By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
Pickaway County is guaranteed two placers in the state wrestling championships this weekend as Teays Valley’s Camden McDanel and Westfall’s Starr Kelly each have advanced to the semifinals in their divisions.
MARION — Kelly improved to 31-2 on the season with two decisions at the Division III state championships.
The 195-pound senior opened the tournament with a 7-5 decision over Kirtland junior Anthony Gencarelli (26-6) and then came back with a 5-2 decision over Delta senior Max Hoffman (42-7).
Kelly will be back at Marion Harding High School Sunday morning Southeast junior Jaiden Sapp. Sapp (34-4) advanced by technical fall and then a 7-6 decision.
HILLIARD — McDanel, now 40-1 on the season, had a 14-1 lead over Olmsted Falls senior RJ Simon (25-6) when he pinned Simon midway through the third round.
He came back in the second round facing off against Jonathon Sanchez (29-5) from Archbishop Moeller. McDanel got out to a 7-0 lead after the first round and finished the match with an 11-0 major decision.
“Cam looked really well. He’s just doing things right and all year he’s done that,” Teays Valley coach Todd Nace said. “We’re really proud of him making it to semis and we’re going to go up the podium as far as we can go.”
“I just kept my head level and took it as everyone is the best person,” McDanel said. “I just controlled the match and did what I did to score and am just waiting for the finals.”
McDanel will face Elyria’s Jake Evans Sunday morning when wrestling resumes at Hilliard Darby High School. Evans (37-1) advance to the semifinals with two first-round pins.
“I’m just going to try and relax tonight and keep my mind off of it, honestly,” McDanel said. “It’s a fresh day tomorrow – nothing happened yesterday – just start over again.”
Sophomore heavyweight Joey Thurston saw his season come to an end Saturday.
The day got off to a good start for Thurston (36-8) as the heavyweight pinned Wayne’s Joshua Padilla (23-2) — the champion from the Kettering-Fairmont district — in 2:30.
In the second round of his second match, Thurston was pinned by Boardman senior Jake Powell (49-3) in 2:46.
Coming back in the consolation bracket, Thurston went up against GlenOak senior Aeden Begue (50-5). Begue advanced with a pin in 2:58.
“I wrestled hard and I tried my hardest. You go out there to kill or be killed and it didn’t work today,” Thurston said. “I’m going to go back and come in next year, go at it as hard as I can, try and place, try to win the whole thing — that’s all I can do.”
“There was a 50-50 position and we just got off on the wrong foot of it,” Nace said of Thurston’s final match. “It wasn’t lack of effort. Joey’s effort was right there, he came in here to battle. He beat the No. 1 kid in a district. We were a four and knock off a No. 1, so that’s a big deal.
“He’s a sophomore and if he comes back next year 10, 15, 20 pounds stronger up in the shoulders, he beats 80 percent of these kids. So, we’re looking for big things next year.”
Liam Wilson qualified for the state tournament at 220 pounds, but a shoulder injury suffered at last week’s district championships prevented him from participating at this weekend’s tournament.