Newark Catholic teammates Evan Hansel and Caleb Ohl could not have had more different matches.
The result, however, was the same. Each began his quest for a Division III state title with a victory in Thursday’s first round at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Hansel (138) had a high-scoring match, beating Apple Creek Waynedale’s Bradley Wardell 18-7. Hansel took an early lead and kept extending it with his relentless style.
“I like that because you can stay in control, and you don’t have too much to worry about,” Hansel said. “I get kind of tired in the third period, but I was still pushing toward it. I felt really good.”
The NC teammates and the rest of the first-round winners advance to today’s second round. It begins at 10 a.m.
Ohl (126) beat Dayton Christian’s Josh Clary 4-2. Ohl led 2-0 after one period and 4-1 after two. He gave up an escape to Clary to start the third, but he never was in serious danger.
“That is experience for sure and maturity,” Ohl said. “Don’t let anything get in your head. You have to be on him the whole time and just keep trying to score points. You might not be scoring a lot of points but if you are looking to score, you are going to be wrestling offensive the whole time.”
Ohl, in his third trip to the tournament, placed fifth in 2013. The Licking County League, sectional and district champion is hoping to add one more to his final season.
Hansel’s return has been two years in the making. He was left at the district tournament in 2013 and he has been on a season-long mission to get back to the season’s final weekend.
Two of his five losses came the past two weeks in a sectional and district final to Bishop Hartley’s Grant Rathburn. Another meeting could be ahead this weekend.
“(Ohl and I) have been wrestling together for I don’t know how long — 10-plus years,” Hansel said. “We have been working with each other for so long that we wanted to get that one goal. That one goal is right here.”
Northridge’s Jake Adkins (106) also is in his third trip, and he did not spend much time on the mat in his match. Adkins took a quick lead and dominated Girard’s Dakota McCloskey. He led 4-1 before pinning him with 36 seconds left in the first.
“You just want to get on the mat and get off quick,” Adkins said. “It gives you a lot of time to recover and get ready for the next match.”
Rob Mickey (160) earned Northridge’s second win of the afternoon. Mickey pinned Atwater Waterloo’s Josh Horning in the third.
Mickey said he missed an opportunity in the first. He did not let another chance go by. Horning trailed just 2-1 into the third, but he made no move to escape from the bottom.
“The first period, I thought I was going to have him pinned,” Mickey said. “I had that shot and the bar, and I thought I was going to be able to finish it. In the third period, I turned it up. I got on top and knew I needed to finish the match.”
Utica’s Jake Smith (145) was unable to pick up a win in his day at state, losing in the first round to Apple Creek Waynedale’s Reid Stanley by pin in 3:45, then falling in his consolation match to Mechanicsburg’s Joe Ziegler 4-2.
“Walking out there, it was a feeling everybody would like to have, and my nerves took over me,” Smith said. “Going in there to start the second period, it felt like I was running in the mountains.”