Rams’ Pritchard fifth, Clyde’s Miller sixth at state

COLUMBUS – Tears were flowing Saturday morning in the consolation round of the Division II state wrestling tournament. Some from kids that may have fell short in a match, and some even from winners when their ride has come to an end.

Nobody wants to see their career end, but everyone realizes sooner or later, the time will come to take off the singlet.

But if a career has to end, standing on the podium at state is pretty good way to close it out.

Upper Sandusky’s Tylor Pritchard (220) and Clyde’s Blake Miller (152) ended their careers that way, placing fifth and sixth, respectively Saturday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

“It’s bittersweet,” Pritchard said. “I’m glad I went out on a win but I never want it to be over. So it’s hard. It’s really hard.

Both Pritchard and Miller dropped down to the consolation bracket after falling in Friday’s championship semifinals. Their first matches Saturday weren’t kind either as Miller dropped a 7-2 decision to Granville’s Dain Steffeny and Pritchard was pinned by Sean Rutherford of Norton.

Pritchard beat Rutherford in Thursday’s opening round, but was caught trying for a late takedown while trailing in points.

In fact, both Pritchard’s losses over the weekend came to wrestlers he had previously beaten. His semifinal loss was to Troy Caldwell of Jonathan Alder, who he’d beaten during the regular season.

“Everyone is tough down here,” Pritchard said. “You realize everyone has their good days. Sometimes you’re better than one guy one day, the next day he beats you. Just because everyone, the talent level down here is out of this world.

“It’s nice knowing that I am just as good as these guys. I could very easily be in the finals right now, just as easy as I got fifth place.”

In the consolation finals, Miller fell behind Jeff Hojnacki of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA and couldn’t get a late turn to even up the match as he dropped a 4-0 decision.

Miller acknowledged that a sixth-place finish at state, the same place he finished here a year ago, is a good ending, but he wished he could’ve gave a better showing Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s not a bad place but I could’ve done better,” Miller said. “I just wasn’t feeling it and didn’t wrestle my match The last two matches.

“I don’t even know really. I just didn’t feel good. I didn’t prepare myself the night before. I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I didn’t feel good but that’s no excuse. I still should’ve came out and won.”

His coach, Rob Jennings, said Miller has carved out a nice niche for himself in the long and storied history of the Clyde program.

“I’m going to sit down and do the banquet program this week and he’s going to be in the career categories all over the place and to be able to do that at Clyde with the tradition and the history that we’ve been able to have over the last 30some years, it’s awesome,” Jennings said. “I think long run he’s really going to appreciate everything he’s been able to do. However, obviously right now he’s extremely disappointed.”

Miller agreed that looking back, it was a career to be proud of.

“It was a great career. I want to thank all my coaches for everything they ever done for me cause I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” he said. “Just my family, and Beau (Minnick) – Beau’s my drill partner – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them either. It’s been a great career honestly. The best four years of my life so far.”

Pritchard in his consolation final ended his career on a positive note, dropping Alliance’s Adontis Watson by a 4-0 decision.

“That was the goal to get on the podium. I’m happy with it,” Pritchard said. “I’m glad I went out there and had fun my last match. Just doing what I love.”

His coach and stepfather Chris Rodriguez says it’s a nice ending to years of hard work.

“Wasn’t to be this week for him, but he should feel good about what he’s accomplished, not just this weekend but in his career on the wrestling mat,” Rodriguez said.

“It hasn’t been four years, it’s been a lot longer than that,” he added. “We’ve been doing for years, a little biddy kid until today. For me to sit here and tell you about it in 13 seconds won’t happen. I’m proud of him, I’m proud of what he’s become and I can’t way to see where he ends up.”

Where ended up Saturday, was the podium.