Thomas Williams took a slightly different route, but he was in a familiar spot Saturday.
The Northridge senior earned his second consecutive fourth-place medal and All-Ohio honor at the Division III state tournament at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. Williams was fourth at 138 pounds in 2012, and he matched it at 145 this season.
Williams beat Northmor’s Jamie Baldridge 4-1 in his consolation semifinal match before losing to Delta’s Tyler Fahrer 3-0 in the third-place match.
“Getting that consolation semifinal match out of the way, it definitely felt good to be back in the running for third place,” said Williams, whose final victory earned him 218 for his career and moved him into third place on all-time state list.
“It was a (3-0) match, so it was close.”
Williams was joined on the podium in Division III by four others. Newark Catholic junior Caleb Ohl (113) was fifth, Johnstown junior Clayton Bullard (195) sixth and Northridge freshman Jake Adkins (106) and Heath senior Gunner Loughman (195) eighth. Lakewood’s John Gershom (145) placed eighth in Division II.
In 2012, Williams reached the semifinals to secure his All-Ohio honor before falling into the consolation bracket. This time, Williams lost his second-round match, but he rebounded to win three consecutive consolation matches.
Against Fahrer, Williams was on the bottom for the second period, and he was unable to earn an escape. Fahrer then started the third on bottom and did earn an escape point.
Williams battled Fahrer to the end, almost earning the winning takedown. Fahrer, however, countered and got his final two points in the final seconds.
“When the first period is 0-0, it definitely is the first sign it is going to be a long one,” Williams said.
Williams is Northridge’s second two-time placer. He again just missed matching Joey Simcoe’s third-place finish in 1999.
Even as Ohl was finishing this season, he already was looking to next.
Ohl finished his state tournament with a 6-4 victory against Bishop Hartley’s Kristopher Hill, but it was the way Ohl won that he wants to change. Ohl got a 6-2 third-period lead, then nursed it the rest of the way.
“I wrestled to win and didn’t wrestle to dominate,” Ohl said. “That is the mentality I have to change. I have to work for the majors, the tech falls, the falls. That is what separates the good guys from the great guys. They are always hammering on you.”
The small bit of adversity Ohl faced during the weekend was a rare occurrence in his junior season. Ohl rarely was challenged, winning titles in the Licking County Invitational, at Coshocton and Lima Central Catholic.
Ohl’s postseason included breezing through the sectional and district tournaments. He lost twice in the prestigious Catholic Invitational Tournament and once in the Mid-State League-Ohio Division tournament to another state placer.
After losing Friday, Ohl was edged 3-2 on Saturday. He rebounded to beat Hill and secure his fifth-place medal. He is the Green Wave’s first state placer since 2004.
“I got to wear the black singlet, so that is always a good thing,” Ohl said. “I wrestled hard. It was a grueling tournament. I felt like I was prepared. I definitely have room for improvement, though.
“I have to work hard during the offseason, and hopefully I will even be wrestling on center mat next year. That would be great. That is definitely the goal. Making the podium gave me the fire to get up those next four placements.”
Bullard moved into position to wrestle for third with a pair of wins Friday, but he suffered through a pair of heartbreakers Saturday. Bullard lost to Carlisle’s Marcus Smith 15-12 and Kirtland’s Evan Brettrager 5-4.
Loughman trailed Delphos Jefferson’s Colin McConnahea 2-0 after two periods, but McConnahea pulled away for a 6-0 victory. Adkins lost to Akron Manchester’s Joey Bowen 13-2. Gershom fell to 10-5 to Clyde’s Beau Minnick.