(Above, Caleb Wood pins Edison’s Jackson Berardi in just 18 seconds in a match earlier this season.)
FREMONT – He’s tried to forget it, but mention it to him and the look on Caleb Wood’s face is clearly one of disgust.
Wrestling in the consolation bracket of last year’s state tournament, Wood was initially whistled for a potentially dangerous move. But after the opposing coach objected, the referees reversed their decision to an illegal move. And because Wood’s opponent was injured and not able to continue, his tournament ended in disqualification.
It’s a result that still tastes bitter.
“I ran (the move) all season. I ran it all season this season and I’ve never been called for it,” Wood said. “I’ve mostly tried to let it go. It was a one-time thing.”
But as he prepares to return to Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center for the Division I state tournament, Wood has his sights set on redemption.
“For sure. Definitely want to make it further than I did last year.”
Wrestling in the 195-pound bracket, Wood (35-9) will wrestle his first match Thursday evening against Springboro’s Jacob Kowalski (42-2).
Ross wrestling coach Chad Hetrick said the match against Kowalski is winnable if Wood brings his highest level of focus to the match.
“Looking at the projections, one of them has (Wood) beating his first kid and the other doesn’t,” Hetrick said. “If Caleb comes out there aggressive, with an attitude, I think he can beat him. It’s up to him and how he wants to perform.”
If Wood moves past Kowalski, it’ll likely set up a second-round match with one of the bracket’s favorites, 46-1 freshman Seth Shumate from Dublin Corffman.
In preparation for the tournament, Wood has been practicing this week at Genoa Area High School, where other state qualifiers throughout the area are meeting to train against other top-flight competition.
“I’m wrestling (against) a variety of different styles,” he said. “I’m getting a look at everything at the moment.”
While he’s setting his aim for the medal podium, Wood is trying not to think about the tournament signaling the end of his wrestling career.
“It hasn’t kicked in yet,” he said. “It won’t kick in until (the tournament). It’s kind of crazy for sure.
“It’s nothing to go crazy over in my mind because, no matter what, I’m still wrestling somebody,” he said of the tournament. “Got to go toe-to-toe with somebody. This week I’m not trying to go super-hard, just small, technique type stuff.”