Carey’s May a match away

Junior 182-pounder becomes first Blue Devil to make finals since Mengerink in ’96

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Carey’s Tanner May gets Rootstown’s Chris Langguth in a pinning combination in the Division III 182-pound semifinals. May won in overtime.

COLUMBUS — It’s been a long time coming, and the best may still be yet to come.

Carey’s Tanner May snapped his state semifinal jinx Friday in thrilling fashion to reach today’s 182-pound finals at the Division III state tournament at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.

The junior, who lost in the 182-pound semifinals as a freshman and the 170-pound semifinals as a sophomore, beat Rootstown’s Chris Langguth 5-1 in sudden victory overtime to become the first Carey grappler to reach the finals in 23 years.

“This year we had nothing to lose and we’ll be wrestling (Saturday) night for a state title,” Carey coach Ryan Pratt said. “We’re just a little excited.

“Just proud of my guy. He’s put in a lot of work and for him to make to state finals is great and now he’ll wrestle for a state title,” he said. “It’s just a matter of doing it.”

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Columbian’s Caden Blust (right) works against Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer in a second-round Division II 138-pound consolation match Friday in Columbus.

Tanner (47-2) got that chance after a pair of polar opposite wins.

He opened Friday’s action with a 17-4 major decision win against Brookville’s Chase Dyer in the championship quarterfinals before upending Langguth in the semifinals.

The second one took some time.

Knotted at 1 after regulation, May and Langguth squared off in sudden victory overtime.

Langguth took a shot but couldn’t connect. May countered with a throw for two takedown points and two nearfall points to finally get past the state semifinals.

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Columbian’s Brody Conley takes Parma Padua Parma Padua Franciscan’s Sam LoFaso to the mat in a 145-pound second round consolation match in Columbus.

“In (sudden victory) overtime, the first points scored win,” May said. “I didn’t even know about the nearfall. I got the two (takedown points) and that was the end of the match.”

Today’s plan is simple, said May, who ended sixth as a freshman and fifth last year.

“Go out there and give it my all. That’s all I can say,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been working for my whole high school career.”

This year’s final match comes against a familiar face he’s never wrestled. Bluffton senior Deandre Nassar (34-2) is a friend who took fifth last year at 195 pounds.

“He dropped to 182 to compete for a state title and May moved up to 182 to compete for a state title,” Pratt said. “Now it’s going to go down, it’s going to be like (the 1985 wrestling movie) ‘Vision Quest.’

“Now they’re in the state finals together,” he said. “We could have done this in Riverdale.

“It’s the first time since 1996 that we’ve had a finalist, and he made it three times, but it doesn’t matter,” Pratt said. “We’re ready to rock.”

Carey’s three-time finalist referenced by Pratt was Nick Mengerink, who claimed the 130-pound runner-up honors as a sophomore in 1994 before capturing the 145-pound title in 1995 and the 152-pound crown in 1996.

Lakota’s Trevor Franks is the only other area Division III wrestler who also will end the tournament on the podium.

The 160-pound junior will wrestle Lewistown Indian Lake’s Hayden Pummel for seventh today, providing both with a bookend finish to the tournament. The pair met in the opening round Thursday, with Pummel edging Franks 8-6.

Friday, Franks beat Miami Valley Christian Academy’s Seth Henderson 9-7 in sudden victory overtime to guarantee himself a place before falling 10-2 to Massillon Tuslaw’s Kyle Ryder in the consolation quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, four local wrestlers also will start today in the consolation semifinals, guaranteed to finish somewhere between third and sixth in the Division II tournament.

They include Columbian senior 138-pounder Caden Blust and 145-pound freshman Brody Conley, Clyde junior 152-pounder Derick Coleman and Bellevue sophomore 160-pounder Justin Mayes.

Blust will end as a three-time state placer for the Tornadoes (eighth at 126 in 2017, and fifth at 132 in 2018) while Conley, a junior high state champion last year, will earn his first trip to the high school state podium.

“Really, the message for tomorrow is gonna be the same for both,” Columbian coach Travis Salyer said. “It’s gonna apply in different manners. What I mean is, just go out and have fun, and give people a reason to remember your name.

“For example, Brody, a freshman, coming up, come back, take third, (let) everybody know you’re here for the next few years. With Caden, being a senior, returning state placer, losing first round, coming back, taking third as a senior is a statement in itself, of character,” he said. “Say, ‘Even though I couldn’t accomplish my No.1 goal, I was able to battle back and take third.’ Just go out, have fun, demand the best out of yourself.”

Blust’s two wins Friday at first look like commanding victories, with a 10-2 major decision over Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer followed by a 7-2 win against Aurora’s Kyle Peterson.

But both matches were close, with the latter actually going to sudden victory overtime.

He now faces London’s Antwaun Burns, who beat Blust 8-3 in Thursday’s opening round, in today’s consolation semifinals.

“He came out, looked like that Caden I know that’s capable of wrestling,” Salyer said. “He had a couple tight matches, and just found ways to dig deep, and actually, going to the third period, and wrestling a kid he lost to at district finals last week, tight match, and Caden was able to score seven points in the third period to avenge a loss from last week.

“Gets him to the second match, goes to overtime, and is able to take the kid down to his back, and win 7-2 in overtime,” he said. “So just good, gut-check matches the Caden I know is capable of wrestling, and pulled himself a rematch with the kid he lost to yesterday, tomorrow morning, so I know he’s excited about that.”

Conley started Friday’s action with a 7-3 loss to unbeaten Bellefontaine senior Jordan Crace, the top-ranked wrestler in the weight class, to fall into the consolation bracket.

“He wrestled really well, gave 100 percent, probably even more than that. Went at him, followed the gameplan, stayed in his face, was trying to tire him out. I think he did there in the third. We had a little timeout, came back two, and we were down two points at that time,” Salyer said. “We just kind of told Brody, ‘lay it on the line. Whatever you can pull out, go to work. Rely on your assets and your skills to put you in a good position.’

“Tried something, ended up getting reversed, lost 7-3. But wrestled hard the whole time, didn’t give up. True warrior in that match, really, just wrestled super hard,” he said. “It was a tough loss, but he rebounded really well. Two big wins right after that.

“I always tell a few guys, ‘take a few seconds, think about it, and then erase it from your memory. Gotta go get the next-best thing.’ At that point in time, the next-best thing is third place,” Salyer said. “So, we always ask the best out of ourselves. The best thing is third place, so he shook it, got his head back right for the second match, and went out and wrestled really well.”

Conley bounced back by blanking Parma Padua Franciscan’s Sam LoFaso 7-0 before edging Thornville Sheridan’s Jordan Barnett 1-0.

The victory pushed the freshman into today’s consolation semifinals against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Jacob Potok.

Coleman continued Friday where he left off Thursday, slipping past London’s Josh Colvin 4-3 to reach the 152-pound semifinals.

However, the junior then suffered a default loss — he was injured while getting slammed to the mat — to Aurora’s Dylan Fishback and will face Louisville’s Jax Leonard in the consolation semifinals today.

Mayes also reached the championship semifinals before suffering a loss.

He opened Friday with a 3-1 sudden victory overtime win against Aurora’s Will McGhee, but then lost 5-3 to Carrollton’s Ben Pasiuk and will take on Steubenville’s Ethan Pappas in the consolation semifinals.