COLUMBUS — Ben Sullivan didn’t get the result he wanted in his final high school wrestling match.
Sullivan, looking to repeat as the Division III 220-pound state champion, came up short against Dylan Thorp of Oak Harbor, falling 7-3 to finish as state runner-up for the second time in his career.
“That was a tough one to go so long and do so well for most of the season and to kind of run into a match like that is tough,” National Trail coach Mike Eyler said. “He’s disappointed. I’m disappointed for him. I think it’s still a culmination of a great career.”
The state tournament was held Thursday-Saturday, March 9-11 at the Jerome Schottenstien Center.
Despite the loss at the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Individual State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, March 11, Sullivan will leave National Trail as the most decorated wrestler in school history and arguably the best ever in Preble County.
“I know that. I think a lot of others know that,” Eyler said. “I think even deep down he understands that. But second, third fourth, fifth those aren’t part of Ben’s vocabulary. For him, it will weigh on him a little bit.”
Sullivan, who finished his career with a 136-14 record, is the county’s only four-time state placer in wrestling.
He finished second as a freshman, third as a sophomore and was the state champion as a junior, going 19-1.
“I think that’s what makes Ben so special though — because that’s not good enough (for him),” Eyler said.
In the championship bout, Sullivan, who lost to Thorp earlier in the season at the Iron Man tournament, fell behind 2-0 a minute into the first period. An escape a few second later made it 2-1.
Starting the second period in the bottom position, Sullivan scored on an escape to tie the match at 2-2. The score remained that way until Thorp scored a take down with one second left for a 4-2 lead.
In the third, Thorp, who started in the bottom position, scored on an escape 15 seconds into the period for a 5-2 lead and recorded another take down with just under a minute left in the match for a 7-2 lead. Sullivan was able to escape with 27 seconds left for his final point, but was unable to complete the comeback.
“He’s a strong, good wrestler,” Eyler said of Thorp. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Sullivan, who finished this season with a 36-4 record, began the state tournament with a pin of Donovan McCollister of Nelsonville-York in 1 minute, 13 seconds.
In his second round match, Sullivan scored a major decision (10-1) over Ryan Boyle of Rootstown.
In his semifinal bout, Sullivan earned a hard-fought 4-3 decision over Caide Bunfill of Barnesville.
“I’ve been coaching Ben for four years. I’ve know him since he was in elementary school. I couldn’t be prouder of him. I really couldn’t,” Eyler said. “Overall, it was just a great career.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH