casey Bishop during the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament on Thursday in Columbus. Davis won by pinfall.
Photo by Seth Staskey
Championship quarterfinal action at 10 this morning for the small schools. A victory clears the docket until tonight's semifinals, which start at 6:30 p.m. However, a loss forces another match during the afternoon to assure a spot on the podium as an all-stater.
Shadyside coach Scott Kinemond, who invested in a new suit just in case either of his entrants reached Saturday night's finals because of the new OHSAA coaches' dress code policy, had a stressful start to his tournament despite his Tigers finishing the first day 2-0.
''Ian had to take the fancy way of doing it, I guess,'' Kinemond said. ''I am proud of both (Ian and Alex) for the way they got it done, regardless of how it happened. At this point in the season, that's all that matters.''
Baker found himself in a scoreless battle with Beachwood sophomore Ryan Harris into the third period. Harris struck first with an escape with less than 15 seconds to go, but Baker, who admitted he needed to be more offensive on the mat, caught Harris on his hip and flipped for a takedown with 7 seconds to go and the eventual 2-1 victory.
''I felt him push a little bit, so I pushed back and the throw was there for me,'' Baker said. ''It's nice to get the first win. I know I have to win at least one more to be All-Ohio, so I just have to keep focused, get a good night's rest and come ready to go to (today).''
Baker's reward is a quarterfinal match with Harrod Allen East senior Colt Lovejoy, who was a 9-3 winner in his first-round match.
Quinn, meanwhile, had much less trouble in reaching the quarterfinals in his first appearance at the state tournament. The Tigers' 152 pounder, who's already won the OVAC, sectional and district crowns, took the first step toward completing the magical season with a 16-1 technical fall against Gibsonburg's Damen Escobedo.
''I had some nerves going as I came out of the tunnel, but I just tried to turn those nerves into a positive energy,'' Quinn said. ''You have to embrace the moment and remember what got you here.''
Quinn was never challenged, shooting out to a 6-0 lead and flirted with the pin on several occassions before eventually securing the technical fall in the third period.
''It's great to get the first win,'' Quinn continued. ''I know I need one more win to place, but I want to do more than just place. I have to keep doing what I've been doing all season and keep my head right.''
The victory improves Quinn to 37-2 and he'll meet Brookville senior David Williams, who is 36-10 after advancing by virtue of a 6-5 victory.
Bellaire's Davis, meanwhile, is in the midst of his third consecutive trip to the state tournament. However, the emotion Davis showed after he pinned Brooklyn senior Casey Bishop 19 seconds into the second period is understood.
''I'd never won a match at the state (tournament) before, so to get the first one by pin was really exciting,'' Davis said. ''I was able to stay in control and I just caught him for the pin.''
Davis was having his way with Bishop throughout the first period, building a commanding eight-point lead at the break. To begin the second, he promptly slammed Bishop, turned him to his back and then celebrated after the official slapped the mat.
''I just have to keep focused because every match is going to get tougher,'' Davis said.
COLUMBUS - Steubenville Big Red arrived with the exact amount of wrestlers as Division II powerhouse and 11-time defending champion St. Paris Graham.
Unfortunately for Big Red, they didn't end the first day with the same amount.
Coach Mike Blackburn's squad, however, has an OVAC-high five wrestlers alive in today's quarterfinal round, which gets started at 10 this morning at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Graham, which is a wrestling factory in the Dayton area, had all eight of its wrestlers advance to today's quarterfinal. Not only did the Falcons advance, but they did so by either major decision, technical fall or pin, giving them 28.5 points after the first day.
Steubenville is sitting in fourth place overall with 15 points.
Big Red got out of the gates quickly Thursday thanks to a 10-5 decision by freshman Devin Brown against Mantua Crestwood's Jake Zemaitis. Brown will oppose St. Paris Graham's Eli Stickley (33-10) in the quarterfinals.
Senior Shawn McGhee, who has All-Ohio aspirations, continued his brilliant season at 145 pounds. This marks McGhee's third appearance at the state tournament.
''It definitely feels good to get that a win at state because I hadn't done that since I was a sophomore,'' McGhee said. ''Now, it's time to focus on the next one.''
Before he could officially focus on the next one, McGhee recorded two quick takedowns of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's Jeff Hojnacki and never looked back en route to a 17-6 major decision.
''I wanted to go out and wrestle my match,'' McGhee said. ''I wanted to attack, dominate and be relentless.''
McGhee, who is 39-3, will tangle with Parma Heights Holy Name senior Jimmy Klosz, who earned his 40th victory of the season by a 7-4 score.
Brown and McGhee set the tables for the trio of Big Red standouts in the upper weights.
Senior Jake Howarth improved to 38-6 at 170 pounds thanks to a 4-2 decision against Walsh Jesuit's Nick Rumple.
Howarth will take on once-beaten Brandon Taylor of Gallia Academy in today's semifinals. Taylor has 46 victories to his credit.
Junior Charlie Keenan, whose dad, Charlie, won the state title as a junior, is three victories from matching his that accomplishment after his 7-3 victory against Hamilton Ross' Tyler Bridwell.
''I just want to keep winning and hopefully get to the finals,'' Keenan said. ''We're doing well as a team and we want to compete as well as we can and see what happens.''
Keenan will take on 33-10 Evan Nichols of Perry.
Junior Greg Moray notched his 43rd victory in 44 trips to the mat this winter thanks to a pin of Canton South's Ken Hodge at the 4:48 mark in his state tournament debut. Moray finally got a pin after having Hodge stuck for quite sometime.
The next match for Moray will come against Lucas Sparks (31-4) of Springfeld Shawnee. He was a 4-2 winner in the opening round.