COLUMBUS — Central Catholic's Nate Hagan advanced to the Divison II state wrestling tournament as a district champion a year ago.
But a skin rash denied him the chance to participate. He was left watching the rest of the qualifiers pursue their season-long dreams.
That's served as a major motivator this season. The memory helped drive him to a 3-1 decision over Perry's Aaran Gessic in a 132-pound championship semifinal Friday at Value City Arena.
"It's a great feeling," Hagan said. "I got my chance taken away last year, and that's what has pushed me every single day. I was just pushing harder and harder every day. I wanted to make sure nobody could stop me. I wanted to do the best I could."
PHOTO GALLERY: Wrestling Day 2
The Irish junior approached the state semifinal more calm and confident than nervous.
"I had butterflies, but not a lot," he said. "I was confident in myself. I played the match over in my head plenty of times and I knew what I was going to do and I knew I was going to execute the plan."
Hagan (40-10) will not be the only Irish wrestler seeking a state championship today.
Alex Mossing (34-3), a senior, will have a chance to win his second state title after pulling out a tough 2-1 nail-biter win over Cuyahoga Falls CVCA's Jeff Hojnacki at 152.
Josh Mossing (38-9), a junior and Alexis’ cousin, will also compete for a state championship after he scored a 3-1 sudden-victory win over Parma Padua Franciscan's Kyle Kaminski in a 138 semifinal.
Central's Josh Venia put up a good fight on the 106 semifinal against Parma Padua Franciscan's Tony DeCesare, but DeCesare escaped with a 5-3 sudden victory.
Wauseon's Wade Hodges reached state as one of the favorites to contend for the 132 title. He suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 sudden victory to St. Paris Graham’s Brent Moore in a semifinal.
Wauseon coach Mike Ritter thought the finish of the match was affected by how the match was officiated.
"I'm very displeased with how that turned out and the way it turned out," Ritter said. "I wish the kids would have been able to decide it rather than the officials. Looking back maybe we should have chosen top going into that ultimate ride-out."
Napoleon's Seth Beard (113) was also denied a spot in the finals when Steubenville's Tariq Wilson pulled out a 9-7 decision.
Central Catholic's 285-pounder J'Quan Fisher was in a tight match with Beloit Branch's Logan Sharp until he ran out of gas at the end and was rolled over for a pin at the 5:22 mark.
Oak Harbor's Ben Petersen suffered a 6-3 defeat to Claymont's Caden Herron in a consolation quarterfinal.