Caleb Ohl and Evan Hansel could have taken a “been there, done that” approach to the regular season.
The two Newark Catholic senior wrestlers have combined for three trips to the state tournament, with Ohl earning a fifth-place medal in 2013. The Green Wave standouts, however, were anything but complacent this season for new coach Mark Gillham.
“They are consistently doing the right things, whether it be at practice or at the meets or even off of the mat,” Gillham said. “It has really helped a new coach like me, making it easier with the senior leadership that they have provided all year. It has been easier teaching the younger guys how to handle themselves, how to do things at tournaments. They are providing that example.”
Only Ohl (126) and Hansel (138) qualified to the Division III district — which will be Friday and Saturday at Heath — but their impact on the entire team was noticeable. Five NC competitors won matches in this past weekend’s grueling 19-team sectional at Cardington, and Nick Jewitt (106) and Cameron DeBevoise (195) — who was limited to 13 matches this season — earned sixth-place finishes.
Ohl took care of business at Cardington. He had two first-period pins and two major decisions. He just missed earning a technical fall in a semifinal, and he beat Pleasant’s Ethan Ice 11-2 in the final to earn his second consecutive sectional title.
Hansel had three pins before running into Bishop Hartley’s Grant Rathburn in the final. Hansel suffered just his fourth loss of the season when Rathburn rallied in the third period for a 16-12 victory.
“I look forward to them possibly meeting again in the finals (at Heath),” Gillham said. “Both of them are considered top guys in that weight class. I think if we wrestled him again, we would definitely get him.”
Young ready for tall task
It is Heath’s turn to host the Division III district. That seemed to be good news for Bulldog junior Isaiah Young.
Young, however, is traveling for the second consecutive year because Heath was five boys above the Ohio High School Athletic Association cutoff for Division II. Young (120), who won the sectional at Licking Valley, will be in a loaded class at Claymont.
“It’s going to be an experience,” Young said. “Now that I know I am in a bracket with the top kids, it makes me feel more confident. It makes me work harder to get to where they are at.”
Young has some district demons to exorcise. Competing at 106 in 2013, he started 2-0 before losing three straight to place sixth.
Young pinned his first three opponents at Valley before beating Big Walnut’s Wes Landrum 11-2 in the final. Young, who appropriately has the build of a Bulldog, was pleased with how he fared against several tall, lanky opponents.
“That gave me a lot of practice on how to wrestle taller kids,” Young said. “I wrestle in close, but with lanky kids you can’t really get in tight on them because their legs are so long and spread out. My coaches always tell me to wrestle my match and not theirs. That is what I do most of the time, but you have to do what you can to get the win.”
Trio of Wildcats still alive
Newark might be the surprise of the area, having qualified three wrestlers from Pickerington Central to the Division I district at Hilliard Darby.
The Wildcats almost matched the 2011 season when they advanced four. Dan Pastorius (182) placed second and advanced as expected, but emerging sophomore Henry Pham (126) and senior Bryce Thomson (160) did as well.
Pham entered the tournament with just a 12-23 record, but he pinned Westerville South’s Tommy Lomano in his consolation semifinal. Thomson entered with an 11-14 record and won three consecutive consolation matches, avenging his first-round loss to Mount Vernon’s Dale Thompson, to qualify.