COSHOCTON — Three Mid-Buckeye Conference wrestlers are about to find out what the big time is all about.
Centerburg’s Jimmy Alexander, Fredericktown’s Cody McGuire and Utica’s Bryce Stewart all qualified for the state tournament with standout performances in the Division III District tournament Saturday at Coshocton High School.
Alexander finished third overall at 145 pounds, while McGuire (189) and Stewart (285) were both fourth. That enabled the MBC trio to advance to the state tournament, which starts Thursday at 3 p.m. at The Ohio State University.
In the opening match Thursday, Alexander (46-2) will face Austin Maneese of Clear Fork (37-8), who finished second in the Northeast District. McGuire (39-7) will take on Mitchell Gross of Norwalk St. Paul (30-5), who won the Northeast District and placed fifth in the state at 171 pounds last year. Stewart (34-9) will have a tough opening battle as he faces Mimmo Lytle of Swanton (36-0). Lytle was third in the state last year and eighth the year before.
Saturday in the district tournament, Alexander had a tough opening match with Mason Gulash of Shadyside in the championship semifinals. Gulash had recorded technical falls in his first two matches, but Alexander allowed him just seven points. Problem was, the Centerburg senior only scored two to drop into the consolation bracket.
“He (Alexander) had a tough match against the Shadyside kid. We knew it would be tough. We wondered how we could shut down all that offense,” said Centerburg coach Mike Linkenhoker. “He kept him to just seven, but unfortunately, he only scored two.
“He was a little down when he lost. We told him he had five or 10 minutes to stew about it, then he had to get over it and start concentrating on the next match. His goal was to be a state qualifier and to do that, he had to pull it together.”
Alexander then faced Hannibal Tate of Columbus Ready. With a possible spot in the state tournament on the line, Alexander got it going and cruised to a 5-0 shutout win.
With a spot in the state tournament secured, Alexander could relax and focus on improving his draw. After giving up the first takedown, Alexander scored seven of the next eight points to post a 7-3 victory over Tusky Valley’s Cody Hodge in the third-place match.
“We’re not sure what fired him up — whether it was the takedown or the two bloody noses he suffered,” said Linkenhoker of Alexander’s run in the third-place match. “He’s pretty satisfied (qualifying), but he wants to try and win when he gets there. He’s got to win two matches. That would definitely put him on the podium. To be a state placer would be a nice bonus.”