Six reach podium
Rams' Clary takes third, tops list of area state placers
COLUMBUS — The Saturday of the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament is where wrestlers determine their fate.
Saturday, six local wrestlers were trying to get the best place they could. Three were going for third place and three were in line for seventh.
At the end of the day, just one placed third — Upper Sandusky senior Noah Clary in Division II.
Clary, who has qualified for the state tournament before but never placed, dominated his opponents Saturday in his two matches.
In his first match of the day, the 182-pounder beat Norwalk’s Gabe Phillips by tech fall 16-1, before pinning Dayton Chaminade Julienne’s Hunter Johns in 2:25 to earn third.
“I was looking to make the finals, but that’s how it goes sometimes and I was going to make the most of it, so it’s nice to get third,” Clary said. “We always look to score the most points as possible and to dominate the match. We just work our stuff.
“This means a lot being third, especially coming down twice before and not placing. It’s really fun. I enjoyed it and the third time’s the charm I guess.”
Even before Clary pinned Johns, he was winning 13-0 in the second period. He was ruthless on the mat Saturday and his coach noticed.
“He solidified himself as one of the top three guys in that weight division,” Rams coach Noah Blankenship said. “He wrestled tough and dominant. Even when we lost, we lost tough. Last year he lost to the guy that took second and took fourth. He was in the same scenario as he was last year this year. We just lost the matches.
“He should be a two-time top-four guy. I expect this. I expect this performance from him. Once you get the kids there and they know you expect this from them, they can expect it from themselves. We’ve done our jobs well on sending him off to college to wrestle somewhere in college because I know wants to wrestle somewhere.”
Another year-ending pin came to Columbian 132-pounder Caden Blust in the DII tournament.
Blust started Saturday with a tough, grueling 3-2 loss to Wauseon’s Hunter Yackee. Blust trailed most of the match, but made a flurry of attempts at the end of the match, but just came up short.
So he dropped to the fifth-placed match where he faced Aurora’s Jack Gorman, who knocked Blust out of the winner’s bracket Friday with a 3-2 double overtime win.
Blust didn’t let it happen again.
He came out aggressive with a takedown in the first period and pounced on a Gorman mistake in the second with a pin in 1:16.
“It was just wrestling my match this time. The last time it just wasn’t me out there,” Blust said. “I watched it. Didn’t know who I was watching honestly. I was a lot more comfortable and just wrestling my match.
“This match was for more than fifth or sixth, it was a mental thing for sure. ‘Hey, you got lucky, don’t expect that to happen again.’ It was a really big mental match for me out there.”
Blust responded to adversity with a tough loss Friday and the first loss Saturday to bounce back and place fifth, his best place yet.
“We keep telling (Blust) that he is one of the best at the tournament and to believe in himself,” TC coach Daniel Gilbert said. “You game plan for these matches, but you can’t game plan the extenuating circumstances that come with each. For Blust to bounce and show that resiliency and to absolutely mow down the kid in the finals … we knew. We knew after we dropped the third-place match that we get this rematch with the guy that knocked him out earlier in the tournament due to nerves.
“It was a different outcome this time and it’s a testament to CB. The growth year to year and seeing him grow since seventh grade. The young man he’s becoming is a great one. He’s on the right path. For him next year, we know the ultimate goal is that state title match. We want that state title. We want that for him and he wants it for himself, so it’s collectively there’s a lot of pressure on CB with this young group.”
For the second straight year, the Tornadoes sent two wrestlers to state — Blust and Joey Simcoe, who both are returning, along with a lot of the roster. Gilbert wants to keep building and hopes to see more and more at the state tournament.
“It’s going to continue to grow from the floor up. One of the things we will definitely do is keep developing that biddy. Joey Simcoe has done a great job of trying to make this pipeline occur. We want to build for the future and it starts there.
“We have some exceptional kids from middle school coming into the program and I told some of the teachers this week that I’m going to write a number on the board and this what you’re going to see at the state tournament next year. I put a six on the board and there may be seven in there. It’s hard not to always have confidence in our kids. I will always think our kids are the best and that won’t change as a coach of these kids. You have to believe in yours. This will be a very dangerous team next year come districts next year.”
Three other Division II wrestlers were in the seventh-place match.
Bellevue’s Nick Smythe topped Mentor Lake Catholic’s Luke McKeon 7-5 at 152 pounds, while 160-pound teammate Justin Mayes edged McConnelsville Morgan’s Wesley Pauley 4-3 to earn seventh place.
The other was Upper Sandusky’s 220-pounder Connor Johnston. Johnston lost to New Lexington’s Luke Shively 14-7.
In the Division III tournament, Tanner May was the lone area wrestler left. He had a chance at third place Saturday.
However, Nelsonville-York’s Tyler Speelman had other ideas as he dropped May 5-1.
But May bounced back with a gutty 3-2 victory over Patrick Henry’s T.J. Rhamy for fifth, which was one spot better than his freshman campaign a year ago in Columbus.
“I wrestled that kid before and I think it was the same exact result,” May said. “He’s a tough kid. My goal was to finish higher than I did a year ago and I did. I’m not satisfied quite yet, but I met my goal.
“This summer I need to stay in the wrestling room. I do some boxing too, but I need to stay in the wrestling room, even if I just drill a day or two is better than nothing because you never want to come in first practice rusty. So I’ll be lifting, boxing and wrestling. Those are my plans.”