By David Fong
COLUMBUS — Third place simply wasn’t good enough.
Not for Ethan Turner.
Not for Graham Shore.
Not for Jacob Edwards.
Last year, all three county wrestlers — Turner and Edwards from Troy Christian and Shore from Miami East — got tripped up in their respective bids for state titles, with none of them reaching the championship match all three being forced to settle for third place.
Not this year.
All three won their semifinal matches — Turner at 113 pounds, Shore at 120 pounds and Edwards at 132 pounds — Friday during the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament and all three will wrestle Saturday evening with state titles on the line.
“We’ve got some Miami County representation in the finals,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “Three wrestlers in the finals. That’s good stuff.”
Miami County went 3-2 in the semifinals Friday during the evening session at the Schottenstein Center, with Turner, Shore and Edwards winning and Covington freshman Kellan Anderson (106 pounds) and Miami East senior Alex Isbrandt (138 pounds) losing in the semifinals.
Here’s a look at how all five wrestlers fared in the semifinals:
Ethan Turner (Troy Christian)
Turner — who lost in the semifinals at 106 pounds last year before rebounding to place third — was brutally efficient Friday, spending as little time as possible on the mat. In his quarterfinal match, he pinned Pemberville Eastwood’s Brandon Hahn in just 1:34 to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, he pinned Milan Edison’s Ray Adams in 1:47.
In Saturday’s title match, he’ll face Genoa Area’s Oscar Sanchez, the wrestlers who defeated him in last year’s semifinal match.
“Get on and get off,” Turner said of his relatively light workload Friday. “This feels awesome. It’s kind of unreal. But I’ve got to be ready to go (Saturday in the state finals). I’ve got to step it up even more and wrestle a perfect match.”
It’s a rematch Turner has been thinking about since last season.
“Last year’s loss in the semifinals hit me hard,” he said. “I wanted to go on a vision quest of redemption this year. I wanted to get to the finals on Saturday and now I’m there. Now I’ve got to go out and wrestle even better.”
Graham Shore (Miami East)
The way Shore sees things, too much is never enough.
“My goal is to score as many points as I can,” said Shore, who did just that Friday. In the quarterfinals, he earned a 16-6 major decision over Oak Harbor’s Cameron Dickman. In the semifinals, he beat Ashland Crestview’s Clay Eagle 9-3.
“My goal is to score as many points as possible and never coast,” Shore said. “If I’m up 10 points, I want to get up 12 points. My goal is to put up as many points as I can. I feel like if I can put up 10 points, I can’t lose. I don’t think anyone can score 10 points on me.”
Scoring points is especially important to Shore, considering his near misses the past two years. Two years ago, he lost by one point in the semifinals. Last year, he lost by a similar margin to Genoa Area’s Julian Sanchez in the quarterfinals. This year, he’ll get a rematch with Sanchez in the finals.
“I’m not nervous at all,” Shore said. “I’m a senior and my college (he’ll wrestle at the United States Air Force Academy) is taken care of. I’m going to sleep in (Saturday) and go to Dave and Busters in the morning.”
Jacob Edwards (Troy Christian)
Unlike Turner and Shore, Edwards has been to a state championship match, placing second as a sophomore. Last year, however, he lost in the semifinals and had to settle for third place.
He cruised to victory in the quarterfinals, beating Sycamore Mohawk’s Daniel Price by a 17-1 technical fall. In the semifinals against Rootstown’s Niko Chilson, he gutted out a 4-3 victory to earn a spot in the finals. In that match, he led early, but suffered a bloody nose during the match and struggled to get it to stop bleeding.
Eventually, the athletic trainers on the scene had to wrap his entire head in gauze so he could finish out the final 30 seconds of the match.
“It just wouldn’t step bleeding,” he said. “It bled through the nose plug.”
In Saturday’s finals, Edwards will face nationally ranked Genoa Area junior Dylan D’Emilio, a two-time state champ. Two years ago, D’Emilio beat Edwards in the championship match. After falling short of the finals last year, Edwards said hard work made the difference this year.
“I’ve been thinking about last year quite a bit,” Edwards said. “It sparked me to get back in the room and work that much harder and lift like crazy.”
Alex Isbrandt (Miami East)
Isbrant — who placed second at state last year — suffered an upset loss in the semifinals, losing 10-6 to Apple Creek Waynesdale’s Evan Hostetler.Earlier in the day, he fell behind early to Milan Edison’s Jordan Keegan in the quarterfinals before coming back for a 6-2 win.
“The kid caught him with a five-point move and a four-point move,” Miami East coach Mark Rose said of Isbrandt’s semifinal match. “Give the kid all the credit in the world. He knew how to hit the move and he did it.”
Kellen Anderson (Covington)
Covington freshman Kellan Anderson (106 pounds) opened his day with an 11-2 major decision over Mantua Crestwood’s Brett Szuhay. Milan Edison’s Casey Barnett beat Anderson 9-2 in the semifinals.
For Anderson, though, just making it to state and guaranteeing himself a spot on the podium has been an accomplishment.
“It feels great,” he said. “When you put in all the hard work, it pays off.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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