Dreams gone, but pride still there

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

COLUMBUS _ When you make the trip to Columbus with the dream of winning a state wrestling championship, there is nothing harder than waking up Saturday morning after those dreams have been shot down.

Ravenna's Brandon Hayes, Brad Bauer and Andy Hampton and Aurora's Jason Fink all had their hopes for a state title dashed Friday night with losses in the Division II semifinals, and all returned Saturday morning to Ohio State University's Jerome Schottenstein Center for the consolation semifinals and finals with the daunting task of re-adjusting their goals.

"It becomes a pride issue," said Ravenna coach Steve Reedy. "Wrestlers hate the consolations because a wrestler wants to be the champ. All of a sudden there is nothing to shoot for. So it becomes a matter of pride and making the most of the situation."

Ravenna's wrestlers completed the consolations with mixed results, with Bauer finishing third at 189 pounds, Hampton taking fourth at 215 and Hayes closing with sixth place at 119.

Fink captured third place at 140 pounds, and in Division III Streetsboro 112-pounder Jim Kuchta battled back through the consolation bracket for a third-place finish.

For Fink, who lost on a questionable decision in Friday night's semifinals, taking third offered little consolation.

"I guess it's nice to be able to say I finished third in the state of Ohio, but I know I could have won the championship," said Fink. "This will just have to help me work harder next year. It's my goal to be a state champion."

After controlling Canton South's Ryan Horner in the consolation semis, holding an 11-1 lead and eventually winning on a disqualification, Fink shut down Clyde's Ron Smith 7-0 in the consolation finals.

"Jason wrestled five very difficult matches against quality people," said Aurora coach Dick Bliss. "It was disappointing for him to lose (Friday), but you can't dwell on that. You have to realize that that's over, or it will drive you crazy. We've never left a state tournament happy, even when we won the state championship. There always those could-have, would-have, should-have's."

The consolation bracket was a very different story for Kuchta, who capped his career as the only state-placer of five Streetsboro qualifiers.

"For Kuchta, the consolations were huge," said Streetsboro coach Jim Boardwine. "He wants to be remembered for finishing as high as he can, and he had to win some wars. Realistically, in a bracket that included (undefeated Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 112-pounder) Harry Lester (a state champ last year), he really couldn't count on finishing any higher than second. So third was right about where he belonged, and it finished a great career.

"I'm going to miss him. The guys always make fun of us because Jim and I are so close. They call him my son. I'm hoping a college will pick up on what he is capable of."

Kuchta beat Elmwood's Jason Sibrel 4-1 in the consolation semifinals, then captured third with a 6-4 decision over Doug Curnes of Martins Ferry.

Bauer regained some pride after Friday's disappointing loss in the semifinals by beating Canfield's Chris Canale in overtime in the consolation finals, his third victory over Canale in three weeks.

The Ravenna senior, who was penalized with a stalling call to tie the match at 3-3 and force overtime, scored on a double-leg takedown off the whistle in the extra period for a 5-3 victory.

"Losing in the semifinals was a low point," said Bauer. "What I didn't do (Friday) night, I did (Saturday)."

Bauer advanced to the consolation finals with a 15-6 major decision over Byesville Meadowbrook's Jason Newell.

Hampton lost in the 215-pound consolation finals on a pin in 2:47 by Howland's Drew Sparks.

According to Reedy, the match should have been stopped before the pin because Hampton, who led 7-2 at the time, sprained his ankle when Sparks took him to the mat.

"I was yelling, 'He's hurt, he's hurt,' but the referees wouldn't stop the match," said Reedy. "They didn't even attempt to stop it."

Earlier in the morning, Hampton used a power half to put Cleveland Benedictine's Patrick Vrobel on his back and score a 1:44 pin to advance to the consolation finals.

Hayes, who finished third in the state last year at 103 pounds and opened the season as the favorite to win the state championship at 119 according to the Brakeman Report, sprained his shoulder in Friday's semifinal loss to Levi Spellman of Canfield.

As a result, the Raven senior was at less than full strength for his consolation matches, falling 5-0 to Kayne Toukonen of Uhrichsville Claymont and 5-3 in overtime to Ryan Finn of Sandusky Perkins in the fifth-sixth place match.

"I just wasn't myself," said Hayes. "I'm very disappointed. I let myself down. In fact, I let everybody down who is important to me: my coach and my family."

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