Tri-Valley sophomore Kade Kowalski made the most of his opportunity to rebound at the Division II state wrestling tournament.
Kowalski rebounded from his semifinal loss to top-ranked Micah Jordan, of St. Paris Graham, with a pair of wins and a third-place finish Saturday at the Division II state wrestling tournament at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Kowalski, making his second state appearance, overcame a 1-0 deficit after two periods to earn a 4-3 decision against Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit’s Nolan Whitley in the consolation final.
That came after he earned an 8-2 win against Lancaster Fairfield Union’s Stewart Oehlers, a match he trailed 2-0 after being taken down in the first period.
“Last year it was frustrating because I drew the projected state champ and the No. 3 guy in my bracket and didn’t even place,” Kowalski said. “Being able to wrestle both days this time really helped a lot as far as seeing what it takes up here. That experience, nothing compares to it.”
Kowalski joined Jimmy Wright as the only Scotties to place third or better at the state. Wright, a three-sport standout, captured the feat in 1998 at Wright State’s Nutter Center.
Afterward, he already was looking toward his junior year, when he certainly will rank among the state’s best.
He will continue to train in Columbus at Ohio State and wrestle in offseason tournaments.
His also pulled no punches when it comes to his future plan.
“Next year, I definitely won’t be in Micah’s weight class,” Kowalski said. “The level he’s at, to go out and wrestle him again, I don’t think the result would be much different.”
“I’m pretty realistic. Freshman and sophomore year I don’t mind giving it a shot, but but junior and senior year it’s time to win a state title.”
Scotties coach Jared Hindel was happy to see Kowalski rebound.
“Being able to get out there and wrestle (in the finals) and be on top of that podium would have been a great experience, but we know where we stack up in that top three,” Hindel said. “We’re right there in that two spot.”
Jordan, a junior, dominated Springfield Kenton Ridge’s Preston Bowshier 23-10 in the final to win his third state title.