By David Fong
COLUMBUS — As the No. 5-ranked wrestler in the country within his weight class and the prohibitive favorite to win a state title, Dylan D’Emilio’s reputation preceded him.
Jacob Edwards knew about it and respected it … but certainly didn’t fear it.
“My mindset was to come in here and to win a state title — that was my goal,” Edwards said. “We knew how good he was. We knew he was nationally ranked. But I just wanted to come in here and do what I do and wrestle my match.”
Unfortunately for the Troy Christian sophomore, however, his heart and his desire wasn’t enough Saturday in the
Division III 106-pound state title match at the Schottenstein Center, as D’Emilio, a freshman from Genoa Area High School, pinned Edwards in the second period to capture a state title, making Edwards the state runner-up.
Edwards wrestled D’Emilio even through the first half of the first period, before D’Emilio was able to hit a takedown with a little less than a minute left in the period to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. In the second period, D’Emilio was able to score another takedown before tilting Edwards onto his back and picking up the pin with 1:27 left in the period.
“We got some scouting reports on him and we knew how tough he was on top,” Edwards said. “He’s tough everywhere, but he’s especially tough on top. But I still wanted to come in and stick to what I do and just be confident in myself.”
While Saturday’s loss was a disappointment for Edwards, he knows how far he’s come in the past year alone. Last year he qualified for state, but went 1-2, making a quick exit on the second of three days of competition.
“In the summer, I do a lot of training; I compete in a lot of open tournaments,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’ve improved. I’ve also gotten a lot bigger. I was a small 106-pounder last year.”
Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said he has no doubts Edwards will only continue to get better his final two years at Troy Christian — and won’t rest until he’s standing atop the podium in Columbus.
“He’s a kid who really wants to be a state champion, and he’s going to do what it takes to be successful,” Goudy said. “To me, getting to the state finals means you are successful. But I know he wants more. Jacob is the kind of kid who goes in the room every day looking to get better at something. He’s not just going in there to work out, he wants to get better at something. That’s why you see the growth in him.
“This kid works hard. He’s also academic all-state, I think he has a 3.85 grade point average taking honors courses. He’s the complete package, man. He is the kind of kid you want other kids to emulate. I’m sure he’ll take the day off tomorrow, then he’ll get right back after it again.”
“I’ll get back to work tomorrow,” Edwards said, managing a slight grin after an emotional loss. “I want to get better.”
Which may be why the rest of the competition should be concerned with Edwards’ growing reputation.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong