By Ben Robinson
COLUMBUS — Three Buccaneer wrestlers concluded their journeys at the state wrestling meet in the consolation round Saturday morning by earning state medals, while another Covington wrestlers looks for state gold tonight.
First, sophomore 132 pounder Ryan Ford defeated Major Moore of Willard 9-4 to take third place in his first trip to state.
“I’m happy after not making it here last year,” said Ford. “The ultimate is to be state champion and that’s what I’ll work towards next year.”
Ford advanced to the consolation final with a convincing 8-2 win over Dustin Marteney after dropping a 7-3 decision to Sam Gross of Beachwood in the championship semifinal Friday night.
What makes it a bitter pill to swallow is the fact the wrestler Ford defeated last week in the district final moved on in the other side of the bracket to face Gross in the finals.
“It’s the luck of the draw, I guess,” said Ford, shaking his head. “But I can’t control that, so it doesn’t matter. Getting third helps because the two guys in the finals are senior and I separated myself
from the other placers.”
Which makes Ford already looking ahead to 2015.
“I can’t wait to get back here,” Ford said. “It was an awesome week getting my 100th win at the same time Ganger got his and to place in my first time here only makes me want more.”
Another wrestler wanting more is junior 170 pounder Ben Miller, who dropped his final two bouts of the tournament to finish sixth.
First, Miller dropped a 7-0 decision to Zach Sullivan of National Trail, the same wrestler Ben lost to in the district final in overtime.
He then fell to Girard’s Nick Cardiero 9-2 in the fifth place match.
“It’s a little disappointing that I didn’t get a little higher,” said Miller, who started fast in the tournament with two big wins. “I didn’t wrestle as well today as I want too.”
Still, Miller became a state placer and hopes to return next year for a chance to win it all.
“I hope so,” he said. “I have a lot of things I have to improve on. I have to get better on my feet and learn to wrestle more aggressive. I just have to become a better all-around wrestler.”
Senior A.J. Ouellette earned his second state medal with a fifth place finish at 195 pounds to conclude an amazing career for a wrestler who’s love and passion is on the football field.
Still, Ouellette being the competitor that he is, wanted more and took the events of the tournament hard emotionally.
That’s because he narrowly missed on a takedown attempt in the semifinal on Friday that may have stamped his ticket into the championship match and then he was had to default to Tristan Anderson of Apple Creek Waynedale in the consolation semifinal due to an illegal slam.
“I didn’t mean to slam him,” said Ouellette, fighting back tears. “I normally shoot on the right side, but on my first shot I saw he was taking that away. The next time I shot I thought ‘what the heck’ and shot on the left side. I was surprised at how easy it was, but once I got him into the air I wasn’t sure how to bring him down. I tried bringing him down so I would be on the other side of his body and I could take him to his back, but on the way down my momentum came down
on top of him.”
It was apparent Ouellette was concerned as he stood with his hands on his knees next to Anderson while he laid on the mat in pain.
“I felt bad,” Ouellette continued. “I didn’t want him to be hurt. I feel even more bad because he couldn’t wrestle his next match.”
As if a kid couldn’t overcome any more adversity than Ouellette has overcome in high school career, the senior had little time to put it behind him as he faced Glenn Zaller of Orwell Grand Valley in the fifth place match.
And Ouellette did just that as he controlled the action in a 5-4 win to earn his second state medal.
“I don’t know what to think,” he said, still trying to make sense of what transpired throughout the tournament. “I thought I would be wrestling tonight in the finals.”
But it doesn’t detract from what Ouellette has accomplished as an athlete through his hard work.
“I know he’s hurting right now, but A.J. will look back and be proud of what he accomplished,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee. “He had a heck of a career in football and placed twice at state in wrestling. He’s one of the best athletes ever to come through this school.”
And when some college finally opens the door of opportunity for a much-deserving Ouellette, he’ll kick it in.
DIERINGER AND MANGEN PLACE AT STATE.
Versailles sent two wrestlers to the state tournament over the weekend and both wrestlers came home with placement medals as junior Kyle Dieringer took third at 195 pounds and senior Matt Mangen placed eighth at 126 pounds.
“We’re pretty happy,” said Versailles coach A.J. Bey. “Matt didn’t end it the way he wanted, but he’s got more matches ahead of him in college.”
Mangen, who is undecided as to where he will wrestle in college, concluded his senior season on the podium in a very tough weight class.
“Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw and which side of the bracket you are on, but in Matt’s case his weight class was loaded,” Bey said. “All 16 kids at 126 were pretty good this year.”
After opening the tournament with a victory, Mangen dropped his quarterfinal bout Friday morning and was forced to wrestle through the consolation bracket. He defeated Sean Taylor of Montpelier 9-5 to ensure a spot on the podium and then dropped two close matches to finish eighth.
“Matt had a great career,” said Bey. “He’s leaning toward Finley, but whoever he decides to go and wrestle, he’ll do well.”
It’s always tough to see a senior leave the program, especially a state placer, but Versailles is excited to have a state placer back next year in 195 pounder Kyle Dieringer.
“Having Moose come back next year is really good for our program,” said Bey. “We were young this year and the kids really look up to him. They see the hard work he puts in and how hard he practices every day.”
That hard work paid dividends as Dieringer overcame a defeat in his opening match at state by running the table with five straight victories to take third place.
And his consolation final victory by default came over the same wrestler who defeated him to open the tournament, Tristan Anderson of Apple Creek Waynedale.
“It feels good,” said Dieringer in regards to placing. “Of course I wanted to be in the finals, but I was still able to get on the podium.”
With much of the 195 pound weight class being senior laden, Dieringer has his sights set on capturing a state championship next year.
“That’s the goal,” said Dieringer in regards to winning a state championship. “I have to get better on my shots and getting bigger and stronger in the weight room.”
And with a state medal around his neck, Dieringer’s picture will go up in the wrestling room as inspiration to teammates to hopefully join him at state in 2015.
“His picture and Matt’s picture standing on the podium will go up on the wall and hopefully that inspires other kids,” said Bey.