By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS — Everything Kellen Calhoun has accomplished along the path to the state wrestling tournament has been a Bethel High School first.
Thursday, he scored his biggest one yet.
Calhoun, Bethel’s first and only wrestler in school history, scored a pin in the opening round of the Division III state tournament Thursday at the Schottenstein Center, earning the school’s first victory on the state’s biggest stage and joining a host of Miami County wrestlers from Miami East, Troy Christian, Covington and Tippecanoe to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Kellen Calhoun didn’t let the fact that Bethel didn’t have a wrestling program stop him from getting to the state tournament.
He wasn’t about to let nerves stop him once he got there, either.
Calhoun, a senior, scored a first-round pin in 1:43 over Martins Ferry’s Richard McFarland, becoming the first Bethel High School wrestler ever to win a match at the Division III state tournament Thursday at the Schottenstein Center.
“It feels good. It’s what I’ve been working for since I was a kid,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun’s first obstacle was the fact that Bethel didn’t offer a wrestling program. But his father and coach, Kelly, helped create a setup to give his son a chance to wrestle wearing a Bees jersey — and he may have been more emotional than his son after watching Kellen win Thursday.
“I’ve got to try not to cry,” Kelly said. “It’s tough. But as for how I feel, it feels really good. That’s how he’s been wrestling the past two weeks, solid and smart. It about kills me every time. But I would be proud of him no matter what.
“After he finished junior high, he wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I politely persuaded the athletic director that we were having wrestling, and we got with coach (Scott) Herbert over at Tecumseh, and that’s who we’ve practiced with over the past four years.”
All of that work couldn’t have prepared him for walking out to the mat in front of the massive Schottenstein Center crowd, though, and Kellen was a bit intimidated at first — not by his opponent, but by the atmosphere.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Kellen said. “But my dad and coach Herbert told me that it’s just another match and to just do my best, tried to get the nerves out of me.”
As it turned out, Kellen took care of those nerves on his own, scoring a takedown in the opening 30 seconds to gain the advantage and never letting go until he stuck the pin.
“It helped a lot (getting the first takedown),” Kellen said. “It helped relieve some of the stress. They called me for locking hands on it, though, but it didn’t (affect him).”
Calhoun will now face Smithville’s Riley Smucker in the quarterfinal round on Friday. And after accomplishing every goal he set along the way — winning a sectional championship, a district title and qualifying for state — he keeps moving the bar even higher with each new step.
“Now I want to at least place,” he said. “I’ve got to move fast, dial it up, wrestle smart and not give up stupid points.”
Miami East, which won the sectional and district team championships over the past two weeks, sat tied with Troy Christian for seventh place with 9.5 points after the state tournament’s first championship round, advancing three of its four wrestlers to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Alex Isbrandt (138) — who was a state runner-up last season and is the No. 1 seed in his bracket — had little trouble with Nelsonville-York’s Brian Heller to open the tournament, pinning him in 4:32 to advance. He will face Milan Edison’s Jordan Keegan in his quarterfinal match.
Graham Shore (120) also advanced easily, defeating Apple Creek Waynedale’s Storm Stanley with a 23-8 tech. fall. Shore, who placed third at the weight last season, will face Oak Harbor’s Cameron Dickman in the quarterfinal round.
And Brenden Dalton (220) rallied from an early deficit against West Jefferson’s Hunter Braithwaite, winning a 5-3 decision to advance to the quarterfinal round, where he will face Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic’s Chris Kuhn.
Kaleb Nickels (126) dropped his first-round match, falling 7-5 to Swanton’s Trevor Schaller. He then faced Independence’s Michael Kucera in the first consolation round, bouncing back from an early deficit to win 9-6 and stay alive for Friday.
The Eagles, who finished as the team runners-up to the Vikings in the sectional and district tournaments the past two weeks, sat tied with Miami East for seventh place after the tournament’s first championship round with 9.5 points, advancing three of their five state qualifiers to Friday’s quarterfinals.
Jared Ford (138) — who placed fifth at the weight last season and has been ranked No. 2 in the state behind Miami East’s Isbrandt most of the year — breezed through his first-round match, defeating Caldwell’s Collin Wiley in a 23-8 tech. fall. He will now face Genoa Area’s Dustin Morgillo in the quarterfinal round. Genoa Area sits in first place in the team standings with 19.5 points after one day.
Jacob Edwards (132) also scored bonus points in his first-round match, winning by a 17-4 major decision over Brooklyn’s Andrew Zarins. He will face Sycamore Mohawk’s Daniel Price in the quarterfinals.
And Ethan Turner (113) also scored a major decision in his first-round match, defeating Coshocton’s Austin Guthrie 11-2. He will face Pemberville Eastwood’s Brandon Hahn in the quarterfinals.
Craig Montgomery (170) dropped his first-round match via pinfall in 5:52 to Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley’s Jackson Dunn. He then faced Lorain Clearview’s Julian Colbert in the first consolation round, holding on for a 4-3 victory to stay alive for Friday.
Damon Beatty (182) was pinned in 2:44 by Apple Creek Waynedale’s Logan Stanley in the first round. He then injury defaulted in the first consolation round and was eliminated from competition.
The Buccaneers brought four wrestlers to the state tournament, but only one of them was able to win in the first round Thursday and advance to Friday’s championship quarterfinal round.
Kellan Anderson (106) got the day started on the right foot for Covington, pinning Delaware Christian’s Josh Proper in 1:20 in his first-round match. He will now face Mantua Crestwood’s Brett Szuhay in the quarterfinals.
Cael Vanderhorst (113) fought hard against Barnesville’s Brayden Reynolds in the first round, falling 2-1 in a tiebreaker. In the first consolation round, he faced North Lima South Range’s Kyle Keenan, winning 3-0 to stay alive.
Keringten Martin (152) also lost a hard-fought match in the first round, dropping a 3-1 decision to Swanton’s Chase Moore. He then faced Galion Northmor’s Conor Becker, falling 8-5 to be eliminated from competition.
Gage Kerrigan (195) was pinned in the first round in 1:02 by Bloomdale Elmwood’s Dylan Hinton. In the first consolation round, he faced Sullivan Black River’s Jacob Campbell and was pinned with 16 seconds remaining in the second period to be eliminated from competition.
Dylan Schenck (145), the Bulldogs’ lone state qualifier this season, dropped his first-round match in a narrow 3-1 decision to Archbold’s Gavin Grime.
In the first consolation round, he faced Bridgeport’s Mason Kuneff, taking the match to overtime tied 2-2 after three periods before falling 4-2 in sudden-victory overtime to be eliminated from competition.
* Division II
Caleb Blake had to wait until the daylight was gone on the first day of the state tournament to get a win last season.
This year, he got impatient.
The Tippecanoe senior scored a 9-1 major decision over Cuyahoga Falls CVCA’s Justin West in the first round of the Division II state wrestling tournament Thursday at the Schottenstein Center, advancing to Friday’s championship quarterfinal round.
Blake — who lost in the opening round last year, won in the consolation round to stay alive for the tournament’s second day then was eliminated in the second consolation round — will now face Carrollton’s Ben Pasiuk in the quarterfinal round.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU