COLUMBUS — Day One of the 2010 OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament was nearly perfect for area wrestlers as three out of four won their opening matches and will move on to the Championship Quarterfinal round today. All four still have a chance to place high on the podium.
Mount Vernon’s 215-pounder, Dane Cullen, dominated his Division I bout against sophomore Ty Walz of Lakewood St. Edwards, throwing him to the mat and pinning him in 1:11.
“It actually feels real good,” said Cullen. “I had a nice shot in there so I think it’s really good. (Walz) wasn’t doing anything but hitting me and pushing up against me. He didn’t try to shoot at me at all. I was waiting for him to charge at me. I got him, picked him up and slammed him down.”
“It’s hard to match Dane’s strength,” said Mount Vernon coach Jon Brown. “That put (Walz) on the defensive and that was the key.”
Also in Division I, Colin Riley of Mount Vernon gave up some early points against Mike Carlone of Mayfield in their 130 pound matchup. After being down 6-1, Riley came back late in the bout and was down by 6-5 with only eight seconds left to go in the match. Unfortunately for Riley, he wasn’t able to score and Carlone got a last-second takedown to ice the win, 8-5.
“Colin has proven that he is ready to be down here and deserves to be down here,” said Brown. “He did a nice job. He got down a little bit early. He gave up a takedown at the end of the first period, which really hurt us. I thought we fought back well. I think we pushed (Carlone) the whole time. (Carlone) was ready to crumble. We just needed more time.”
Riley came back later and defeated Danny Ballou of Cincinnati Western Hills in the first consolation round, wearing him down for a 5-2 win.
“It was hard work,” said Riley of his first state win. “I’m pretty tired. I just tried to be smart and watched what he did.”
Riley blamed his opening loss on being a little too cautious at the start. Now, however, he is just one step from being All-Ohio.
“I ended up being cautious and that really cost me the match,” said Riley. “I came back by believing in myself. I just kept pushing and pushing. He got to me, but I came back. Now, I’ve got a win, if I get another win, I’m on the podium for sure.”
Utica’s 130-pounder, Dylan Wheeler, who was feeling a bit under the weather, narrowly defeated Eddie Sanders of Hamilton Badin, 2-1, despite clearly outmuscling Sanders throughout their Division III match.
“I stayed on top with my strength,” said Wheeler. “When you feel comfortable in a match, you just feel comfortable, so I just stayed with it. I just kind of went with (using my strength.) It seemed to be working so I didn’t want to change up. I didn’t take him down in the first period so I said, ‘Let’s just stick on top and see what happens.’ Once I got a reversal, I just rode it out. This is State. A win is a win. If you win by one, you come back and you can win the next round.”
Four-time State qualifier Mike Shepard of Highland took a step toward his first trip to the podium, defeating Phil Hurst of Norwalk, 8-4, in a matchup of 130-pounders in Division II. It appeared as though Shepard, who came out fast and loose, was going to pin his opponent right out of the box.
“I was hoping I could catch him fast and get the match over with quick,” said Shepard. “I was fired up, but I was really relaxed and I was laughing and stuff in the bullpen, so I was just trying to have some fun I guess.”
Hurst fought back, but Shepard held on to remain in the championship bracket for another day.
“That was kind of my plan — score early because, if you can score a lot in the beginning, you can take it easy in the end and not have to come back,” said Shepard. “That’s what I was trying to do.”
Even a seasoned wrestler like Shepard feels a sense of relief to get that initial match out of the way.
“Oh yeah,” said Shepard. “Now, I’m one step closer to placing. Now, my focus is getting one more win. I don’t care when it is. I just want to win one more and place.”
Notes: Scotty Robinson of Johnstown was defeated in his Division III, 152 pound first rounder by Thomas Fullenkamp of Versailles to drop down into the Consolation bracket. Later, Robinson beat James Gerken of LaGrange Keystone by a 11-9 decision. ... Brent Allerding of Loudonville defeated Bob Bennett of Bellaire, 3-1, to move up in the Division III championship bracket at 215 pounds. ... Clear Fork got a pair of first round wins on Day One. Austin Maneese (140 pounds), pinned Mason Robinson of Heath at the 4:34 mark of their match. Fellow Colt Brandon O’Neill (171 pounds) decisioned Jeff Oberdick of Martins Ferry, 8-4. Both move on to the Championship Quarterfinals. ... Paige Nemec of Mantua Crestwood, the only girl to gain a State berth, lost her 103 pound, Division II opener to Trevor Fiorucci of Olentangy Lewis Center, 8-0. Going into the consolation round, Nemec had to put the first loss behind her. “I just want to stay focused,” said Nemec. “There’s always been pressure on me but I just have to stay focused to get through these matches.” Nemec wound up defeating John Martin of Wapakoneta, 3-0, on Thursday evening to stay alive in the Division II consolation bracket.