By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
There’s little substitute for experience.
Every one of the area competitors who were at the Ohio State Wrestling Championships a year ago won his opening match Thursday at Value City Arena. Good fortune wasn’t, however, exclusive to those seven young men.
After two rounds of wrestling, 13 of the area’s 15 wrestlers are still alive and stand just one victory from earning All-Ohio honors.
The last area competitor to take the mat in the first round of competition, Lakeside’s Chuck Morgan overcame a broken hand to score a 5-3 win over Toledo St. Francis de Sales’ Sam Burns in the Division I heavyweight bracket.
“I got the takedown in the first period and got some back points,” Morgan said. “Then I tried to hold on and chill because I knew he couldn’t take me down.”
Morgan understands that the win was just the first over several he needs to reach his goal.
“It feels good, but it’s just one step,” he said. “But it’s just one step. I’ve got two more to get to the finals.”
Morgan’s teammate, Kyle Conel, also scored a two-point win, a 9-7 decision over Moose Al-Najjar of North Olmsted at 195 pounds.
“I’ll take it one match at a time,” Conel said. “It feels good to get my hand raised, now I’ve got to think about the next one.”
The Perry grapplers used a bit of inspiration from coach Dave Rowan, who’s been out of action since January. The Pirates combined to win all five of their matches in the Division II tourney.
“They were dialed in,” Pirates assistant coach Chris Bezzeg, filling in for Rowan, said. “They were pretty focused. They did the things they needed to do to be successful. They did the things they’ve done all year long. They executed very well. Four of them have been here before. They know what it’s going to be like.
“Dave talked to them before they warmed up. It’s great to have him down here. It’s nice for Dave. The kids are really excited and he’s really excited to be here.”
Collin Dees scored a 5-1 victory at 113, Aaran Gessic netted a 16-0 technical fall at 132 and Alec Schenk, Evan Nichols and Billy Miller pinned their opponents at 160, 195 and heavyweight, respectively.
The Pirates are in third place as a team.
Also in Division II, Bill Post succumbed, 13-6, in his opening match, but rebounded to pin his second opponent in the first round of consolation wrestling.
“I’m not going to lie, that first match, the first period, I was overwhelmed,” Post said. “There’s never been that many people in the stands at any of our matches. I took it all in the first period. At the start of the second, all of the butterflies were gone and it was time to get to business.
“It felt great to know I pinned a kid who made states. I was overwhelmed with happiness. But that happiness has to die out because I have five more matches (to get to the third-place match).”
Riverside’s Evan Rosborough won his opener 2-0 in overtime at 220 pounds in Division I and Nick Boggs was victorious at 132.
Madison’s Jarrad Lasko (126) and Nick Montgomery (138) each won their first matches in Division I and Glenn Zaller was victorious at 182 pounds in Division III.
Kirtland’s Evan Francis — a Jefferson resident — dropped his opener but battled back to pin his opponent in the consolation bracket at 126 pounds in Division III.
Eliminated after two rounds of wrestling were Sean Szitas of Grand Valley and Jake Denman of Riverside.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.