McDanel, Thurston take successful first step in Division I tournament


COLUMBUS — Teays Valley advanced two of its three wrestlers to Saturday’s action in the Division I state championships Friday. 

Two-time state runnerup Camden McDanel and fellow senior Joey Thurston each won their openers. 

It was a rough day for their fellow senior Gunner Havens as the two-time state placer found himself on the wrong end of a pair of pins Friday, bringing his high school career to a close. 

McDanel, who came in second at 182 pounds as a sophomore and second at 190 pounds as a junior, was focused on the task at hand Friday – to get a win and advance. 

“The most important match is the first match of the tournament. Get out there, do what you do, wrestle good, try not to be out there too long. He was a tough kid so that was a great first match for me,” he said. 

McDanel (39-2) was in control from the start in his match with Brecksville sophomore Riley McPherson (30-14) and won with a pin at the 2:30 mark.

“Me and my dad always look at it as one match at a time. My focus is on quarterfinals next,” McDanel said of not looking ahead. “I’m all about that match, who cares who wins the other matches. We have to win quarterfinals — get to the semis. It doesn’t matter who is going to be there.”

He’ll face Centerville senior Gunnar Pool (38-8) Saturday morning. 

Teays Valley’s Camden McDanel pinned Riley McPherson of Brecksville in 2:30.

“Cam — we know he’s really special,” TV coach Todd Nace said. “To go out there and get three or four takedowns within a minute and then get on top and turn him, what we call move a ball and chain and then an arm bar, that’s pretty hard to get out of with him.”

TV heavyweight Joey Thurston (35-7) battled with Uniontown Lake junior Anthony Miller (28-15) and advanced with a 4-1 decision. 

“He was a really big guy, but I knew if I just kept calm during the match and kept going, I’d end up winning in the end,” Thurston said. “In that first period, if I can score, I’ll score. The rest of the match, those big guys get real sweaty and slippery, so it’s just hold him off, wait for him to make a mistake and try to capitalize on it.”

He’ll face Archbishop Moeller sophomore Lucas Stuerenberg (42-13) in tomorrow’s championship quarterfinals. After coming up a match short of placing the last two years, a quarterfinal win would guarantee a spot on the podium Sunday night. 

“I’ve just got to keep being confident in myself,” he said. “Go into tomorrow confident and keep wrestling how I know how to.”

“Joey wrestled really smart. I’ve been telling people how his IQ has really increased in the last three or four weeks,” Nace said. “He’s made some mistakes earlier in the year, I think we’ve overcome those and he’s going to do pretty well here.”

Teays Valley’s Joey Thurston opened the tournament with a 4-1 decision against Anthony Miller (Uniontown Lake).

Havens, wrestling in the 113-pound weight class, opened his tournament against Oregon Clay freshman Garrison Weisner (42-6). Weisner advanced with a pin at the three-minute mark. 

Havens (31-9) came back against Ross senior Jordan Miller (34-16). Miller advanced by pinning Havens at 2:51.

It was a tough end for the Kent State signee who placed seventh as a sophomore and fifth as a junior in the 106-pound weight class and a 144-23 career record

“It looked good, I thought he felt good. He rode him most of that second period. It just wasn’t his weekend,” Nace said. 

“I hurt for him. He’s a four-time qualifier,” Nace added. “He wanted to get a little higher placement than last year, but we’re up a weight class, also. He’s wrestled a lot of good kids this year and has a good record. He set the pin record at the school; 115 I think he has now. 

“I just feel bad for him right now.”

McDanel and Thurston will be back on the mats at approximately 11:15 Saturday.

Teays Valley’s Gunner Havens wrestles Oregon Clay’s Garrison Weisner in the consolation round.
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