Take 3: Columbian trio wins NOL titles
Seth Williams wasted little time, Roman Williams nearly ran out of time, and for Mason Correll, it was finally his time.
At the end of the day, all three took the time to climb to the top of the podium as Northern Ohio League champions.
The two Williamses have combined to go 7 for 7 when it comes to winning NOL titles. Seth Williams, already one of the most decorated wrestlers in Columbian history, concluded his career as a four-time NOL champion.
“Coming in here as a freshman from a new school and winning the NOL title four times, that’s pretty rare,” he said after claiming the 170-pound title.
“Winning four NOL titles is a big thing for him,” Columbian coach Chad Long said. “For a lot of his accomplishments, this year he’s been able to win four titles in a lot of the tournaments that we’re in. He never seems to surprise us. He does everything first class. He’s a great kid and a great role model for all the young kids that we have in our wresting program to look up to for the future.”
Saturday wasn’t one of the longer days of work Williams has put in. In his semifinal match he pinned Taryll Tye of Sandusky in 51 seconds. His final match against Fabian Ortega of Willard went a touch longer, but the result was the same: a pin in 1:38.
“Today was basically, I’ve been sick, try to get the sickness out,” Williams said. “Try to work on my setups. Cross my T’s, and dot my I’s. Get everything down and get ready for sectionals.”
Roman Williams, a junior, will get his chance to become a four-time champion next year. Though title No. 3 looked far from a certainty. In fact, it looked as if Williams would have to settle for second place.
In the 145-pound final, Williams was locked in a tight contest with Norwalk’s Jacob Kluding. Kluding held a 1-0 lead in the third period, riding on top. As the clock ticked down, Williams desperately tried for an escape or reversal, but wasn’t able to break free as the clock hit all zeros.
Turned out, there was a reason he couldn’t break free. The referee called Kluding for illegal use of the hands, for holding Williams’ headgear. Williams got a penalty point and a chance at sudden death overtime.
There, Williams scored the winning takedown to claim his third NOL title.
“That was probably the greatest feeling I ever had winning the NOL title,” he said. “I thought it was over, but I was able to get that one last chance and get the take down.
“I thought it was over. I went from crying ’cause I lost to crying ’cause I won. I’m just excited.”
“It was an exciting match. I just wish he’d put more energy in like he did at the end of the match throughout the whole match from beginning to end,” Long said. “But it was the right call. Roman would’ve probably got a reversal at the end if the kid didn’t have his headgear. Going into the second life I guess you can say in overtime, he countered a beautiful shot right off of what they kid did, and he’s able to come through.”
Williams said once he got a second life, there was no doubt he’d be able to finish.
“When I got the penalty point, I knew when I got to overtime I got a whole new resurgence to get the takedown,” he said. “As soon as I got the chance, I knew for a fact I was going to take him down, it was over.”
While Seth and Roman are no strangers to taking NOL titles, it’s a new experience for Correll.
“It feels good to finally win my first NOL title,” he said. “There was a big gap (in the final match). there wasn’t a chance he was going to win.”
A year ago at the NOL Championships, Correll dropped a controversial final match and had to settle for second place. This year he left no doubt about who was the cream of the crop in the 152-pound weight class.
Correll opened his day pinning Shelby’s Wyatt Rose in 1:12. His semifinal turned out to be his toughest match of the day as he claimed a 6-1 decision over Sandusky’s Ben Fuller. The final was simply a coronation as he topped Gabe Smythe of Bellevue 11-1.
“My mindset, I was focused the entire day,” Correll said. “I just was focused on winning. I came in prepared and knew that I had to do it. I went out there and did what I had to.
“He dominated the match,” Long added. “Mason wrestled well, very solid. And an 11-1 score, very dominant.”
Two other Columbian wrestlers reached the finals, finishing as runners-up.
Lalo Ludwick picked up two pins before running into Norwalk’s Charlie Nash in the finals.
“He has to get use to the stage,” Long said of his 106-pounder. “He’s going to be in the finals for first and second a lot of times here through the rest of his career. He just has to accept it and not get overwhelmed and scared when wrestling.”
Drew Hoffman had a dramatic semifinal victory against Kaden Moore of Willard at 113 pounds. Hoffman was down 2-0 heading into the third period before scoring an escape and the winning takedown in the final 20 seconds.
Hoffman’s run came to an end in the finals against Derek Wilson of Norwalk.
“Drew’s been just plugging away at it,” Long said. “He beat the No. 1 seed kid in the semifinals. I think Drew is improving so much from the beginning of the year until now with his mental toughness. He’s getting better and better.”
Also placing for Columbian were Tyler Mesnard, finishing third at 160-pounds, and Joey Krajewski, taking fourth at 126.
Krajewski was in one of just three weight classes with the full seven wrestlers. He dropped his first-round match but came back to win two in a row before falling in the third place match.
“I think Joe was a huge surprise. He wrestled tough this whole tournament,” Long said. “He was able to come through with some big wins to get there for third and fourth. I still think he had a great opportunity to win that match as well, but he just has to put a consistent tournament together.
“Tyler Mesnard was disappointed he lost in overtime in the semifinals, but to still come back and be dominant in his 5-0 win was a good achievement,” he said. “It shows that just ’cause you’re not in for first and second you can still achieve. He was still able to come back and finish third; good class.”