by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
COLUMBUS — While half of them needed a second chance to do it, all six of the area’s Division III wrestlers moved on to Saturday action at the 86th boys state wrestling tournament.
Westfall’s Antony Hoty (113 pounds), Gage Bolt (165) and Bryce Wickline (175) each won their opening round matches to advance to Saturday’s championship quarterfinals.
Westfall’s Hunter Probasco (285) and Amanda-Clearcreek’s Bodie Martin (144) and Peyton Beavers (150) came back in the first consolation round to pick up wins and move on to Saturday morning.
Hoty (43-5) won his opening match 12-8 over Fairland’s CJ Graham (51-7).
“It was hard. He kept head-butting me and hitting me in my mouth,” Hoty said. “I just stayed calm. I Just had to focus on winning my match so I can place this year.”
“We knew that kid was a tough kid, we knew he was strong,” Westfall coach Will Breyer said. “Tony being able to kick it off with a win gave everybody confidence.”
Division III matches started off the tournament and Hoty’s pairing was the second to hit Mat 4. There were a few nerves for the senior as the tournament began.
“Standing on the side of the mat while waiting for Kyle Schroer (Troy Christian) to get done wrestling, my nerves – my whole stomach was doing flips,” he said. “I was just thinking I’ve got to actually win this because everyone’s watching me and, if I lose, that’s not good.”
He’ll have to get rid of the nerves right away Saturday as his return to the mat will be right as wrestling resumes at 9:30. And Hoty will be facing Columbia senior Cole Shulke (46-2).
“I have to focus on beating the No. 2 in the state, which is going to be a really tough task, so I can get a definite spot on the podium,” he said. “That’s all I really want this year.”
Bolt (37-2), a junior, opened against Salineville Southern’s Gabe Bissenbach (32-7) and got his match done quickly as he pinned the junior in 1:53.
“Gage is such an intelligent wrestler,” Breyer said. “I knew once that kid started to kind of do funk on him, Gage caught him and knew what to do. He’s probably one of the most intelligent kids on the team so he knew what to do.”
Wickline (25-5) went the distance with Kirtland senior Louka Babic (35-6) and advanced with an 8-6 decision.
“Bryce is a warrior. Every match he is dogfighting, guys are bleeding, it’s just a tough match and he’s going to grind out every match. It’s just who he is,” Breyer said.
The junior’s training paid off for him Friday, Breyer said. “That boy works harder than everybody. He gets up at 6 a.m., he lifts with the football team, he then comes to practice — he’s just always working. He’s not going to get tired; he’s not going to lose strength. That was the key to that match, that kid got tired, and he didn’t.”
Probasco started his tournament against Eli Criblez (46-1) from Allen East. Criblez placed fourth in the state last year and pinned Probasco in 1:44.
The senior came back with Black River junior Cooper McKean (35-16) in the consolation round and posted an 11-5 win to stay alive.
“It’s heart with Hunter. He has watched some great wrestlers from Westfall. He wants to be the next one up on that board in the gym. It just beats inside of him,” Breyer said. “Once we figured out what the kid was trying to do, Hunter is one of those intelligent wrestlers that he was able to stop doing what that kid wanted him to do and pull out the win.”
Martin, a freshman at Amanda-Clearcreek, is making the most of his opportunity in Columbus. Despite finishing fifth at 144 pounds last weekend at the district, Martin made the state tournament as an alternate.
That put him in the bracket against Hayden Kuhn (39-3) from Ashland Crestview – Kuhn placed fourth at 132 pounds last year. Martin fell in that match 8-1.
Martin (36-6) came back against Ada junior Clayton McClain (40-12) and advanced with a 13-7 win.
“I had to get my mindset right,” Martin said. “After that match that I lost, I was confused and didn’t want to wrestle. After warmups with Peyton, I got my mind right and decided to go after him and stay on my offense.”
“You felt bad for the other kid, but you’ve got to be ready to go when your name is called,” A-C coach Curtis Martin said of another wrestler having to give up his place at the state and Bodie getting in as an alternate. “We had to take on the No. 3-ranked kid in the state out of the chute. He lost that one, but he dug down and has won a match at the state tournament. That’s pretty good.
“He was in control at the start and then the other kid started pushing back on him and doing some things that Bodie had to catch on to what was going on. He’s a freshman but he’s got a lot of experience. Once he started circling away from that kid’s power, then we were OK again and ended up winning.”
Beavers (40-6) lost his opening match to Mohawk senior Jace Margraf (47-5) by an 8-0 major decision.
He came back with Berkshire senior Josh Brown (25-4) and won a 7-3 decision to stay alive.
“I knew I had to wrestle my hardest if I wanted to keep on wrestling and that’s what I did. I pushed the pace up,” Beavers said. “My conditioning was up. He had a great match, but I was determined not to lose.”
“One thing you can say about Peyton is he knew his back was against the wall and you were going to get his best right there. And that’s what you saw on the mat,” Martin said. “We survived, advanced and we’ll be back tomorrow.
“Bodie and Peyton are freshman and sophomore and here wrestling on the big stage,” Martin added. “Hopefully we can build on that and have a bright future.”
The Division III consolation matches begin a little after noon Saturday.