By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
COLUMBUS — On day one of the state wrestling tournament, the mission is simple: Win one match and advance to day two.
For 11 of the Portage County’s 14 state qualifiers, that mission was accomplished.
Portage County had an excellent first day at Value City Arena in Columbus on Thursday, as 11 area wrestlers won their opening round matches, earning spots in today’s quarterfinals. No area wrestlers remain alive in the consolations.
Wrestling will resume today at 10 a.m. with the quarterfinals.
Field had the best day of the Division II contingent, as both Falcon wrestlers advanced in dominant fashion.
Field 106-pounder Cory Simpson pinned West Holmes’ Cole Woods in 3:33, while 152-pounder Zach Ladich notched an 18-1 technical fall over Washington Court House’s Jimmy Vandyke.
“It was a very nice first round for us,” said Field coach Joe Retherford. “My two athletes were very focused. Both Zach and Cory are going to carve out their own paths’ from here.”
Crestwood went 2-2 in the first round. Senior 138-pounder Dylan Kager pinned Whitehall-Yearling’s Ashden Gibson in 3:29, while 120-pounder Conner Nemec beat Padua Franciscan’s Tony Becker 8-4.
“That kid that Jake beat wast 50-1, so he’s no slouch,” said Crestwood coach Dave Wrobel. “He stuck by what he knows which is that barrel roll. Conner wrestled a very nice match.”
However, 113-pounder Jake Zematis and 182-pounder Kenny Jackson each went 0-2 and were eliminated.
Zemaitis lost 7-2 in first match
Southeast 170-pounder Brandon James worked quickly, as he pinned Steubenville’s Mark Cole in 48 seconds.
“Mentally, I’m just trying to stay focus,” James said. “I’m not going to take it easy.”
“He makes my job easy,” said Southeast coach Bob Noall. “It’s important to get the first match won.”
Rounding out Division II, Ravenna 160-pounder Logan Reaser advanced thanks to a 7-5 win over Sandusky Perkins Tony Didion.
“His first time down getting to the state meet, it’s a bit overwhelming,” said Ravenna coach Mike Whitmore. “We spent the week getting ready for one match at a time.”
At the Division III level, Waterloo’s JJ Diven made quick work of his first opponent, pinning Springfield Central Catholic’s Anthony Decarlo in 1:56.
“I came in focused,” Diven said. “I think wrestling the way I am, the sky is the limit.”
“You couldn’t plan it any better than that,” said Waterloo coach Brian Munger. “He was focused right rom the start.”
Meanwhile, Viking 195-pounder Brandon Brenes was even more emphatic, using a side headlock to pin Ontario’s John Goodwin in 37 seconds.
“You got to let Brandon be Brandon,” Munger said with a smile.
Rootstown’s twin stars made quick work of their first round opponents. At 170 pounds, Travis Linton won by 18-1 technical fall over Ayersville’s Tate Oswalt, while 220-pounder Jake Moore pinned Brookville’s Cody Carr in 44 seconds.
“They’re ready to wrestle,” said Rovers coach Craig Wise. “It was the same way last year.”
Garfield 182-pounder Kevin Stock opened his tournament with a 13-3 win over Amanda-Clearcreek’s Jordan Leasure.
“I just wanted to open it up and save my lungs for Friday and Saturday,” Stock said. “He was a stiff kid, so I just had to stay clean.”
Mogadore 132-pounder Justin Chew was the only one to lose his first match, but he gave a good fight to undefeated Genner Feutch of West Jefferson before falling 5-2.
“I feel great wrestling an undefeated kid like that,” Chew said.
“I spent a lot time preparing him for that match,” said Mogadore coach Jason Windon. “He wrestled the toughest kid in that bracket and looked good.”
However, Chew was eliminated by a 6-5 loss to Dayton Christian’s Alex Becker.