TC’s Conley fourth, Blust finishes sixth

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Bellevue's Justin Mayes gets St. Paris Graham Local Isaiah Stickley under control in a 160-pound consolation match.

COLUMBUS — One Columbian wrestling career ended and another started with a flurry Saturday at the state wrestling meet at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Four-time state qualifier Caden Blust ended his decorated career placing for the third time — sixth this year — and freshman Brody Conley took home fourth after both fell to the consolation bracket.

In the Division II 145-pound weight class, Conley faced St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Jacob Potok in the consolation semifinals. After a scoreless first period, Conley turned it on scoring five points in the second and then finished Potok with a pin in 4:01 to get a shot at third place.

“Coming in, I knew I had to be focused and especially coming back from the ‘pit,’ which is what we call the consolation bracket,” Conley said. “I refocused. At the beginning of the match I was trying to stay aggressive and break him down a little bit and as the match went on he started to break and that’s when I took the pin.

“It’s the breaking factor. Everybody breaks. There’s a certain time in every match where they break and that’s just what I do. You have to work kids aggressively and go at them for every single second.”

PHOTOS BY PAT GAIETTO Above, Columbian’s Caden Blust tries to break away from London's Antwaun Burns in a 138-pound consolation match.

In the third-place matchup with Aurora’s Andy Garr, Conley got down but never surrendered. He trailed Garr 2-1 after the first period and 5-3 after two. He made things interesting in the third, but eventually fell 7-5 to settle for fourth in his freshman campaign.

“That’s the third time we’ve wrestled that guy this year, so he kind of knew what Brody was going to do and we pretty much knew what he was going to do,” first-year Columbian coach Travis Salyer said. “He got a set of backs there in the second, but Brody didn’t quit. Some kids break going against that. He fought back and got a reversal and kind of took control of the match even when he was behind in the score.

“That’s just the kind of kid he is. He just never quits wrestling no matter what the score is. He always finds a way back in the match. Even though he fell short in the third-place match, he showed a lot of heart.”

Overall, it was a solid starting point for Conley.

“It’s something that’s really cool because I’ve been coming down here since I was 8 years old,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun coming down here and finally being able to compete in it is one of the best things to ever happen. This is a lot of fun being with other dudes too, not just yourself.”

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Brody Conley gets Kacob Potok of Akron St. Vincent St. Mary under control in the 145-pound consolation semifinals Saturday.

Blust didn’t have his best day Saturday with a pair of losses. He fell behind early 4-0 in the first period against London’s Antwaun Burns in the 138-pound consolation semifinals. Burns topped Blust 8-3 in the opening match of the tournament.

Saturday, Burns topped Blust 10-2. He then got Eaton’s Wade Monebrake in the fifth-place match, but was pinned in 2:06.

In his career, the Army commit placed eighth (126 pounds), fifth (132) and sixth (138).

“I’m proud of the kid. Being a senior and a three-time state placer and four-time state qualifier is phenomenal in itself,” Salyer said. “Lost first round Thursday, so his state championship goal was out the window real quick and you see a lot of seniors do that and they get down in the consolation bracket and they just don’t want to wrestle and they go home quick.

“He was able to refocus and recover and had a hard-fought match Thursday night and then won two close matches yesterday to get into the top six. He has a lot of heart. I know today didn’t go how he wanted it to, but he showed a lot of heart out there and gave it 100 percent in both matches. That’s what wrestling is all about. Putting yourself through situations you don’t want to do or you don’t think you can do and giving it 100 percent anyway. I’m really proud of both of the guys.”

Overall, it was another year for Columbian wrestling that ended in Columbus, which is good motivation to keep building for years to come.

“We came down here with four guys and walk away with two state placers. Two seniors and two guys back next year with state experience and I think we’ll just build from this,” Salyer said. “This is our first year together as a coaching staff and as wrestlers I think it will be a good stepping stone into the future. I’m really proud of everyone’s effort this year.”

Bellevue coach Brett Adkins certainly was proud of 160-pounder Justin Mayes’ effort Saturday.

The sophomore had a dominant final day of the tournament with an 18-0 tech fall win over Steubenville’s Ethan Pappas and then a pin of St. Paris Graham Local’s Isaiah Stickley in 3:25 to place third.

“This feels good. I wanted to be in the finals, but I know the (Ben) Pasiuk kid is tough,” Mayes said of his opponent Friday night who beat him 5-3. “It would have been nice for me and Ethan (Hernandez, from Norwalk) to go at it one more time I guess, but it’s whatever. I still got two more years to get the goal I want, which is to be a state champ. After yesterday after I lost I just told myself, ‘You aren’t losing anymore.’ I just had that fire in me that I didn’t want to lose.”

“He had a pretty dominating day. In his first match, the kid right off the bat had a nice deep double, but (Mayes) fought it off and took him right to his back. He controlled the match from then on,” Adkins said. “This last match, he was never really in any danger either. He’s just a solid wrestler. You’ve got to do a lot to get him out of position. He found a weakness with that single leg … and he just had a heck of a day.”

The other state placer in Division II was Clyde’s Derick Coleman at 152 pounds. Unfortunately, he was hurt in his loss Friday night and couldn’t wrestle Saturday, which resulted in a sixth-place finish.

The same was true for Lakota’s Trevor Franks in Division III. Franks was set to wrestle for seventh at 160 pounds, but lost due to injury, so he placed eighth.