MOUNT VERNON — The long journey to the promised land is complete for four area wrestlers. Now, it’s time to see whether they will be able to take home some of the hardware available.
Mount Vernon’s Collin Riley, Centerburg’s Jimmy Alexander, Fredericktown’s Cody McGuire and Utica’s Bryce Stewart will all begin wrestling in the state tournament Thursday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. Championship preliminaries begin at 3 p.m. with the three Division III wrestlers. Riley will wrestle at 5:45 p.m.
All four wrestlers had impressive showings in district competition and are now ready for the bright lights of the state tournament.
Riley (40-4) finished second in the Division I district at 135 pounds and will face Sam McIntosh (36-7) of Lyndhurst Brush in his first-round match. This is Riley’s second trip to the state tournament, as he finished eighth overall a year ago.
“We’re trying to stay at basically the same level and not change a lot,” said Mount Vernon coach John Brown. “It boils down to what he believes in. If he believes in himself, we’ll do some wrestling. He’s been there before, so he’s ready to go.”
Riley will be facing a familiar opponent in McIntosh. The Yellow Jacket senior posted a 7-2 victory over McIntosh in the Maumee Bay Classic Invitational earlier this season.
“He’s a real tall, skinny kid. It was hard (for Riley) to finish anything because of the height differential,” Brown said. “He pretty much outwrestled him. He’s just got to do it again. He needs to attack and finish his shots.”
A win would put Riley possibly up against Nick Barber of Lakewood St. Edward, the winner of the Lorain District. Also in Riley’s half of the bracket is Ty Davis of West Chester Lakota West, the favorite going into the tournament. Riley lost to Davis earlier this year. One of his other losses was to Cody Shivener of Springboro, who also made the state tournament.
“He’s wrestled two of the best already. We seek out the best in our schedule,” said Brown. “The key at state is believing in yourself. He’s capable of wrestling well against anybody. He’s just got to put forth a good effort and get to the next round.”