Christian Price of Granville wins his match in the state wrestling championship consolation quarterfinals.
COLUMBUS – Jake Martinez had redemption on his mind Friday, but he first wanted to talk about his teammates.
Licking Valley’s Martinez, a veteran despite being a sophomore, was one of several Licking County wrestlers to rebound from disappointment in the morning to clinch a spot on the state podium. He will be joined by freshman teammate Gunnar Carpenter.
“That is a huge thing for (Carpenter), placing as a freshman. It is a big confidence builder,” Martinez said.
Carpenter (113 pounds) lost his state debut Thursday, but he bounced back with a quick pin later that night. He came out Friday with the same aggression, taking an 8-1 lead on Elida’s Blaine Hunter.
Hunter had a five-point move to cut his deficit to 8-6, but Carpenter kept his composure. He was able to finish off a 10-6 victory to guarantee at least an eighth-place finish. He and five other Licking County competitors return Friday night and Saturday morning in an attempt to improve their place.
“It feels amazing,” Carpenter said. “I got kind of lazy on the bottom and let him roll me. I looked at the scoreboard, had to keep going and get up to try to win the match.”
Carpenter appeared to have another victory Friday night and be headed for an opportunity to wrestle for third. Instead of a 10-9 victory, however, after much deliberation, Carpenter’s opponent was ruled to have an additional near fall, giving Poland Seminary’s Dante Ginnetti the victory.
Carpenter will wrestle for seventh Saturday morning.
Martinez (138) had state title hopes, and they ended with a 6-3 loss in the quarterfinals. He responded in the consolation round with a 7-5 victory against Clear Fork’s Drew Kinzel.
Like Carpenter, Martinez saw most of a lead evaporate, but he fended off Kinzel’s final push.
“You can’t dwell on what just happened. You have to move on and refocus,” he said. “I thought I felt a throw. I tried it, and it didn’t work out like I thought it was. I had enough of a lead, stayed positive, and was able to pull through.”
A season ago, a knee injury left Martinez less than 100 percent at the state tournament. It was too much to overcome, and he was eliminated with a 1-2 record.
This season, a thumb is bothering Martinez. He will not let that stop him.
“This time, there is no excuse,” he said. “I don’t need my thumb to wrestle. I just need to stay focused on my technique and wrestle hard.”
Martinez will wrestle a familiar foe for seventh place Saturday morning. He will see Johnstown’s Hayden Bullard for the fourth consecutive week, having beaten Bullard three times for tournament titles.
Freshman Addison Fogle (106) nearly gave Valley a third placer, and it was not without a little bit of controversy. Fogle appeared to earn two back points in the third period of a 2-2 match, but he gave up an immediate reversal and was not awarded his points, falling 4-2 to Canfield’s Matthew Cardello.
“(Fogle) is the kind of kid that loses a match and runs for six hours and then is ready for the next match,” Martinez said. “That is just motivation for him. I could see that kid winning two or three state titles in his future.”
In Division I, Watkins Memorial senior Andrew Lieb (132) will be back on the podium for the second consecutive season. Lieb dropped a match in the quarterfinals, but he rebounded with a 10-3 victory against Cincinnati Princeton’s Anthony Alexander.
Lieb placed eighth in 2014, and he will have a chance to do one better when he wrestles Saturday morning. Lieb fell 6-3 to Elyria’s Nico O’Dor in their consolation match Friday night.
Lieb’s two state medals will match his father, Nick, who placed third and fourth for the Warriors.
“This is everybody’s goal: to be here and be on the podium,” Lieb said. “To do it twice is pretty special, so I am pretty happy with myself.”
Sophomore Alex Lieb (113) lost his consolation match, 10-4, to Clayton Northmont’s Chase Craft.
Licking Heights sophomore Josiah Harrell (160) lost his consolation match, 9-5, to Mount Vernon’s Lane Hinkle. Harrell had beaten Hinkle for the sectional and district titles the past two weeks, but Hinkle evened their season record at 2-2.