COLUMBUS _ In case the issue was in doubt, Ravenna is ready to wrestle.
The team that was picked to earn the state championship in Division II and finished the season ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll took second in the district last weekend. Rumor had it that the Ravens were over-rated.
A quick look at the first-round results in the 62nd state wrestling tournament, held in the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University with a record 14,918 fans in attendance, shows Ravenna's in great shape, standing third in the tournament with 14 points behind arch-rival Walsh Jesuit (15 1/2) and Clyde (15).
Ravenna's Brandon Hayes (119 pounds) opened the action with a pin. Jeff Dunfee lost at 135, but Vince Zmith (152) won by decision. Brad Bauer (189) added a major decision, and Andy Hampton (215) pinned his opponent in 1:02.
"I'm pleased," said Ravenna coach Steve Reedy. "We did what we had to do. We knew that Dunfee had a tough match, but the other kids picked it up. We got five bonus points. They all add up at the end."
Healthy for the first time in weeks, Hayes dominated his match. Hayes finished a disappointing fifth in the district last week, a position far below his ranking. Brian Brakeman, wrestling's guru, picked Hayes to be a state champ.
Hayes (28-5), who faced Brad Trostel (34-6) of St. Paris Graham, a district champ, jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first period. At 3:19, Hayes hit a cradle and pinned Trostel.
Dunfee's (25-11) opponent was undefeated Richard Burns (30-0) of Hillsboro, who earned a 19-8 decision.
Zmith (41-3), who has the stomach flu, battled through it and earned a 10-4 decision over Justin Cockrell (32-11) of Clyde. It was an important win because Clyde is one of Ravenna's challengers for the team title.
Bauer (31-3) faced the task of wrestling an old opponent, Joe Botsford (25-11) of Southeast. Bauer prevailed with a 9-1 decision.
"It's tough to wrestle someone you have wrestled so many times," said Bauer. "Joe is a dangerous wrestler and can put you on your back anytime. I was up all night worrying about it."
Hampton (30-2) used a power half-nelson to turn Chris Cameron (21-8) of Easton. He managed the pin at 1:02.
In the first round of the consolations, Dunfee scored a 3-0 decision over Brandon Distel of Fostoria to stay alive in the tournament.
"We looked very good," said Reedy. "The kids knew what was on the line."
In addition to Botsford, Southeast had Chris Dunfee at 130 pounds. Dunfee (27-5) earned an 8-0 major decision over Mike Allen (38-8) of Springfield Shawnee, giving the Pirates three points. Dunfee was never in trouble, scoring in every period.
"You could see how well the Firestone District kids did down here," said Southeast coach Ralph Graham. "But you could also see how nervous Botsford and Dunfee were. By Friday they should be settled down. I thought it was unfortunate that Botsford had to wrestle Bauer in the first round. He deserved to see someone else in that round."
Crestwood's Heath Kramer (28-4) faced district winner Ryan Finn (36-8) of Sandusky Perkins at 119 pounds, and Kramer eked out a 3-2 decision. He will face Kayne Toukenon (33-4) of Claymont in today's quarterfinals.
Aurora entered just two wrestlers, but quality is sometimes better than quantity. The Greenmen lie in eighth place with seven points.
Aurora's Jason Fink (36-1) easily scored an 18-4 major decision over C.J. Davis (28-16) of Port Clinton at 140 pounds.
Artie Mauser (34-2) destroyed Aaron Foster (23-8) of Hamilton Ross, pinning him in 3:23 at 160 pounds. Mauser hit a power half-nelson, one of his better moves.
"So far so good," said Aurora coach Dick Bliss. "We brought two good kids and are looking forward to more wins. We had a lot of challenges this season, but the cream of our team rose to the top."
Aurora is in Division II this season after competing in Division III for several years, but the Greenmen wrestle a Division II schedule.
Another local wrestler that did well was P.J. Jones of Walsh Jesuit (Ravenna). Jones defeated Pete Franz of Kenston 6-4 at 171 pounds in the championship round.