COLUMBUS — First-time state qualifiers can get the fish-eye look the second they step on the mat at the state tournament.
How those wrestlers respond can be the difference between finding a place on the podium and going home on the first day.
Elyria Catholic found itself in that position Thursday when Stan Bleich (113 pounds) and Jerot Schill (160) made their first appearances at Value City Arena in the Division III tournament. While neither won his first match, both are still alive because of some incredible bounce-back ability.
Bleich didn’t have the luck of the draw, as the district champion drew returning state runner-up Evan Ulinski of Woodmore in his first match. It came with wide eyes and some nerves. It also came with a 12-6 loss, though Bleich turned it on by scoring three takedowns in the third period.
“You can’t rely on the brackets, you just have to go out there and do it,” Bleich said. “I think I started two periods late. I think the nerves started getting to me and I started wrestling too late.”
Bleich used what he learned in the first match and came in against Milton-Union’s Kamron Paulus looking more like the freshman who had lost one match this season.
In fact, Paulus didn’t have a chance as Bleich controlled things the entire five minutes in a 9-2 win.
“Coming into the match I felt like there was a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Bleich said. “There was no pressure. I lost that first match, but losing it pretty much wiped out the nerves.”
Those nerves were gone for Schill, as well, after getting pinned in his opener by Bainbridge Paint Valley’s Teagan McFadden.
The mental mistake he made showed him exactly what he needed to fix — and quick. Cory-Rawson’s Dylen Hartman would send him home two-and-out, or Schill would still be wrestling today.
Hartman never had a chance in a 10-4 win by Schill.
“I didn’t look at who I wrestled the second match and concentrated on my moves and ended up breaking him,” Schill said. “Once I figured out my set of shots would work, I started hitting it again and again.”
The wins put the Panthers pair in some rare air, as they sit a match from becoming state placers. For Bleich, who has the chance to join three-time state champ Scott Burnett as the only four-time state qualifiers for Elyria Catholic, it’s an opportunity for greatness.
For Schill it’s an opportunity to go out in style in his senior season.
“The nerves are out for Stan,” Elyria Catholic coach Josh Taylor said. “They’re gone. Having the opportunity to be the next state qualifier since Scott Burnett, the confidence is there after that first match. Not only for this match, but the next three years.
“Jerot started out slow, but once he got that first takedown it was over. That helps him a lot. I was talking to him two weeks before sectional and he said he’d probably go two-and-out at district. To take second at district and win one at state means a lot.”
As far as the duo’s chances to reach the podium, neither expects those nerves to jump up this morning in the second round of consolation.
“When you wrestle, at the beginning of the year you don’t say I want to be a state qualifier,” Bleich said. “You say I want to be a state champion. I can’t be a state champ, so I’ll do my best to wrestle back for third.”
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
1. Delta 31.0, 2. Day. Christian 22.0, 3. Apple Creek Waynedale 15.0, T-4. Col. Bishop Hartley 11.0, T-4. Mechanicsburg 11.0, 6. Norwalk St. Paul 10.5, T-7. Bainbridge Paint Valley 10.0, T-7. Rootstown 10.0, T-7. Troy Christian 10.0, T-7. W. Salem Northwestern 10.0, T.7 Willard 10.0.
T-32. Sullivan Black River 4.0, T-44. Rocky River Lutheran West 3.0, T-61. Elyria Cath. 2.0.
106: Sebastian Vidika, Sullivan Black River pin Colton Bethel, W. Lafayette Ridgewood 0:44
113: Evan Ulinski, Elmore Woodmore dec. Stan Bleich, Elyria Cath. 12-6.
126: Noah Mattin, Delta dec. Tim Mecklenburg, Rocky River Lutheran W. 8-5.
152: Anthony Decarlo, Spring. Cath. Central dec. Jake DeLorge, Rocky River Lutheran W 15-8.
160: Teagan Mcfadden, Bainbridge Paint Valley pin Jerot Schill, Elyria Cath. 2:37.
Consolation Round One
113: Stan Bleich, Elyria Cath. dec. Kamron Paulus, W. Milton Milton-Union 9-2.
126: Tim Mecklenburg, Rocky River Lutheran W. maj. dec. Josh Clary, Day. Christian 9-1.
152: Jake DeLorge, Rocky River Lutheran W. dec. Lincoln Parsley, Archbold 7-5.
160: Jerot Schill, Elyria Cath. dec. Dylen Hartman, Rawson Cory-Rawson 10-4.