State title: It’s just a match away

COLUMBUS – While Columbian’s Seth Williams was walking through the Schottenstein Center on his way to a media interview following his quarterfinal match, a loud scream of disgust could be heard echoing through the hallways.

That scream didn’t come from Williams. He was a winner.

Later in the day, Williams was again a winner. That puts him where no other Columbian wrestler has been – the state championship match.

“It hasn’t really set in yet,” Williams said moments after winning his semifinal. “I’m waiting for it to kick in. I’ll get excited, get pumped up and get ready for this next match tomorrow.”

“He’s ready,” Columbian coach Chad Long added. “That’s all we can say. You’re going to see how ready he is. He likes challenge and people doubting how good he really is. We’re ready. We’ve been eying this up, watching this for a long time.”

Williams opened his day with a 6-3 win in his Division II 152-pound quarterfinal match against Warren Howland’s David Brian Whisler, someone who Williams has trained with.

“I worked with him all summer and all since last year,” Williams said. “It just felt like a regular practice, like we were in the practice room doing normal stuff. I came out on top so that’s all that matters.”

In the afternoon session, Williams said he was at the best he’s been during the tournament, and it showed on the scoreboard as he dominated Benjamin Schram of Bellbrook 13-2.

“My semifinal, I was all warmed up,” he said. “I weighed out. I ate good, ate right. Got my weight to normal and just did what I had to do.”

“The kid that he wrestled in the semifinals, tough kid, but Seth was just way too good on his feet, and even looked really good turning the kid,” Long said. “Typical Seth match. He was able to get some food in his belly. You saw a lot more energy than you have those first few matches. I felt really good with our chances in the semifinals and Seth dominated that kid pretty easily.”

Williams already has climbed higher than any Columbian wrestler ever has. Now, he looks to reach the pinnacle when he wrestles Alex Marinelli of St. Paris Graham today for the state title.

“Marinelli, I scouted him a couple times,” Williams said. “We’re the same style. It should be a good match.”

Williams won’t be the only Tornado to stand on the podium today. 132-pounder Derik Kopp will wrestle in the seventh place match.

Kopp had an up-and-down day. He dropped his championship quarterfinal match to Kade Kowalski of Dresden Tri-Valley 6-2, but rallied to score a dramatic 5-3 win in overtime against Ron Foster of Lisbon Beaver Local.

Kopp held a 3-1 lead late before Foster scored a takedown in the final seconds. Kopp, though, responded in the sudden victory period with a two-point take down to lock up a spot on the podium.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “Ever since I can remember walking, I always wanted to be a state placer and its finally a dream come true. It’s the best feeling.

“After my first match, I was really upset about losing. My coaches just talked some sense into me. You have to let it go cause you can’t let it eat you up or you’re not going to perform the way you should.”

He same philosophy held true after allowing the match to go to overtime.=

“I just had to let it go and keep going. No matter what, just keep going,” he said.

Kopp dropped his nighttime consolation round match 11-0 to Noah Whitley of Walsh Jesuit. Long, though said that doesn’t diminish what Kopp has accomplished.

“Kopp, he was able to come back. He gave up a takedown right at the end, it goes to overtime and he was able to come through,” Long said. “Nice to see him come through because he’s put in a lot of hard work . He’s put a lot of sweat and tears into the Tiffin program. It’s nice to see him get rewarded.”

Mason Correll wasn’t as fortunate in his 138-pound consolation match. He dropped his first match of the day, 6-3 to Justin Smith of Canal Fulton Northwest and finishes outside the top eight.

The junior, though, says this year’s experience will help him as he looks to come back next year.

“It’s great just to be able to make it down here. Next year I want to stand on the podium my senior year,” he said. “I know that I can make it here now, so my next goal just to place and get up on the podium.”

Kopp will wrestle his seventh-place match at 11 a.m. today while the championship round will begin at 5:45 p.m.