By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
COLUMBUS -- Field's Cory Simpson said his primary goal at the Division II state wrestling tournament was to finish higher than his eighth place rank last year.
Simpson accomplished that the moment he stepped on the mat on Saturday at Value City Arena.
Simpson was one of nine Portage County wrestlers to take part in the placement matches Saturday morning.
"It's good to get in the top four," Simpson said. "It's the best I can do. They're all tough at this point."
Simpson won his consolation semifinal bout 5-1 over Padua Franciscan's Paul Petras, but had to settle for fourth place after a 5-1 loss in the third-place match to Napoleon's Seth Beard.
"It's awesome," Simpson said. "I was a lot more calm this year."
Crestwood had three wrestlers going in the morning session, led by senior 132-pounder Conner Nemec. Nemec lost a tight 2-0 decision in the consolation semifinal to Perry's Aaron Gessic and lost 3-1 in overtime to Circleville's Tyler Knull to take sixth.
"Conner has always been someone you can count on," said Crestwood coach Dave Wrobel.
Red Devils senior 138-pounder Jake Zemaitis closed out his high-school career with a pin, as he stuck Chillicothe's Caleb Price in 4:42 to finish seventh.
"I'm proud of the way Jake has wrestled," Wrobel said. "That weight class was loaded."
Finally, junior 145-pounder Nick Wrobel held on for a 6-5 win over Oak Harbor's Ben Petersen to take seventh place for Crestwood.
"He came back home with a goal of making states, and he ended up on the podium," coach Wrobel said of his nephew. "I want him to step up next year. Being on the podium is a good start."
Ravenna 170-pounder Brendon Winning had to settle for eighth place after losing a 4-3 decision in the seventh-place match to Poland Seminary's Mike Audi.
However, Winning said he loved the state experience.
"It was probably one of the funnest things I've ever done," Winning said. "My goal is always to do better than I did last time."
"The kids will look up to him next year," said Ravens coach Mike Whitmore. "I wish I had a team full of guys like him."
Meanwhile, Aurora's first foray into the Division I state tournament ended with both of its wrestlers on the podium.
At 106 pounds, freshman Jarrod Brezovec won his consolation semifinal 3-0 over Brecksville's Jarod Bronstrup. However, he had to settle for fourth after a 5-2 loss to Lorain's Devione Edwards.
Brezovec tied Aurora's single-season wins record with 45, tying him with Aurora assistant coach John Papesh.
"He did a hell of job to get his far," said veteran Aurora coach Dick Bliss. "We're very, very proud of Jarrod Brezovec."
Meanwhile, Aurora heavyweight Josh Burger finished eighth after losing 6-1 to Teays Valley's C.J. Kinzer.
"We're happy he was able to place at states," Bliss said. "This give us a good starting point for next year."