COLUMBUS — The Wadsworth wrestling team recorded just eight points at the Division I state tournament a year ago.
The Grizzlies surpassed that total Thursday, as two wrestlers advanced in the championship bracket and three others kept their seasons alive after the first round of consolation.
Wadsworth sits in ninth place with 10.5 points.
“It’s just another step forward from where we were last year,” coach John Gramuglia said. “It’s a different story, but these guys have been wrestling like this all year, especially the last month, so it feels great.”
Noah Baughman and Tim Knipl took care of business in their opening-round bouts at 106 and 170 pounds, respectively, while Darrin Gilkerson (126), Robbie Bosley (152) and Shane Mast (160) bounced back to stay alive at Value City Arena.
Brunswick’s Josh Heil (120) and Nicky Kiussis (132) also advanced in D-I action alongside Medina’s Zach Defraine, who split two matches.
Baughman, the projected state champion according to intermatwrestle.com’s Josh Lowe, showed no signs of jitters in his first state appearance. The sophomore made quick work of Clayton Northmont’s Chad Craft en route to a 20-5 technical fall.
“I was in a zone,” Baughman said. “I came out here to do one thing and that was to win and I got it done.
“I just worked my ties, my shots. I knew what I had to do and got in the positions I needed to be in, stayed safe and worked my takedowns to get the victory.”
Knipl used an impressive third period to beat Garrick Ginter of Sidney by major decision, 17-6. Knipl led 4-2 late in the second before using quick takedowns to balloon the lead.
“In third period, a lot of times this year, you see guys start to slow down, and that helped a lot in that match there,” said Knipl, who went 1-1 in first-day action a year ago. “When you feel your opponent getting tired and you know you still have a lot left, that just motivates you even more to keep scoring points.”
Two of Brunswick’s three state qualifiers won their opening matches, with Heil beating Santino Disabato of Westerville 5-0 and Kiussis taking out Watkins Memorial’s Andrew Lieb 8-1.
For Kiussis, a junior high state champ last season, it was all about keeping his head.
“I know that they’re all going to be tough matches and dogfights to the end, so I’m trying to stay as loose as I can,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay solid and stay in control of my body. That’s just it.”
Fellow Blue Devil Christian Camacho (138) was the lone Medina Countian that didn’t advance to today despite giving D.J. Campos of Trenton Edgewood everything his could handle in the first round.
Camacho was pinned with eight seconds left in the match.
Gilkerson ended his day with a convincing 17-4 major decision over Tyler Hogue of Pickerington Central after losing 8-4 to Lake’s Alec Cotton.
In that one, Gilkerson got Cotton on his back at the end of the second period. Gilkerson didn’t forget that no points were awarded.
“It was pretty crappy, but I can’t go back and change it,” he said. “It was funny, one of the guys that was taking pictures got nine different frames with that kid on his back and I didn’t get any points.
“But it was nice to win. I wanted at least to get one.”
Bosley and Mast also bounced back from tough losses.
Bosley wasn’t going to squander what could’ve been his last match, beating Nick Hammond of Canal Winchester 5-3 after dropping a two-point heartbreaker to Lake’s Andrew McNally.
“I realized that every point counts, for sure,” the senior said. “I wasn’t expected my first one to be close, but it was. Ever since I started wrestling, my goal has been to place at state and that’s my goal.”
Mast physically wore down Russell Porter of Willoughby South en route to a 9-4 decision.
“I thought he kind of gave up and was gassed,” said Mast, who lost to Lancaster’s Scott Deluse 5-3 in the first round. “Other than (his takedown early in the first), I thought I was in control of the match. I feel like I work harder than anyone and I’m in good shape.”
Defraine also bounced back from an early loss, beating Archbishop Moeller’s Stuart Morton 8-7 in the consolation round.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.