HILLIARD — For the second straight year, Mount Vernon’s Collin Riley is headed to the state wrestling meet.
And for the second straight year, he’ll be Mount Vernon’s lone representative.
On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets saw early success dissolve into an afternoon of defeat at the second day of the district wrestling tournament at Hilliard Darby High School.
Riley qualified by virtue of his victory over Groveport-Madison’s David Reynolds, 5-2, in the 135-pound championship semifinal. The win guaranteed Riley a Top 2 finish.
Three of his teammates would see bids for the state meet slip just out of reach.
In a 20-minute stretch, all three Jackets — Kyle Horner, Matt Lybarger and Jordan Montgomery — wrestled in consolation semifinal matches. A win meant advancing to the third-place match, and an automatic bid in the state meet. A loss meant falling back to the fifth-place match and no automatic bid.
“It’s a tough place to be,” Mount Vernon head coach John Brown said. “All the pressure from all the matches. And we didn’t perform well.”
Horner, whose match in the 140-pound bracket started first, fell behind early to Pickerington North’s Brandon Howes. Horner was wrapped up and sent to his back. Howes was given credit for two near-falls. In the second period, Horner managed a reversal, but Howes had too much confidence at that point, scoring throughout the match to land a 10-2 major victory.
Montgomery’s 171-pound match started during Horner’s. Montgomery was locked in a tight battle with Dublin Coffman’s Matt Muncrief. Behind by one point in the third, there was anticipation in the air that Montgomery would score quickly and take the lead. But it didn’t happen. Instead, Muncrief scored a takedown, and Montgomery was never able to recover. As time ran out, Montgomery sat on the mat, appearing stunned.
Lybarger (160 pounds) was having the best day up to that point. Lybarger had dropped his only match on Friday, but he won his first three matches Saturday to get to the consolation semifinal. The match against Grove City’s Jose Hughes was one of the more exciting matches of the day. Tied at 1 with under a minute to go in the third period, Lybarger got control of Hughes’ legs and scored a takedown. Hughes escaped seconds later, but Lybarger maintained a 3-2 lead. Hughes was frantic, going after Lybarger with everything he had to try to score a tying point. Lybarger, sensing Hughes’ desperation, went for the kill by attempting another takedown. Instead, Hughes wrapped him up and got credit for a reversal and a near-fall with 15 seconds to go.
Three Yellow Jackets. Three defeats in 20 minutes.
“Lybarger had his win in hand,” Brown said. “He went for the kill and lost the match. If he lays back and takes the two, he probably wins. But that’s why you’re here, to go for the kill.”