COLUMBUS – That first-round victory at the state tournament is so important.
When a wrestler wins their first-round match of the state tournament, they can rest up until the next day.
However, a loss in the opening round means they’re wrestling back in the consolations the same night.
For Shawnee sophomores Hunter Lucas and Dylan Hefner, Thursday evening was a little more relaxing.
Both Lucas and Hefner had tough first-round matches, but came out victorious and remain in the championship bracket of the Division II state tournament.
The state tournament runs through Saturday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
And for all the wrestlers involved in the state tournament, the ultimate goal is to still be wrestling come Saturday.
Lucas, who competes in the 106-pound weight class, kept his perfect record in tact as he decisioned Noah Jay from Whitehall-Yearling on Thursday, 6-2. Lucas (37-0) will face Tallmadge’s Terrell Grant (39-8) in today’s second-round action.
Hefner, who made the jump from the 170-pound weight class to 182 late this season, defeated St. Paris Graham’s Hayden Bronne in his opening match Thursday, 13-7.
Hefner (36-5) will take on Claymont’s Colt Crall today in a quarterfinal.
For both Shawnee wrestlers, this is the first time they’ve competed at the state tournament.
“I was a little scared for about the first 30 seconds,” Hefner said with a smile. “But, he (Bronne) didn’t look too intimidating. The fact that he’s from Graham, kind of got into my head, just a little bit. I was so nervous with it being my first match at state, but I feel better now. All I have to do is win one more match to place.”
Graham has won the Division II team state title the past 13 seasons.
Shawnee first-year coach Kyler Washam knows a little bit about the state-tournament experience. His senior season at Shawnee, Washam competed at the Division II state tournament.
“With it being the first time for them to be down here, the first match is the biggest one,” Washam said. “You can get those nerves out of the way (after the first match). And especially with Dylan’s first match; wrestling a Graham kid, it was going to be tough. And Hunter’s first match, he wrestled a really tough kid. To come out there and to win is huge.”
Bath’s Colin Ingram won his first-round match at 120 Thursday, defeating New Lexington’s Andrew Spicer 8-4. Ingram (41-5) will take on Cole Woods from Millersburg West Holmes today in Division II quarterfinal action.
Indian Lake’s Heath Lange (145) and Reyse Wallbrown (152, 39-4) also won their first-round matches Thursday.
Those Division II wrestlers who won their consolation matches Thursday night and will compete today include Elida’s Blaine Hunter (113); Wapakoneta’s Dallas Ambos (145) and Colton Brown (195); Indian Lake’s L.J. Henderson (182).
Wapakoneta’s Landon Hall (182) lost his consolation match to Richfield Reveer’s Ahmad Khatib by way of a pin and was eliminated from the tournament.
The first round was not as kind to the local Division III wrestlers. All eight area grapplers lost their first-round matches.
However, the following Division III wrestlers battled back in the consolations Thursday to stay alive in the tournament: Ada’s Austin Windle (160), Lima Central Catholic’s Jack Huffman (195), Coldwater’s Justin Post (220) and Van Wert’s Zack Thomas (285).
Huffman came back strong in his consolation match as he defeated Delta’s Mark Francis 8-5.
“You just have to stay tough in these tournaments,” Huffman said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself and get down in the dumps. …It’s just going to make things harder on you. So, anytime I lose one in a tournament, I try to stay positive.”
Van Wert’s Thomas (285) won his consolation bout to stay alive. Thomas pinned Norwalk St. Paul’s Connor Careless, midway through the third period.
“It feels amazing to win that match and now I’m wrestling tomorrow,” Thomas said. “My goal is to qualify for Friday, and I did that.”
Van Wert coach Ben Collins was pleased to see how Thomas responded after losing his opening match.
“He’s on fire now, which is a good thing to see, especially when you’re wrestling back in the consolations,” Collins said. “He’s wrestling really well. …He’s wrestling smart.”
Ada’s Windle (160) stayed alive in the tournament. Windle lost his opening match Thursday, but garnered a win in the consolations by way of a forfeit over Atwater Waterloo’s Josh Horning.