Paint Valley’s Caleb Johnson wrestles Delta’s Mark Francis Friday, March 13, 2015, during the Division III State Wrestling Tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
COLUMBUS – On Day 2 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s state wrestling meet at Ohio State University’s Value City Arena, Paint Valley’s Caleb Johnson made school history in the morning, but saw his state title hopes dashed in the evening.
After winning his first preliminary match Thursday by a 13-11 decision over Bethel-Tate’s Jeffrey Botts, Johnson (182 pounds) pinned Delta’s Mark Francis at the 4:28 mark in his second period to get his day started Friday. The final local wrestler still competing in Friday’s evening session, Johnson’s run hit a brick wall in Creston Norwayne’s Kollin Moore, who pinned Johnson at the 1:00 mark in the semifinal match.
It was Moore’s second pin of the day. In the morning session, he had moved his season record to 49-0 with a pin of Covington’s Ben Miller at 2:26 to advance to the semifinals.
Paint Valley coach Dave Salomone said before the match that, regardless of the strategy attempted, Moore would be a tough out.
“(Moore) is a very tough kid,” Salomone said prior to the match. “He’s very solid. Caleb is going to have to be real basic in the match. With a kid like Moore, you’re not going to be able to catch him out of position and put him on his back.”
Earlier in the day, Johnson used his experience against his second-round opponent to develop a strategy to beat him.
“We went out there (Friday) knowing how Francis wrestled because we’ve faced him before,” Salomone said. “He’s a big, strong kid who likes upper body moves, which is in Caleb’s best interest. Caleb hit him with a throw in the first period, putting (Francis) on his back and then Francis was credited with a reversal a bit later on in the first, making it 5-2. After going into the third period with an 8-6 lead, Caleb was able to put (Francis) on his back again and eventually get the pin.”
The second-round victory for Johnson (41-6) guaranteed him a podium finish — becoming the first Paint Valley wrestler to ever place in the state tournament.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Salomone said. “He was a placer in junior high as an eighth-grader and he kind of knew what he had to do to become one again. He knew that he had to win one more match to be a placer in high school as well. Knowing what was at stake, I thought he was pretty confident. He took care of business. He’s proud and he should be.”
Johnson is not done wrestling. He returns to Columbus on Saturday needing a pair of victories to claim a third-place finish. His first hurdle is Milan Edison’s Jack Staggs (26-5), who lost his second-round match in the championship bracket to start the day Friday, but won a pair of matches by major decision and decision later in the day to stay alive in the consolation bracket.
Also competing on Day 2 was Southeastern’s Alex Gordy at 120 pounds.
Gordy advanced to the second session after pinning Jackon Milton’s Terry Stockton in a first-round consolation match Thursday evening.
Friday morning, he was paired up with Dayton Christian’s Michael May, who came into the match 51-4 after falling to Archbold’s Damian Short, 10-8.
Gordy saw his junior season end at the hands of May after losing by a technical fall, 15-0.
Despite the loss, Gordy had a successful season, posting a 43-8 record, winning his 100th career match, and becoming just the second Panther ever to win a match at the state competition.