BOWLING GREEN — The goal of four Redskin seniors when the high school wrestling season started was for all of them to qualify for the coveted state wrestling tournament.
The tournament referred to as “State” by most wrestlers is a goal of many but only realized by the top 16 wrestlers in each weight class in the entire state of Ohio.
On Saturday, John “JT” Martin, Nate Valentine, Holden Hengstler and Alec “AJ” Brown reached their goals and qualified for State.
It was very important for these four to end their careers together at state.
These seniors have enjoyed a career that is rarely seen in this great sport.
The four of them have a combined 464 wins and a winning percentage of .725.
They have won 4 WBL titles and have never lost a WBL team dual meet.
On Friday the ’Skins took seven wrestlers to the district tournament at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University.
The BG district in division II has been called the toughest district in the state with 47 schools represented.
In the 106-pound weight class Martin started off against Charlie Nash from Norwalk and gave Nash a clinic on single leg and double leg take downs.
Martin finished the match with a tech fall 25-10 win.
Valentine continued in the first round against Bryon Logan from Sandusky Perkins who had a 32-12 record. Valentine was in control the entire match and won in impressive fashion 6-3. Next up was Holden Hengstler in the 182 weight class against Cody Wright from Bay. Hengstler over whelmed Wright with his double leg takedowns and pinned Wright 3:17 into the match. To finish out round one for the redskins was AJ Brown in the 195lb weight class.
Brown’s opponent was Ian Czanik from Dayton Carroll and was never really in the match from the beginning. Brown pinned Czanik 1:11 into the first period.
The four seniors moved into the championship Quarter final round very motivated and hungry at this point.
A win in this round would put them into the semi final round.
Martin continued on against Kyle Bussard from Valley View sporting a 24-8 record.
Martin once again dominated with single leg and double leg takedowns to win 28-12 and move into the semi-final round. In the 145-pound class Valentine matched up against Colin Wilson with a 32-11 record from Monroe. Nate also dominated this match and moved into the semi finals with a 10-3 win. At 182-pounds Hengstler had Dylan Hermes from Sandusky Perkins standing in his way to the semi finals. Hermes brought in 35-8 record and a BG North sectional championship on his resume. Hengstler once again used single and double takedowns to win the match 7-6 and move into the semi final round.
That left Brown as the only senior needing to advance to the semi-final round. Brown put his 32-4 record on the line against John Workman from Sandusky Perkins. Workman brought a 35-10 record and second place BG North sectional finish to challenge Brown.
Brown used a combination of front headlocks and snap downs to take control of the match before pinning Workman 5:15 into the match.
This moved Brown into the semi-final rounds with his 3 other senior wrestlers.
The semi final round is the round where you can secure your spot in the state tournament with a win. Each boy knows that a win puts them in and a loss puts them in the consolation round and will have to battle back to reach their goal of state.
In the 106-pound semi finals Martin had Seth Beard from Napoleon who finished 2nd in the BG South Sectional and brought a 39-4 record to challenge Martin.
Martin gave Beard everything he could handle but came up just short 3-2.
Nate Valentine was next up to try and be the first Redskin wrestler of the day to punch their ticket to state. Standing in Nate’s way was Beau Minnick from Clyde sporting a 40-6 record.
This was a repeat of last week’s BG south sectional semi final when Valentine won 3-2. Valentine kept it close but fell this time by a score of 3-2.
This left Hengstler and Brown as the two remaining Redskins to get to state with a semi-final win.
Hengstler had Alex Nori from Padua standing in his way to the state tournament. Holden didn’t let the Redskin faithful down as he became the first Redskin to qualify with a pin 3:32 into the match. The win also put Hengstler into the district finals.
In the 195-pound weight class Brown was not going to let Holden have all the fun.
Brown had Tristan Mallory from Port Clinton with a 32-11 record standing between him and a dream he has had since a young boy.
Brown went right to work and pinned Mallory 2:25 into the match to punch his ticket to the state tournament.
This left Martin and Valentine in the round where if you win you go to state and if you lose you go home.
Martin had Paul Petras from Padua standing in between him and becoming a four time state qualifier. Martin used a series of single leg and double leg takedowns to win 7-1 and move onto the state tournament.
Valentine was up next and was facing Logan from Perkins who he faced earlier.
Valentine dominated from the beginning and won his trip to state with a 7-2 win.
Now with the 4 qualified for the state tournament all that was left were the district finals.
Martin was up first in the 106-pound class where he faced Alize Merrell from Madison.
Martin used his combination of speed and double leg take downs to defeat Merrell 10-4 and take 3rd place.
Valentine in the 145-pound class was up against Kyle Lang from Norwalk. Nate finished the tournament with a strong 11-4 win to also finish in third place.
Hengstler was now up wrestling for first place against Jacob Kasper from Lexington.
Kasper brought in a 47-1 record and is the favorite to win this year’s state title.
Hengstler was not intimidated at all but fell 6-2 to finish the tournament in 2nd place.
The last redskin senior up was Brown. Brown came into the finals with a 34-4 record.
His opponent was Josh Lehner from Lexington with a 47-0 record and last year’s State Champion in the 195 lb weight class.
Brown got off to an early 1-0 lead.
In the 2nd period Lehner started in the down position and tied the score at 1-1 with an escape. Lehner went on to win the very close match 3-2.
Brown finished with a 2nd place finish.
“I now know what I have to work on to get ready for next week’s tournament,” Brown said.
This is the second largest group of wrestlers the school has sent to state.
The OHSAA State Tournament will be held at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Division II wrestling will start at 4:20.