One day of frustration turned into one year of determination.
Watkins Memorial junior Andrew Lieb received his reward Saturday. Lieb left the second day of the Division I district meet happy for the first time, placing fourth at 132 pounds in earning his first state berth.
Lieb beat Pickerington Central’s Joseph Terry 8-6 in a consolation semifinal at Hilliard Darby to qualify. Lieb lost 7-1 in that same round in 2013.
“I was definitely overlooked because I was ranked like seventh to get out,” said Lieb, who was 2-2 in the district as a freshman.
“Coming up to get (fourth) shows everybody what I can really do, which means a lot. Last year was devastating, being so close.”
Lieb had to do it the hard way this year. He won his first-round match Friday, but he dropped into the consolation bracket after a second-round loss to Hilliard Davidson’s Bobby Smith, the eventual champion.
Lieb did it by smothering his opponents in his trademark way. He won his first consolation matches by scores of 6-1 and 13-1 before taking a 4-3 lead against Terry with a takedown in the second period.
“I felt the leg hook, and I knew I could get that turn,” Lieb said. “That is really what swayed the match.”
Lieb followed another takedown in the third with a near fall. He allowed three late points in preserving the lead, but he had punched his ticket.
“He’s tough on top, that’s for sure,” Watkins coach Mark Kurth said. “If he rides somebody for two minutes, they are going to be tired and know that they were in a battle because he is going to beat on them a little bit.”
After shaking hands with the Tigers’ coach, Lieb jumped into the arms of dad Nick, a two-time state placer at Watkins, then ran across the mat and high-fived teammate Dylan Scott.
It was a disappointing weekend for Newark senior Dan Pastorius (182). He finished 1-2 in his third and final district.
Because Pastorius lost his first-round match, he faced the prospect of needing to win four consecutive matches to advance. He pinned Pickerington North’s Ryan Ward, but he fell to Hilliard Darby’s Trevor Parker 14-3.
“He needed to win that first-round match,” Newark coach Jose Martinez said. “He hasn’t won a first-round match here in three years, and that one was an important one. (Parker) wrestled more aggressively. Dan fought hard but fell short.”
Pastorius finished his career one win shy of 100, but he did set the Wildcats’ single-season record for pins. He was 0-2 at the district as a sophomore and 1-2 in 2013.
“He has accomplished a lot for the program,” Martinez said. “He stayed with our program, which is important because he was a junior high state qualifier for us. If anything, it is an example that if you stick with our program, not that this is where we wanted to end up, but he is a three-time district qualifier.”
Henry Pham (126) and Bryce Thomson (160) each were 0-2 for Newark.
Watkins’ Alex Lieb (106) was not far from joining his brother. He led 4-0 into the third period of his consolation quarterfinal with Mount Vernon’s Ben Tate before Tate rallied to pin Alex Lieb. Tate later placed third to qualify.
Dylan Scott also was eliminated in a consolation quarterfinal, falling by pin to Central Crossing’s Ethan Leapley. Scott and Alex Lieb each were 2-2 on the weekend. Dean Marek (120) was 1-2.
Licking Heights freshman Josiah Harrell (152) was 2-2. He had a 10-0 win and a pin before falling 4-2 to Marysville’s Alex Sepeda, the eventual third-place finisher.
The Hornets’ L.A. Kelly (138) was 1-2, and Anthony Haist (106), Brandon Haist (120) and Mike Hopewell (195) each were 0-2.