The state wrestling meet didn’t yield any titles from area athletes, but it seems the opportunities will continue to increase in the years to come.
“I think the area is starting to wrestle well and I think the coaches in the area our doing a great job,” Lancaster coach Jon Spires said. “I’m really rooting for our area to do well.”
Four area schools qualified 14 wrestlers for the meet this year, and 11 will have the chance to repeat that accomplishment in 2014. Lancaster sophomore Scott Deluse and Bloom-Carroll sophomore Chandler Minnard were the area’s only non-seniors to earn All-Ohio honors as both finished seventh. Bulldogs junior Zach Gibson and Golden Gales sophomore Tanner Miller also earned state experience.
Miller, whose two losses at the state meet each came by one point to a senior who finished in the top eight of his 138-pound class, said he plans to build on his first experience.
“Already being here around this environment can help me a lot (next season),” he said. “Instead of being a first-timer, my junior year I will have already had the experience of coming through the tunnel and having everybody out here watching you.”
Spires added first-time qualifiers tend to “put the tournament on a pedestal,” but he was happy with the way his athletes stayed focused.
As Lancaster will boast two returning state qualifiers for the second consecutive season in 2014, Amanda-Clearcreek will lead the way with six individuals with state experience next winter. Freshmen Joey Coe and Jordan Leasure competed at the meet for the Aces at 113 and 182, respectively. Juniors Billy Shannon (120), Nick Hoffman (126) and Caleb Horn (152) also will return in 2014 after competing at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. Although no Amanda-Clearcreek underclassman placed, Horn and Leasure each won a match.
Aces coach Brian Brison said the weekend’s accomplishments shows the entire team what it takes to be successful.
“Everybody is really buying into what we do, and they see all the success and they are on board with it,” he said. “When I’m telling kids what to do in practice, they know that this is what it takes to get to the next level. These guys can use this experience to build off of and I’m sure they will.”
While Minnard and Deluse placed as underclassmen, both emphasized they will expect more in 2014.
“Its going to be the motivation for next year,” said Minnard, a 120-pounder. “The one thing I can take away is that I was this close two years in a row and just lost it.”
Spires said he is excited to have so much returning talent to work with in 2014 after using the meet as a growing experience.
“You look at the whole picture, we have another year for these guys so it’s how can I get better in this next match, even if it’s the last match of the season,” he said. “It’s not always about winning or losing it’s about getting better. Even if you do win, you can’t be satisfied. You’ve got to get better.”