By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Lakeside wrestler Kyle Conel knew he had to time it just right. He also knew he wouldn’t fail.
Conel muscled up and threw his opponent, taking him to his back, scoring a takedown and the 6-4 victory over Adam Kluk of Medina Highland a the Division I 195-pound class at the Ohio State Wrestling Championships at Ohio State’s Value City Arena on Friday.
“I didn’t want to take the match to overtime,” Conel said. “I wanted to get off the mat. I timed it up and took him down.
“I knew I’d hit it, it didn’t matter (that I waited until the end).”
Conel (50-0) will face JoJo Tayse of Massillon Perry for the state championship. The pair had tangled just a week ago in the district championship match. Tayse (46-7) defaulted just a minute into the bout.
“Kyle Conel is a combination of strength, skill and determination,” Brady said. “That’s why he kicked (Tayse’s) butt to the mat three times and the kid defaulted (in the district final). (Tayse) was the champion last year at 195, but he took a butt whoopin’ in the district finals.
“(Tonight), I think (Kyle) will put it to him.”
The parade of champions will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the title matches in Divisions I, II and III starting at 5:45.
Brady isn’t exactly sure what happened after Conel received the two points that won him the match.
“He threw (Kluk) to his back with 13 seconds left. Kyle didn’t want to go to overtime,” Brady said. “He just wanted (to win) more than the other kid did. All I can tell you is (Kluk) finished the match on his back. That’s all I saw and that’s all that’s important.
“He came out on top and I’m proud of him.”
An unbeaten season and a state championship are just one victory away for the Lakeside junior. But don’t think the pressure will be too much on him. It would also be the first time a wrestler from an Ashtabula Area City Schools team claimed a title.
“I’ve been around the program as much as anyone and I don’t believe there’s ever been a state champ from either Ashtabula or Harbor. I don’t have to tell you that this is a big deal for us.”
“We pressure them in everything,” Brady said. “All year long, we’ve been pressuring the kids to show them they can handle it. I’m proud to say the kids have given all they have.
“Once they put their feet on the line, all the pressure is gone.”
Conel isn’t the only area grappler seeking his school’s first championship. Madison’s Nick Montgomery has reached the championship match at 138 pounds in Division I and Perry heavyweight Billy Miller has reached the plateau in Division II.
Lakeside heavyweight Chuck Morgan fell in two of his three matches.
“He’s wrestled his heart out,” Brady said. “He’s got a busted hand and he’s put his foot on the line and given everything he’s got.
“Chuck’s wrestled his heart out. He’s given it everything he’s had. He’s just come up short a couple times.”
Morgan, though has earned as a spot as an All-Ohioan, as he has secured a spot in the top eight. He will battle Cale Bonner of Perrysburg in the match to determine seventh and eighth place.
Conneaut’s Billy Post will also wrestle for seventh place at 200 pounds in Division II.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Bidwell said. “Not many work as hard as Billy does. To see him get this far and get to the podium, I can’t express how proud I am.”
Despite losing a couple of matches, Post was not completely disheartened.
“I think he handled it well,” Bidwell said. “It took all of 30 seconds for him to look at me and say, ‘Seventh place. We got it.’ I was like, ‘All right, buddy!’ ”
It wasn’t difficult for Post to overcome his setbacks.
“You’ve got to be able to look at the match and be able to know you left it all out there,” Post said. “In the end, the better man won.
“It’s a great feeling to know I’m in the top eight. Words just can’t describe how it feels to know all the hard work over the last four years has paid off.”
Post has received the attention of Brady.
“Billy Post is a good kid,” Brady said. “He’s going for seventh and eighth (today), too. All of us from Ashtabula County are a bit of a family. We have to be down here.”
The Blue Streaks’ Jarrad Lasko can finish no worse than sixth at 126 in Division I. Collin Dees (113), Aaran Gessic (132), Alec Schenk (160) and Evan Nichols (195) can also do no worse than sixth place in Division II for Perry.
Riverside’s Nick Boggs (132) and Evan Rosborough (220) are poised to place no worse than sixth in DIvision I.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.