MENTOR – Over the course of its Division I wrestling district meet, the Fremont Ross wrestling team couldn’t catch a break.
Injuries, illness and tough draws plagued the Little Giants throughout the weekend allowing just one wrestler, senior Caleb Wood, to extend his season by qualifying for the state meet by finishing third in his 195-pound weight class.
“To be successful at this time of the year, everything has to fall into place, but it wasn’t meant to be this year with only qualifying one out of five to the state tournament,” Ross wrestling coach Chad Hetrick said.
No Little Giant had worse luck than Charles Chapman at 132 pounds. He entered the tournament battling a cold and a bruised sternum he suffered in the sectional tournament. He coasted in the first round, scoring a major decision win setting up a match with Mentor’s Nate Deboe.
“It wasn’t going to be easy, but we thought he could take the win,” Hetrick said.
And the early stages of the match were promising, as Chapman scored the first two takedowns of the bout. But later in the match, Chapman sustained a nose bleed which bled for 4 minutes, 39 seconds of the five minutes allowed for a bleeding-related stoppage.
Chapman returned to the match but Hetrick and his coaches quickly had to stop it.
“Chapman (goes) out and gets taken down, doesn’t look good at all so we fire out of our coaching chairs and stop the match,” Hetrick said. “With the loss of blood, bruised sternum and head cold, it was too much for his body to recover from.”
Jackson Weisseinger had high hopes entering his 160-pound bracket but his luck went downhill long before the tournament even started. He spent the week leading to the meet battling the flu. Still feeling the effects of his illness, the No. 1-seeded Weissinger lost his first-round match, sending him into the consolation bracket.
He rebounded to win his next two matches by pins, but in the consolation quarterfinals, his season came to an end against Oregon Clay’s Troy Murphy.
“It is a tough match when’s Jackson’s 100 percent, so he was going to have to win this match on heart,” Hetrick said. “Needless to say, he gave it his all, but didn’t pull it off. Heading into the third period gasping for air we could tell Jackson was mentally broke at that point. Weissinger is only a junior he’ll be back next year to give it a final shot at the state tournament.”
At 152 pounds, Keaton Jordan got his tournament off to a tremendous start. He won his first match with an 18-9 major decision. He led his second-round match with less than a minute remaining but instead of trying to block and stay busy, Jordan saw an opening for a takedown. Rather than putting the match away, however, Jordan got caught by Markie McElroy who ended up taking the 10-6 victory.
“Can’t discredit Keaton for his efforts in this match,” Hetrick said. “Saturday morning continued with the black cloud over our heads.”
Jordan met Clay’s Kyle Miller and led 1-0 entering the third period but Miller caught Jordan and scored a pin in the final seconds of the match.
“Keaton had a great season after being off all last season because of injuries,” Hetrick said.
Mike Thomas entered his 285-pound bracket with momentum, having won TRAC and sectional tournament championships, and it carried him to a first-round pin to begin his district. Then Thomas met with Midview’s Daniel Buckavich, the bracket’s eventual champion, and was pinned in the first period. Thomas rebounded with consolation-bracket victory before meeting Ashland’s Jake Beaver.
“Jake beat Mike earlier this season by a pin,” Hetrick said. “Mike wasn’t having anything to do with that, he gave Beaver all he could handle and ended up coming up short with a 3-2 loss. Beaver went on to place third, so not a bad tournament for Big Mike, losing to the champion and third-place finisher.”
As for Wood, the two-time state qualifier kicked his tournament off easily, scoring a pair of wins in his first two matches. In the championship semifinals, Wood ran into Avon’s Jordan Greer who sent Wood to the consolation bracket with a 10-1 decision loss.
There, Wood faced off against Elyria’s Lewis Aguilar, with the winner advancing to the third/fourth-place match, securing a place at the state meet.
“Caleb wasted no time,” Hetrick said. “Right off the whistle, (Wood) charges Lewis, throwing him into a bear hug and getting the pin in one minute.”
With his spot in Columbus secure, the only thing remaining was to determine is Wood would enter as the third seed or a four seed. He defeated Clay’s Ty Cobb in a 7-5 decision to finish third in his bracket.
“Looking ahead to state for Caleb, he didn’t get the best draw in the bracket but should be able to win his first match and then he will have freshman Seth Shumate of Dublin Coffman,” Hetrick said. “It’s up to Caleb at this point to determine the outcome of his last remaining matches at the state tournament. Caleb is mean and aggressive on the mat, so he can destroy anyone he wants if he goes out there with an attitude.”
The wrestling state meet begins Thursday at 3 p.m. and runs through Saturday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.