COLUMBUS - Delta wrestling coach Jeff Wolford went through a gamut of emotions yesterday starting with a thoroughly distressing last second loss and ending with a poignant win.
In the Division III state championship semifinals, Wolford saw his 112-pound junior Jonny Tolson go down despite leading by two points with eight seconds left. But he then saw his 160-pound senior Derrick Yant advance to the finals.
"This is real bittersweet," said Wolford, whose Panthers were in seventh place after the second day at the Schottenstein Center. "I'm a little emotional because I had one lose with eight seconds to go and I have another that won. I feel like I'm schizophrenic."
Yant, who finished fourth last year and was eighth in 2006, gave himself a chance to win it all with a 6-3 win over Alex Utley of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.
"I finally got a chance to make it," Yant said. "But my work's not done."
Tolson (38-7) still could finish third. Otsego also has two wrestlers that have opportunities to finish third. Senior heavyweight Jacob Southwick and senior Andrew Johnson (135) also went 1-1 yesterday and will wrestle in the consolation finals. Liberty Center senior Chad McClory also won his quarterfinal before falling in the semis.
Yant avoided facing defending state champ Steve Wilson of Marion Pleasant, who was upset in the semis, and will face a wrestler he has defeated.
"There's no one out there that deserves a state title more than Derrick Yant," Wolford said. "I've never had a kid work as hard as him."
Yant will face Colin Heasely of Worthington Christian.
"I've beaten him handily. But he's still a tough kid," Yant said.
Tolson led his semifinal with eight seconds left and heartbreakingly lost. Tolson was up 8-6 but Tyler Heminger of Galion Northmor threw him to his back and pinned him. Heminger called it "basically a football tackle" and said Tolson made a tactical error.
"All Jonny had to do was circle," Wolford said. "He tried to but the other kid shot right in and took him to his back and pinned him. I've never seen anything like that in all my 20 years of coaching. I feel so bad for him. He just has to come back and wrestle tough. He's going to place at state and that's more than anyone thought he would do."
McClory advanced through the championship quarterfinals at 189. But McClory then lost 3-2 to Nathan Jones of Troy Christian.
Johnson and Southwick both won quarterfinal matches to qualify for last evening's semis. Otsego coach Scott Hreben said he believes it is the first time two Otsego grapplers reached the semifinals in the same year.
Johnson trailed two-time state qualifier Jordan Thome of Troy Christian just 2-0 before he was pinned in the third.
"I tried to stand up and he took me to my back," Johnson said. "I just need to put it behind me and I'm looking forward to finishing high."
Southwick faced top ranked Don Stocum (41-1) of Kirtland. Both came in with one loss. But Stocum decisioned Southwick 6-0.
"That match was for the state title," Hreben said. "Stocum was ranked No. 1 and Justin was No. 2. It was a tough loss. I was surprised he could not get out from the bottom. But he's had a heck of a career at Otsego. We'll re-gather. We have another day ahead of us."
The Panthers' Sam Carrisalez (125) and Tyler Gombash (140) won Thursday but then lost twice and were eliminated. Only two of six Delta qualifiers have a chance to place.
"I thought God must be cursing me," Wolford said. "But God evens things out. I told Derrick it was his turn in his match and he got it done."
Elmwood's Alex Betts reached the second day, but was eliminated at 145.
At 152, Archbold's Tyler Short and Genoa's Doug Wagner survived day one, but were ousted yesterday. Toledo Christian's Nate Bayly (189) also was eliminated after remaining alive through the first day.
Contact Mark Monroe at:
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