By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS — Over the course of a grueling three-day weekend, the pressure to win a state championship can be exhausting.
Once that pressure is off, though, all of that leftover stress and disappointment can transform into fuel.
Miami East’s Graham Shore (120) and Troy Christian’s Ethan Turner (106) and Jacob Edwards (113) all wrestled back from disappointing losses on Friday to claim third-place finishes at the Division III state wrestling tournament Saturday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, with the Eagles’ Jared Ford (138) adding a fifth-place finish and Seth Douglas (285) finishing 7th.
Shore had the farthest to wrestle back after dropping a quarterfinal match on Friday. But two tech. falls and a major decision later, the junior collected his second consecutive third-place finish.
“You know, I really thought this was my year,” Shore said. “I gave it all I had, but things just didn’t move in my favor in that quarterfinal match. But I’ve been there before, having to wrestle back to get third, so it gave me a little fire.”
And he took it out on his opposition. Shore scored a pair of tech. falls in the consolation bracket on Friday, then he defeated Delta’s Cole Mattin 7-2 in the consolation semifinal Saturday morning to earn a shot at third or fourth place. There, he dominated Rootstown’s Dalton Leightner, scoring a 9-1 major decision.
“It’s all mental,” Shore said. “I had my head on straight, and I wanted to go out and leave it all on the mat. I don’t think I could’ve wrestled much better than I did. It just wasn’t my year, I guess. But summer season starts now to make next year my year.”
“Scoring that major helped us with some team points,” Miami East coach Mark Rose said. “We’re trying to stay on the board, are in ninth by a point right now, so any bonus points help. Graham giving us two tech. falls and a major? Those are big bonus points.
“This tournament is just so crazy. You can look at the rankings and predictions — and throw them all in the toilet. They don’t matter. It depends on who has a good day, who has a bad day and who can get the luck — and there’s a lot of luck that goes into this. I’m excited for Graham, getting third two years in a row. He had a goal to get top three, and he did it.”
The Eagles, meanwhile, bounced back and went 4-0 in the final round.
Troy Christian’s Edwards — a junior — had the added pressure of having been in the championship finals last year, when he finished as state runner-up. He was edged 1-0 by another state runner-up from last season in Friday semifinals, then Saturday morning he defeated Preble Shawnee’s Camron Neal 7-2 to earn a shot at third.
“I didn’t want to let my emotions from last night get to me today,” Edwards said. “I wanted to finish strong, and I went out today and executed.”
In the third-place match, Edwards took control early and, holding a two-point lead in the third period, put the match out of reach with one final takedown to defeat Milan Edison’s Dylan Burns 6-2.
“It feels good to come back and win two more today,” Edwards said. “I ended on a good note, but being in the finals is better. This is going to motivate me more to be on top of the podium next year. I’m going to go back, work on some things, keep tweaking and hopefully be on top next year.”
Turner, a freshman who had his sights set on being a four-time state champion until Friday’s semifinal loss, defeated West Lafayette Ridgewood’s Colton Bethel 3-1 in sudden victory overtime in the consolation semifinal to get to the third-place match.
“I just knew going into the overtime that I had prepared enough this season,” Turner said. “I know I’m able to go six (minutes) plus if need be.”
In the final round, he picked apart Nelsonville-York’s Collin Yinger, winning 6-0 to take third place.
“I feel like I got back to my old self as the tournament progressed,” Turner said. “I reeled in everything from last night so I could just go out and execute. And I appreciate all my coaches and everyone that helped me get to this spot.
“Now the goal is to be a three-time champion. I’m going to come back next year and hopefully win it.”
Ford, a first-time state qualifier as a junior, lost 3-1 to Creston Norwayne’s Gavin Stika in the consolation semifinal Saturday morning, but he bounced back against Galion Northmor’s Conan Becker in the final round. Ford held a 4-3 lead late in the third period — and instead of playing defense, he threw down a five-point move with a takedown and three near-fall points to win 9-3.
“I was actually planning to protect,” Ford said with a laugh. “But that move was just there, so I went for it. It just happened. It feels good to end the season on a good note and go out strong.
“I was just hoping to place coming in. Last year, I didn’t place at district. I was hoping to place a little higher, though, and next year I’m hoping to have a good summer, come back and win it.”
Douglas, a senior and state qualifier as a sophomore, faced Massilon Tuslaw’s Brayden Phillips in the match for seventh place. Douglas took a 1-0 lead in the second period and battled from there, maintaining control for the entire third period to finish seventh with the 1-0 win.
“I really wasn’t,” Douglas said when asked if he was worried in the third. “I’ve practiced being on top all year. I have a lot of 1-0 victories in my career.”
Douglas almost turned his opponent twice in the third, but Phillips was able to get out of bounds. Then, after a restart with 11 seconds left, Phillips got to his feet and nearly escaped to tie it — but Douglas kept hold of one leg, and they were ruled out of bounds with four seconds left.
“I was just thinking I can’t let this go,” Douglas said. “I didn’t want to go to overtime.
“It feels great (to place for the first time). I just trained really hard with a couple friends that graduated last year. I knew I could make it back. I just pushed real hard.”
Troy Christian left the morning session sitting in seventh place as a team with 50.5 points.
“We wrestled well today, bounced back and won all of our placement matches,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “We’ve got a lot to build on. We had two placers last year, doubled that this year. But it’s never enough. And I think that’s what keeps driving us. It can never be enough unless you all win championships.
“We had a great group of kids this year, and they all gave great effort. We just need to work on giving that effort and always doing the right things every time. We were happy with today, now we just want to fix what needs fixed. We’re trying to get back to where we were.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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