By Garth Shanklin
For the second consecutive season, the Bethel-Tate Tiger wrestling squad made the trip up I-71 to compete in the state quarterfinals, held at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, for the second straight season the team drew the eighth seed and a tough matchup in the first round, which this time resulted in a 62-6 loss for Bethel-Tate against Genoa Area on Sunday, Feb. 11.
The match began with Genoa’s Corey Walsh pinning Bethel-Tate’s Joe Reinert in 3:21 at the 106-pound class.
In the 113-pound division, Devin D’Emilo defeated Zack Gutknecht 2-1, followed by returning state champion Oscar Sanchez defeating Trey Sander 13-5 at 120.
Another returning state placer, Julian Sanchezz, pinned Donnie Harrison in 39 seconds at the 126-pound class.
Dylan D’Emilio pinned Austin Carter in 3:00 at 132, followed by Dustin Morgillo defeating Mike Whittington via tech fall (16-1) at 138.
In the 145-pound class, Jacob Stewart pinned Jonah Blakenship in 3:30, followed by Kevin Contos defeating Matt Hall 10-3 in the 152-pound division.
James Limongi pinned Bethel-Tate’s Cooper Dunn in 51 seconds in the 160-pound class. Seth Moore pinned Owen Holtke in 3:26 at 160, and Xavier Beach defeated Owen Mattes via tech fall (15-0) at 182.
The 195-pound match went to Genoa’s Brian Martin 10-5. Bethel-Tate’s first and only win of the dual came at 220, where Bradley Lewis pinned his opponent in 17 seconds. The Tigers’ Jayce Glenn fell to Noah Koch 4-0 in the 285-pound bout.
Bethel-Tate head coach Tom Donahue said the Tigers, while happy to advance to the state quarterfinals, did not wrestle at their best level in the match.
“Coming into the season, our goal was to make it here,” Donahue said. “We achieved that goal. We had a tough draw. Genoa’s tough, they’re going to be state champs, probably here and individual. We could’ve competed better. We didn’t show our best selves, which his disappointing, but like I said, in the grand scheme of things, this match wasn’t on our radar.”
Genoa Area would go on to defeat Versailles 52-9 in the semifinals. They won the team title with a 40-20 win over Tuslaw in the Division III championship match.
In terms of Bethel-Tate’s lone victory, Donahue said he felt that the Tigers had an advantage at 220, with the rest of the matchups being close, unlike last year, where the Tigers had an advantage at several weight classes.
“He was the match coming in that, I told him, we need the bonus points,” Donahue said. “Everyone else we knew would be close. They have a full line up of state champs and state qualifiers. Our better kids last year didn’t match up with the better kids on Mechanicsburg, that gave us a few favorable matchups. This year, we didn’t have those. They were all tough.”
In addition to the difference in the matchups on the mat, Donahue said the event as a whole was treated a bit differently by the team this year.
“There was a little bit less hype this year,” Donahue said. “It was new last year. We kind of knew what to expect coming into it. The message over the last couple weeks that, once we get here, not to have a let down. They were so excited and the fans were so excited last year that when we got into the sectionals, there was a little bit of a letdown. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Bethel-Tate begins a run at the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division title on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the conference tournament in Blanchester.
“We have league next week, sectionals the week after that, then districts and state,” Donahue said. “We had an opportunity to see what we need to improve upon, and go back to work tomorrow.”
Donahue said the Tigers have to continue to get better, because the individual tournament itself still provides several challenges.
“There’s a handful of good kids at districts at this level,” Donahue said. “Even in our league, Western Brown, Goshen… everyone in our league has state-level kids. Our league is pretty deep.”
Once the Tigers finish the SBAAC tournament, the individual tournament begins with the sectional round on Feb. 24, followed by the districts on March 3. The individual state tournament begins at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on March 8 and finishes up on March 10.