COLUMBUS — With two days of wrestling completed, three of the four Wapakoneta Redskin wrestlers making the trip to Columbus are preparing for a Saturday morning session at the state tournament.
Wapakoneta sent four wrestlers to the 2013 OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament in Columbus, and three of them are still alive in the consolation bracket.
Holden Hengstler, Nate Valentine and John “JT” Martin will be competing for third place in the consolation semi-finals.
After all three boasted a 2-1 record on Friday, the worst they can place is sixth.
The last Redskin wrestler, Alec “AJ” Brown, had a disappointing day and will not be placing after losing two matches Friday.
Martin in the 106-pound class started off the day with a loss at the hands of Tyler Warner of Claymont, 3-2.
Martin then moved to the consolation bracket after the loss. A win in this round guarantees finishing in the top 8 finish at least, and a third place finish at best.
Martin squared off against Levi Congleton of Vincent Warren and won easily by major decision, 14-5.
Martin, after guaranteeing a state place, moved on to the evening session having accomplishing something he hasn’t achieved in his career. While Martin has been to state three times before, this is his first time placing.
“It’s his fourth time qualifying,” Wapakoneta varsity coach Jason Rostorfer said. “We’ve never had a wrestler qualify for the state tournament four times — and he doesn’t want to be the guy to get here four times and not place, so he’s got that weight off his shoulder.”
Martin squared off against Alex Mackall of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, and wowed the crowd with a come-from-behind victory, 6-4.
“I put it in my mind that eighth place isn’t good enough. I want to get third, you gotta keep winning to get third,” Martin said. “It was a really hard fought match, I got down early, I battled back with a couple good takedowns and found a way to win.”
“He’s guaranteed top six, but the first thing I told him was that sixth isn’t good enough, we’re going for third,” Rostorfer said.
Martin now prepares for Eli Stickley of St. Paris Graham Local. Martin and Stickley have faced off before in the state team duals tournament. Martin won that match, 7-6, with a last-second takedown.
“I’m really confident with my takedown abilities,” Martin said. “I feel like I can take down anybody in the state.”
According to Intermat.com , Stickley is the No. 8-ranked wrestler in the nation at the 106-pound class.
“He knows he is going to place top 6,” Rostorfer said. “When he moves and when he’s on, there aren’t many kids that are going to hang with his. He’s fast, he’s strong and he really doesn’t stop. If he doesn’t let guys tie him up, that’s a huge advantage in his favor.”
In the 145-pound class, Nate Valentine also started Friday off with a disappointing loss at the hands of Gabe Stark. Valentine was pinned in the second period.
Valentine then cleared his head and prepared for the consolation round. Valentine bounced back and beat Kyle Long of Norwalk by major decision, 10-2.
“He was nervous the first match, and he wasn’t happy with that performance,” Rostorfer said. “That’s the nice thing with these seniors, is that they kind of coach themselves. They know what winning looks like and should look like, and then they can gauge their performance based on that.”
With a state place guaranteed, Valentine prepared for the evening session, where he would match up against John Gershom of Hebron Lakewood. Valentine took care of business against Gershom and defeated him, 9-3.
“I felt pretty confident after I got my first front headlock going and got my two points,” Valentine said. “The only thing that I was really worrying about was his two on one, I just had to make sure I had good head position on it.”
Rostorfer said that was Valentine’s best match of the season.
“He wasn’t happy with his first match, so then he came back in the second match and won,” Rostorfer said. “That second round gave him confidence. That match was to guarantee that you’re going to place. Once you know you’re going to place, it takes all the pressure off.
“He’s riding on a roller coaster right now, and fortunately, it’s going in the right direction,” he said.
Valentine now prepares for Joseph Jones of Hamilton Ross. They will wrestle today in the morning session.
In the 182-pound class, Holden Hengstler also started off the day with a disappointing loss to move to the consolation bracket.
He fell to Jack Harris of Urbana, 5-1.
He then bounced back in the second match of the day and defeated Jhulyis Monroe of Columbus Marion-Franklin. He pinned Monroe in the second period and erupted in excitement. This pin meant Hengstler would also place.
“Started off with a bad match, didn’t wrestle to my full potential,” Hengstler said. “I cleared my head after that, got things straight. Came out after that, and wrestled a good match.”
Hengstler then took on Anthony Grayson of Trotwood Madison, and defeated him, 3-2.
“My third match was alright, and I could have wrestled better — was pretty happy with the day except that first match,” Hengstler said.
In the third match, the referee gave Hengstler a takedown, and then after talking to the other referee, took away the points.
“Well, when he gave me that first takedown, and then took it away after talking to the other referee, that got me pretty pissed off,” Hengstler said. “So I knew I had to come back out and get another one. There wasn’t anyway I was going to let him win that match, I had to win.”
Rostorfer said he was disappointed when the referee reversed his decision.
“At this level it’s so hard to get points and they are at a premium,” Rostorfer said.. “When they take points away, it’s hard to take, because points are hard to come by.
“He came back, got an escape, got the first point, got a takedown and let the kid up, and we wrestled on our feet where we’re the strongest,” he said.
The final wrestler, Alec Brown in the 195-pound class, fell in his first match to Sam Harris of Urbana, 5-4.
He then moved on to Nick Havener of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. With the score tied at 1-1 on two escapes,
Brown was warned for stalling. A little while later, with the score still tied at 1, Brown was nailed with a 1-point stalling penalty. Brown ended up losing, 2-1.
“I didn’t even see the stalling call, I was over finishing up coaching Holden’s match,” Rostorfer said. “We had three guys wrestling at the same time. I got over there and he had already been hit for stalling. I didn’t really get to see a whole lot of it. It’s unfortunate it happens that way, but it happens to a lot of people.”
While Brown did not place at the State Tournament, Rostorfer said he should still be proud of everything he accomplished.
“Losing Alec is hard because he is a senior, his career is over now,” Rostorfer said. “I just sat with him for a little while, told him that it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a chapter in his life that’s over, and he’s going to start a new chapter in college.
“He understands that he went to State and that’s an accomplishment, and he’s going to hang his hat on that,” he said.
The three wrestlers remaining will start consolation semi-finals in Columbus at 10 a.m. today.