Havens fighting for third, Graham going for seventh
by John Howley / sportingpumpkin.com
COLUMBUS — Cam McDanel came through in the third period Saturday night to punch his ticket to a Division I state title match Sunday night.
He’ll be joined Sunday by Teays Valley teammates Gunner Havens – who is working toward a possible third-place finish – and Zander Graham, who will be wrestling for seventh.
At 190 pounds, McDanel battled with St. Edwards’ Jonny Slaper Saturday night with only Slaper getting a point through two periods.
In the third period, McDanel (41-3) got a reversal and three back points to go up 5-1 and made that hold up to earn his second straight trip to a state title match. (Last season, McDanel was second at 175 pounds.)
“I was struggling to find a shot. He came out tough, real strong,” the junior said. “I weathered the storm in the first period. Then go for it second and third and that’s where I executed. Once I got him tired, I got that turn and rode it out.”
“That just showed some leadership, some experience and poise on his part – just knowing the situation and don’t panic,” TV coach Todd Nace said. “He’s not usually looking for reversals, and it was there, he took the reversal and he just goes to work on top. We got the near fall and kept riding him and kept him down. That just blew the match open.
“I think being here before, he’s very patient, a very mature wrestler.”
McDanel’s win sets up a championship match against Dublin Coffman senior Seth Shumate — the defending state champion at 190 pounds. Shumate has a 46-3 record with one of those losses coming in overtime during last week’s district final against McDanel.
“I’m ready. I actually want the match again,” McDanel said. “A lot of people are saying that it was a fluke, but everyone is going to be here to see it tomorrow. I’m ready to do it again in front of everybody, this time.”
Shumate advanced to the finals with a 47-second pin, won his second match by default and won the semifinal with a 12-4 major decision.
“The rematch coming up from last week is huge – a two-time state champion versus us,” Nace said. “It’s going to be a barn burner. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
McDanel is nursing a cut just below his right eye suffered in practice earlier this week, but it hasn’t been an issue in his first three matches.
“I think it busted open a little bit in that match. We had to get stitches on Tuesday and it hasn’t busted since then,” McDanel said. “It doesn’t bother me a ton.”
The cut came during one of his regular workouts with assistant coach Ryan Ford. A former college wrestler, Ford tests McDanel in practice and McDanel wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Coach Ford, he’s better than any other partner I could get in the whole state. I don’t know how he didn’t go like Olympic or something,” McDanel said. “He knows what I do because we wrestle so much, but I think he’s truly helped me find my flaws and what to fix. Wrestling with him all year, I can definitely tell from the beginning of the year to here, that I’ve gained so much more experience.
“He’s a great help to me and I couldn’t be where I am without him this year.”
The championship matches begin at 5:15 Sunday night.
Motivated by Saturday morning’s loss in the 106-pound championship quarterfinals, Teays Valley junior Gunner Havens went right at Anthony Wayne’s Zachary Bergman Saturday night.
“I had a disappointing loss in the quarters,” Havens said. “Coming in as a junior and returning placer, my goal was, obviously, to win so that was heartbreaking. The next two days is all about making up for it. I’m going to go out there and dominate.”
Havens had Bergman (40-14) pinned in 25 seconds.
“I think it was just that fire from not making the semis like my goal was,” he said.
Havens, who finished eighth at 106 pounds in last year’s championships, can now do no worse than sixth.
“We can’t contain him in the room right now,” Nace saidof Havens’ energy. “He is disappointed that he’s not in the finals so what’s the next best thing? Get third place. Well, you’ve got to win this match to get to the next round. He was focused and goes out and dominates and then he’s into the next round.
“His goal is to go as high as he can on the podium.”
Sunday morning he’ll face Elder’s Konner Lambers (41-3), a freshman who won his first two matches 5-0 and 5-2 before losing 6-0 in the championship semifinals. The winner of their match will wrestle for third place, while the loser will drop to the fifth-place match.
Graham went up against Wadsworth’s Nick Humphrys (41-12) in the 144-pound consolation quarterfinals.
Graham had a 4-1 lead in the second period but an escape and late reversal put Humphrys up 5-1 entering the third.
With a recurring shoulder injury bothering Graham, Humphrys was able to get him down and advance with a pin at the 3:42 mark.
“Zander wrestled really well up to the point where he got in a bad situation and couldn’t get out of it,” Nace said. “The kid kind of torqued on his shoulder again. He’s been battling that (shoulder) all year long and we’re really proud of him for doing that and battling back and forth.
“Hopefully he can come back and get seventh place. You want finish up on top. He’ll ice it tonight and we’ll be back here again in 12 hours and do it again.”
Havens will be back on the mat at 10 a.m. Sunday in the consolation semifinals while Graham will be in the consolation finals fighting for seventh – those matches are set to begin at 11 a.m.
The Vikings now have 43 teams points, good for sixth place. St. Edwards holds the team lead with 142 points and Perrysburg is second with 137.5.