TV’s Graham, Havens earn spots on podium
by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
COLUMBUS — Cam McDanel secured his spot on the awards podium Saturday morning at the state wrestling championships as he moved on in the championship bracket.
Fellow Teays Valley wrestlers Gunner Havens and Zander Graham will be on their respective podiums as well after coming back in Division I consolation brackets.
TV’s Joey Thurston saw his season ended as did Amanda-Clearcreek senior Grant Guiler.
McDanel, a junior, advanced to Saturday night’s championship semifinals with an 11-3 major decision over Myles Johnson (45-8) of Springboro.
McDanel (40-3), a state runner-up last season, will face St. Edward sophomore Jonny Slaper (22-3) in the semifinal. Slaper has won his matches 3-0 and 3-2 to advance.
“Cam winning that quarterfinal match to be in the semis, that’s huge,” Teays Valley coach Todd Nace said. “I’m not worried about him. He knows what he needs to do.”
Havens started his day in the championship quarterfinals where he faced St. Edward freshman Adam Butler (21-9). The first period ended tied 2-2 and Butler took the lead on a reversal early in the second on the way to pinning Havens.
Havens (39-3) came back to face Olentangy freshman Kurt Mokros in the consolation round. Havens was in control most of the match leading 11-2 after two periods and pinned Mokros at the 4:14 mark.
Graham faced Perrysburg’s Joey Blaze (52-2) in the 144-pound quarterfinals. Blaze was last season’s state champ at 138 pounds. Blaze advanced with a pin at 3:01 sending Graham (30-5) to the consolation bracket where he faced Lancaster’s Brody Chase (40-10).
Graham came out on top with a 7-1 decision.
“Gunner comes back and gets the win. Zander comes back and gets his win. Those are two big matches,” Nace said. “They’re in the top eight now.”
At heavyweight, Thurston faced last year’s state runner-up in the championship quarterfinals.
Thurston scored an early takedown but Massilon Perry’s Aidan Fockler (38-7) led 3-2 at the end of the period. Fockler was able to get Thurston on his back midway through the second period and recorded the pin at 3:12.
Thurston (37-5) then faced Brush’s Maliek Williams (32-5) in the consolation bracket.
They wrestled a scoreless first period and Thurston had a 2-1 lead after two. Williams was able to get control late in the third and pinned Thurston at the 4:34 mark.
“I feel a little bit bad for Joey. He was right there,” Nace said. “The kid was projected No. 2 in the state and he knew that. I think he was just coming out like ‘I’ll just wrestle you.’ He was doing great until the last 25 seconds of the match. Something happened there, he lost his balance and the kid was big.
“Joey will be back next year, so we’re real proud of him and looking forward to him coming back next year.”
After Saturday’s early session, Teays Valley sits in ninth position with 27 team points.
The three Vikings return to Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center at 6:30 tonight to continue their championship journey.
“We’re not done yet. We’re going to work on these kids and get them healthy,” Nace said. “They’ve got one more match to get in the semi consos and I think they both can do it if they wrestle like they just did.”
Amanda-Clearcreek senior Grant Guiler squared off against West Muskingum’s Kaleb Mcfee in the second round of the 150-pound consolation bracket with Mcfee scoring a 4-1 decision.
“Losing is not fun, it sucks that I’m out for the year, but it is what it is,” Guiler said. “I’ve beat that kid twice, so I went out there with the mindset that I was going to kill him.
“He knew what I’ve been doing. He knew I was going to hit the fireman and he tried to clench down on my arm and I couldn’t get anything from it. He played a lot of defense. His opportunities opened and he caught me a few times.”
“Grant and that kid have seen each other a bunch this year,” AC coach Troy Langermeier said. “They did get to know each other’s wrestling styles. You could see it out there, very defensive match, they both knew what was coming.”
Guiler wraps up the year with a 40-10 record.
AC also was represented at the tournament by senior Bobby Pieratt, who competed at 144 pounds.
“I’m proud of both of our kids. You get up here every match is going to be tough,” Langermeier said. “Coming off a shortened year last year, the Covid year before, I can’t be more proud of these guys. The way they battled to get here.
“They’ve set the standard and set the bar high for the younger kids who know the expectations now.”