By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
COLUMBUS -- Very few wrestlers are able to finish their high school careers with a victory.
However, Crestwood senior Dylan Kager and Ravenna senior Logan Reaser each did just that on Saturday at the Division II state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Kager was the lone Portage County wrestler to take third place at states.
Kager pinned Padua Franciscan's Kyle Kaminski in 3:59 and the beat Indian Lake's Heath Lange 8-2 in the third-place match.
"I knew I wanted to get third," Kager said. "I knew (Toledo Central Catholic's Alex) Mossing was going to be a tough match, but after that I didn't think anyone could beat me. I felt like I did my best."
It closes a superb prep career for Kager that will be remembered for a long time.
"He holds several schools records," said Crestwood head coach Dave Wrobel. "He did a fantastic job down here. Some of the kids are just going to be tough to beat."
Kager's teammate, junior 120-pounder Conner Nemec, had to settle for sixth place.
After a 7-2 loss to Milan Edison's Dalton Howard in the consolation semifinals, Nemec led early against Galia Academy's Cole Tawney before Tawney used a cradle to pin him in 1:39 in the fifth-place match.
"My heart goes out to Conner," Wrobel said. "He was leading that match and just got caught. He's going to think about that all the way until next year."
Meanwhile, Reaser's morning got off to a disappointing start.
Up 2-0 with less than 30 seconds over Perry's Alec Schenk in the consolation semifinals, Reaser was reversed and put on his back, giving Schenk the 4-2 win.
Reaser didn't dwell on the loss, as he dominated Columbus St. Francis DeSales' Ian Ferguson 14-0 to claim fifth place at 160 pounds.
"I just had to leave it all out there," Reaser said. "I was fifth at districts last year, so getting fifth at states feels really good."
Saturday's finish was only more validation of what was a remarkable season for the Raven.
"He's been the all star of our team all year," said Ravenna head coach Mike Whitmore. "Coming into the tournament, he only had three losses and one of them was to Schenk. I put him up against anybody in the state, except (St. Paris Graham's) Bo Jordan."
It was a rough day for Southeast 160-pounder Brandon James. After losing in the semifinals the previous night, James had to settle for sixth place. He lost 13-6 to Pemberville Eastwood's Randy Caris and 9-4 to St. Paris Graham's Lane Thomas.
Pirates head coach Bob Noall said James' semifinal loss seemed to be weighing heavily on him.
"It's tough to come back after a loss like that," Noall said. "He tried hard, but there are a lot of good kids down here. We're still proud of him. When I first met BJ after eighth grade, you could tell he was going to be something special."
Meanwhile, Field's duo of 103-pounder Cory Simpson and 152-pounder Zach Ladich each finished in eighth place.
Simpson lost 7-4 to Walsh Jesuit's Alex Mackall in the seventh-place match. Field head coach Joe Retherford said the two have a budding rivalry, as Simpson accomplished something not even recent Field great T.J. Fox did.
"Cory's our first freshman ever to place at states," Retherford said. "Cory and I both are thinking he should have been a few places higher, but it's always tough for a freshman here."
As for Ladich, Retherford said the junior had to default his final two matches because of food poisoning, including the seventh-place match to West Branch's Kenneth Falkner.
Retherford said Ladich did well just to make the podium, as he was showing symptoms of food poisoning as early as his quarterfinal match on Friday.
Regardless, Field earned multiple state placers for the first time in school history.