Dom Johns didn’t expect to make the Division III state wrestling tournament.
But given the opportunity, the sophomore from Coshocton certainly made the most of it.
Johns dropped a pair of hard-fought matches in the consolation bracket but still managed a sixth-place finish Saturday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
He slipped into the fifth-place match after a 3-2 loss to Amanda-Clearcreek’s J.J. Tipton when Tipton escaped in the third period.
Johns pinned Tipton at the Bloom-Carroll Invitational earlier in the season.
“We went for the win, but he controlled the elbows,” Redskins coach Tim Ward said of Tipton’s defense tactics. “(Dom) couldn’t get in on him.”
He then fell behind Columbiana Crestview’s Matt Hardenbrook 13-4 in the fifth-place match before getting within 13-7 in the third. He eventually lost 16-7.
It was all an eye-opening experience for the talented underclassman who only figures to improve with more seasoning and maturity.
He said his goal is to become a state champion.
“Next year, instead of me being intimidated it will be them being intimidated,” Johns said. “I wasn’t even going to wrestle this year because I need to keep my grades up. But I didn’t really want to take the year off from wrestling either.”
Ward said there is no reason Johns can’t improve on this year’s finish. He finished with the most wins of any sophomore in school history after closing with a 44-14 record.
“We just have to work on basic skills to keep him in good position,” Ward said. “He wants to be able to get his hooks in and throw everyone. He’s a funk wrestler and he’s a lot of fun to watch, but he’s got to work on the little things.”
Johns almost broke Jacob Bresciani’s single-season pin record, but fell just short after a 3-3 finish in Columbus.
“We talked all week about him just placing, to just win two and anything else beyond that would be great,” Ward said. “He ends up 3-3 and wrestles all three days.”