HANOVER – Ty Yeager has spent more than half of his life on a wrestling mat, so it is safe to say the Licking Heights senior has experienced every possible situation.
The odds, however, have rarely been longer than they were Monday during Yeager’s 145-pound final. Yeager fell behind 8-6 with eight seconds left in regulation, but he managed to tie the score and then win the Licking County League title in overtime.
“It’s nerve-racking, but you have to keep your composure, keep it all together in your head,” said Yeager, who was joined as a champion by teammate Josiah Harrell. “After 11 years, it becomes kind of second nature.”
Yeager pulled his magic with some help from his opponent, Utica’s Austin Parmer. First, Yeager was able to earn a tie because Parmer was hit with continuous stalling violations.
Then, after Parmer regained the lead, he was called first for an illegal hold and then for escaping the mat while Yeager went for a reversal.
The penalty points were not by accident. Despite the tight score, Yeager’s relentlessness kept Parmer on his heels most of the match.
“Don’t stop moving and just remember that every match from this point on could be my last,” Yeager said. “You have to push the tempo and force the stalling call. Make it more evident to the ref that they are stalling.”
Once the match went to overtime, it appeared Yeager had new life. He wasted no time, jumping on Parmer to quickly earn the winning takedown and near fall for a 12-8 victory.
“I felt like I had the opportunity to keep moving, and as soon as I got him, I knew I could finish it,” Yeager said. “I caught him off guard and got the takedown.”
Yeager is a two-time district placer, but he had his junior season robbed of him by injury. He is making up for lost time.
Harrell is not surprised to see his teammate’s success. Harrell said the Hornets’ senior leader never takes a day off.
“He is always known for pushing himself, even in practice,” Harrell said. “We are always calling him names because he is the one pushing us when we know we should be pushing ourselves. He is always inspiring you to go 100 percent, and when you can’t go 100, go 90. If you can’t go 90, go 80. He is constantly pushing himself to his limits.”
Harrell was dominant in his run to a title after finishing runner-up to Granville’s Dain Steffeny, an eventual state placer, in 2014. Harrell sandwiched four pins around a technical fall.
He recorded near fall after near fall during his finals match against Northridge’s Mason Royer. He finally executed a pin midway through the third period just as he was reaching the 15-point threshold for a technical fall.
“One key of it was to push the pace obviously, but not only that is movement,” Harrell said. “As long as you are moving, they cannot do anything. They shoot, and you are already in a different place. It creates a lot of confusion when you are moving, and they don’t fully understand how to shoot, where to shoot or when to shoot.”
Other Heights placers were L.A. Kelly (3rd, 152); Garrett Sommerkamp (3rd, Hwt.); Dereck Wilson (4th, 170); Luke Yeager (5th, 106); Jalen Reese (5th, 182); Lukas Ingram (6th, 195).
The Hornets compete Saturday in the Division I sectional tournament at Newark.