Not just because of the torrential downpour surrounding Value City Arena on Friday during the high school state wrestling tournament, but because the county failed to place a wrestler in a state final for the first time in more than a decade.
The area’s best chance — its only chance — was St. Edward senior Jacob Davis, who lives in North Ridgeville.
Davis was the only one of five area quarterfinalists — including Black River’s Sebastian Vidika, Keystone’s William Spangler, Columbia’s Brandon Heidinger and Avon’s Zane Zeman — to advance to the semifinals, but he lost an 8-6 decision in overtime to Stow’s Connor McMahon at 160 pounds.
Spangler (126) and Davis were projected to win state titles, while Zeman (145) was ranked No. 2.
“I’m really upset because I gave up a few sloppy takedowns that I shouldn’t have in that match,” Spangler said. “I was pretty unhappy about it. It was my senior year and I lost in the quarterfinals. Now the best I can do is third, and I came down here to win a state title.”
The pain on Spangler’s face as he talked about coming up short was duplicated all day by area wrestlers. Davis never showed up for his media interview, and Heidinger needed about 10 minutes to regain his composure after losing his 182-pound consolation quarterfinal in Division III.
It was a roller-coaster day emotionally for Heidinger. He was disappointed in his 13-4 major decision loss to Troy Christian’s B.J. Toal in the quarterfinals, then was thrilled when he downed Smithville’s Mark Hilty with a 5-0 decision to guarantee a spot on the podium, only to be let down again with a 17-5 major decision loss to Lewisburg Tri-County North’s Jacob Schlater.
“It’s kind of tough because your expectations are heightened down here,” Heidinger said. “You’re picturing yourself doing one thing and it’s really disappointing when that thing doesn’t happen. But you have to have a short memory and keep your head straight.”
The eight area wrestlers left in the tournament will finish their seasons this morning — with five in the consolation quarterfinals and three wrestling for seventh and eighth.
Those still shooting for third place include Davis, Zeigler, Zeman, Spangler and Black River junior Mike Hozan. Those shooting for seventh are Heidinger, Amherst’s Mark Matos and Keystone’s Brian Spangler. Heidinger and Matos earned their first state placement Friday.
“I’m excited about placing, but I know I still have a lot of work to do,” Matos said after he won a 3-2 decision over Kettering Fairmont’s Josh Parrett in the consolation second round to guarantee a podium finish. “He was strong and tough. He was able to reverse me in the third (period) and then I was able to reverse him back.”
Matos said he drew inspiration from good friend Mark Matos, the Elyria senior who was knocked out of the tournament Thursday night after suffering a concussion in his opener.
“He said he was going to watch my match,” Matos said. “I’m glad he’s here cheering me on and I wish we could both still be wrestling. That was a tough way to end your season.”