Upper’s Pritchard hanging around at state

COLUMBUS – Tylor Pritchard has been to state before. But a whole new experience awaits him.

“Day 2,” Pritchard said when meeting with reporters after his opening match.

A year ago, Pritchard dropped his first two matches, exiting the tournament after the first day. This time around, he’s going to stick around a bit longer.

Despite a tough first round draw at the Division II state wrestling tournament, matching with up a third-place finisher from last year in Norton’s Sean Rutherford, Pritchard rallied late for a 3-2 sudden victory, and a spot in today’s championship quarterfinals at 220-pounds.

“It was very tiring and I’m happy,” Pritchard said. “I mean that’s the first time I won a match here. So, I mean, you beat a guy that got third last year and a predicted champ, that’s awesome. That’s awesome.”

Pritchard was a bit out of breath after the match, but it can be argued his conditioning is what carried him through.

Rutherford held a 2-0 lead going into the third round, but took injury time before the round in what seemed like a move to simply catch his breath. Pritchard picked up an escape point in the round, then was the beneficiary of a stalling call on Rutherford with a second to go to send the match to overtime.

“We knew he wasn’t really injured, he was taking injury time,” Pritchard said. “We knew he was tired. Shoot, my conditioning is better than most of the guys down here, so that’s what won me that match. Just practicing hard and all that conditioning.”

Pritchard was able to go in the down position in the overtime and nearly got an escape before Rutherford held on to his foot. The result was another stalling call and the match for Pritchard.

“Tylor, he just keeps plugging along,” said Upper Sandusky coach Chris Rodriguez. “We’ve been talking all year long, one-point wins will get you on the podium. And he’s happy with a one-point win. He doesn’t need to score 20 points. Win by one point, walk off with your hand raised and feel good about it.

“Tylor wrestled a tough kid; the Rutherford boy is real a tough kid. Tylor’s a real tough too. People kind of doubt him a little bit, ’cause he’s from Upper probably, I don’t know. But they’ll remember him.”

The day wasn’t as kind for the three other Rams in Columbus. Seniors Carson Mengerink (132) and Alex Kenner (160) had their careers come to an end after dropping two matches Friday. Also losing twice was 113-pounder, sophomore Thurston Dyer.

“Thurston’s got another chance, but those two boys Alex and Carson, they’re done,” Rodriguez said. “It’s unfortunate, but it has to end somewhere. Better to end down here than someplace else.

“All three of those boys, they don’t ever quit. They don’t stop fighting and that’s why they’re here. Thurston’s going to be back. We’ll have to see what happens with Carson and Alex, but that pretty much tells you the story about Upper wrestling. They don’t ever quit.”

Dyer fell behind in his opening round match 7-0 after two periods against Lane Peters of Claymont. Dyer rallied in the third period but fell by an 8-4 decision.

His consolation match with Brian Persinger of Wooster Triway was as close as could be. Persinger was able to score a second-period escape of Dyer, and it held up for a 1-0 win.

“It’s great that I got down here, the way I had to get down here, the way I had to qualify, but it’s kind of a disappointing showing,” Dyer said. “I might have not been moving quick enough that first period. I should’ve had a takedown two or three times that first period.”

Mengerink fell by a 10-6 decision in the opening round to Tyler Knul of Circleville, then dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Chandler Golec of Claymont in the consolation round.

Mengerink had a chance to tie the match in the third period, but couldn’t get the escape.

Kenner had one of the toughest draws in the opening round, against the state’s top ranked wrestler in Alex Marinelli of St. Pairs Graham. Kenner opened with a takedown of the defending state champion, but Marinelli proved to be too much in a 26-11 technical fall.

In his consolation match, Kenner fell behind William Navin of Granville 7-0 before getting things going in the third period. Kenner scored four takedowns but couldn’t get a turn and fell by an 11-8 decision.

“It (stinks) cause it’s the last match of high school, but it just happened like that,” Kenner said. “Wish it didn’t, but it did.”

“Wish I could’ve got that in the beginning of the match, I think it would’ve been a lot different than it ended,” he said of his late rally.

“Nobody wants to lose, of course, especially those three boys,” Rodriguez said. “Those boys are very competitive and they want to win. I’m more concerned about the loss of them from the team than the loss in the match. They’re great kids, great leaders and they’re going to be missed.”

While the journey has come to an end for Mengerink, Kenner and Dyer, Pritchard’s keeps going on. He’ll compete in a championship quarterfinal match when action resumes today at 10:40 a.m.