By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
HILLIARD — Teays Valley’s Gunner Havens used a pair of pins to keep alive his hopes of placing at the Division I state wrestling championships.
Havens got off to a tough start before battling his way back in the consolation bracket Saturday at Hilliard Darby High School.
He lost a 7-2 decision to Massillon Perry’s Austin McBurney (27-7) in the opening round. (McBurney won his next match 9-3 to advance to the championship semifinals.)
“The first match I expected to win, that’s the goal — always to win. The outcome was I lost and that’s what happened, and I had to bounce back and get ready for that second match,” Havens said. “I went out there and felt pretty good, dominated and then got my mind ready. I knew I would have a pretty tough match but if I did my stuff then I’d be able to come out on top.”
Havens (33-4) came back in the consolation bracket and pinned Elyria’s Alex Green (21-18) in 29 seconds and then pinned Miamisburg’s Jayden Cochran (29-4) in 43 seconds.
“The first match we knew was tough, that kid could be in the finals,” TV coach Todd Nace said. “Coming back in that second match, he was right in there and this match we just told him to go do his stuff. He’s pinned 30-some people in the first period – that’s what he does.
“I can’t be any prouder than I am right now. It’s pretty exciting for him.”
Havens will be going up against Perrysburg’s Ryan Avalos (38-4) when wrestling resumes Sunday morning. The winner of that match secures one of the top eight spots in the state.
Havens said he plans to relax Saturday night.
“When I think about stuff, I over think and it works me up — so just stay calm, might hang out with a few friends, really just not think about it and go out there and wrestle.”
The state championships continue Saturday afternoon with the 152-pound through heavyweight weight classes competing.
Teays Valley’s Camden McDanel (182) and Joey Thurston (heavyweight) will be in action.
In Division III action at Marion Harding High School, Westfall’s Starr Kelly will be competing in the 195-pound weight class.