Dave Pickerel beat Branko Busick of Steubenville in the D-II 215-pound semifinal.
COLUMBUS - Dave Pickerel gave Irish eyes a reason to smile Friday.
After Central Catholic saw two of its wrestlers lose in the championship semifinals of the Division II state tournament Friday, Pickerel punched his ticket for the championship match at 215 pounds with a default victory over Branko Busick of Steubenville.
Pickerel controlled the match throughout and was leading 7-1 when Busick was unable to continue because of a knee injury suffered in the quarterfinals.
"I knew his knee was hurting, so I tried to focus on that leg," said Pickerel, a senior who improved to 28-5. "You could see that his knee hurting made him a little sloppy, so I tried to take advantage of that.
"Since my freshman year I've been going for this, so it's just now starting to sink in that I'm going for a state championship. I'm just going to go out, wrestle hard, and win a state title."
Central's other semifinalists were Dan Cook at 119 and Jake Henderson at 189. Cook was pinned by Johnni DeJulius of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in
2:19, while Henderson lost a 3-0 decision to Nick Mills of Hunting Valley University School.
"It looked as if Jake was on the defensive side in his match," Irish coach Mitch Naufel said. "Mills is a very good wrestler, and you have to be able to generate some offense to beat someone as good as him.
"Danny just ran into a buzz saw."
Oak Harbor s Drew Stone takes University School s James Inghram to the mat in the Division II 119-pound state semifi nal. Stone will wrestle for a state championship in Columbus Saturday.
Naufel hopes that Cook and Henderson can rebound in the consolation semifinals Saturday morning. Both can finish as high as third and no lower than sixth.
"One of the hardest things to do is to come back and finish third after losing in the semis," Naufel said. "There's a big emotional letdown, so it takes a lot of toughness to come back and place high in the consolations."
The other local wrestler who advanced to the state championship match was Oak Harbor's Drew Stone at 119. Stone will take a shot at DeJulius in the finals after posting a 9-7 win over James Inghram of University School.
"I tried to push the tempo," said Stone, a junior who improved to 39-2 with the victory. "I didn't want to get taken down by him in the first period, but I knew I could beat him on the mat and I thought I could take him down if I needed to.
"I could feel him getting tired, and that's when I wrestle my best because I can use all of my set-ups. That's how I've won a lot of matches this year - with my conditioning."
Maumee's Michael Graves advanced to the championship semifinals at 152 before suffering a 6-4 loss to Huston Evans of St. Paris Graham. The tight match saw Graves use an escape with a minute left to tie the match at 4-4 and force overtime, only to surrender a takedown with 15 seconds left to suffer the loss.
Among the other local Division II wrestlers besides Cook, Henderson and Graves who have assured themselves a spot among the top competitors in their weight class this year are B.J. Miller of Defiance, who will wrestle for seventh at 112; Wauseon's Michael Perez and Carson Frey, who will wrestle for seventh at 119 and 130, respectively; and Ian Miller of Oak Harbor, who will finish no lower than sixth at 135.
At 145 Mikkel Johnson of Maumee will finish no lower than sixth while Terry Wagenhauser of Defiance will wrestle for seventh and Oak Harbor's Mike Mallernee will wrestle for seventh at 160. Jason Brown of Napoleon and Nick McCall of Wauseon will wrestle one another for seventh at 171, while Ashton Brown of Eastwood can finish no lower than sixth at 189 and Vincenzo Cardone of Central can finish no lower than sixth at 285.
Northwest Ohio will not have anyone wrestling in the Division I championship matches, but six have assured themselves of placing among the top eight.
Clay's Nick Garcia will finish no lower than sixth at 103, while Justin Wharton will wrestle for seventh at 160. Other local place-winners are Alex Marzec of St. Francis, who will wrestle for seventh at 119; Michael Alexander, who will wrestle for seventh at 171; Southview's Greg Isley, who can finish no lower than sixth at 189; and Dennis Cox of Bowling Green, who will wrestle for seventh at 285.
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