WILMINGTON — KeAnthony Bales and Zac Schmidt added their names to the list of state qualifiers for Eaton’s wrestling program.
The seniors punched their tickets to Columbus last weekend by placing in the top four in the Division II district tournament at Wilmington High School on Friday and Saturday, March 6-7.
Overall, Eaton had seven wrestlers compete for a chance to advance to the state tournament.
“District is always the hardest, most emotional tournament of the season. There are always some guys whose season will end at district. Luckily we had two guys make the top four and qualify for state,” Eaton coach Nathan Islamovsky said. “As a team the guys showed up and wrestled well. Multiple wrestlers came through and won matches. Logan Chapin and Owen Hewitt wrestled very well but came up short this weekend.”
Bales (30-14), who finished fourth at 152, got a measure of revenge on his way to qualifying for state for the first time.
“KeAnthony wrestled as well as he ever has. He won his first two matches making it to the semifinals where he ran into one of the best kids in the state and he was able to keep the match closer than most people thought,” Islamovsky said. “He then dropped to the consolation semi-finals and in his go-to state match he wrestled against a kid from Monroe that at the SWBL beat him in the finals 12-2. We were losing 4-0 when Ke chose top in the third period and found a way to win. He got the pin and was able to pull the upset. It really was a great moment and talking to him afterwards it seems like he has bought into everything we try to do as a program. We talk a lot about wrestling our best at the end of the season, and never giving up and he exemplified both of those.”
Islamovsky said Schmidt (160) has been a wrestler many have overlooked this season.
“Zac Schmidt was a man on a mission. He was very discouraged early in the season by online rankings and predictions leaving him out of the conversation,” Islamovsky said. “At one point, reading things online that said Zac had no chance of making it to state at 160, he discussed changing weight classes to give himself a better chance at making it. After talking to him he decided he would rather put in the work, do the right things, and prove people wrong. He was able to do that this weekend.”
Schmidt (36-8) ended up in a tough quarterfinal match where he lost in sudden victory overtime. It was his first loss in over 15 matches, according to Islamovsky.
He had to wrestle back in the consolation winning two matches just to get to the consolation semifinals where he had a really tight match.
He then had to finish the tournament against Camden McDanel from Graham, whom he has wrestled three times now.
The bout was tied with five seconds left in the match when Schmidt got the deciding take down to win.
“These two have worked extremely hard this year and it is really paying off. Both had tough moments at this tournament and they didn’t give up,” Islamovsky said. “I think they are in a position to make a run at getting on the podium this weekend.”
Freshman Lucas Abner lost both of his matches to end the season 6-27 at 106 pounds.
At 138, junior Owen Hewitt went 1-2 to conclude his season at 27-12.
At 170, Logan Chapin battled his way to a top eight finish after dropping his first match of the tournament. He finished the season at 23-18.
At 182, Sage Bowman went 1-2 to end the season 16-14.
Holden Sittloh dropped both of his matches at 195 and ends the year with a 10-11 record.
The OHSAA state tournament will be held Friday through Sunday, March 13-15 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Division II is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. Division III will begin at 3 p.m.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH