Dain Steffeny might have been the calmest person in the building Thursday.
His fans certainly were not. Steffeny’s first-round match was scoreless into the final minute, but the Granville senior earned a reversal with 40 seconds left to start his state tournament run at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Steffeny held down Tiffin Columbian’s Mason Correll in the second period, meaning he needed simply an escape to take a narrow lead in the third. Steffeny did one better and held on for a 2-1 win.
“I exercise all of the time, so I have my cardio to help through those tough matches,” Steffeny said. “I am usually stronger during the third period.
“I knew he was tough on top, so my game plan was to wait it out until a minute and then try to get a reversal.”
Steffeny and the rest of the Division II winners return today to compete in the quarterfinals at 10:35 a.m.
Steffeny just missed reaching the state tournament his freshman season, and it appeared he had plenty of time for redemption. He, however, had made just one trip since in 2012, missing out in 2013.
“It seemed like forever,” Steffeny said. “I think it was a good thing because it motivated me, and it made me where I am today. It kind of influenced me to work harder each day. Time flies, but everything happens for a reason.”
Licking Valley freshman Jake Martinez had a recurring knee injury that picked a bad time to flare up. He, however, still managed to shut out Norwalk’s Charlie Nash 6-0.
Martinez led 2-0 after one and took a 5-0 lead into the third. Nash was unable to put him on his back.
“My knee gave out somewhere in the third period when I couldn’t stand up,” Martinez said. “It was a big issue for me, but I ended up getting the escape. I was able to hold him off the last 35 seconds or so.”
Martinez possibly has the area’s toughest second-round match, facing Parma Padua’s Tony DeCesare, a sixth-place finisher in Division I in 2013. Martinez took a calm and confident approach all week.
He admitted today was a bit unnerving, however.
“I was really actually pretty nervous going to the back of the bullpen,” Martinez said. “When I started seeing it was just another wrestling tournament, I started settling down a bit.”
Johnstown senior Clayton Bullard (195) was in a back-and-forth match early, but he kept his unbeaten string alive with a second-period pin of Wapakoneta’s Colton Brown. Bullard has declined interview requests this week, preferring to wait to speak to the media until later in the tournament.
Granville’s Christian Price (138) was able to bounce back after a 9-1 first-round loss to Springfield Kenton Ridge’s Preston Bowshier by defeating Lexington’s Jon Watkins, 12-6.
Price’s teammate Will Navin (160) was able to live on after a loss to Mentor Lake Catholic’s Matt Ludwig. He defeated Upper Sandusky’s Alex Kenner, 11-8.
Licking Valley’s Blake Owens (195) suffered a first-round loss by pin to Lexington’s Bailey Faust before he also bounced back with a 2-1 ultimate tie-breaker win against Franklin’s Wyatt Hillard.
Teammate Jaqui Vanmeter (Hwt.) lost a 9-2 decision in his first match to Lexington’s Nate Temple, then fell in his second match 7-1 with an ultimate tiebreaker to Vincent Warren’s Brandon Pahl.
Valley’s Ethan Fout (152) lost both of his matches by pin each time.
Watkins Memorial’s Andrew Lieb (132) lost his Division I first-round match 8-1 to Brunswick’s Nick Kiussis. Lieb bounced back, however, defeating Clayton Northmont’s Nick Broyles 6-2.