COLUMBUS - It was a night full of celebrations for local wrestlers competing in the Division III championship finals Friday night.
Elmwood's Nick Goebel jumped into the arms of teammate Alex Betts after both won their second match in the championship round Friday.
And Patrick Henry's Alex Lopez had a smile a mile wide after he won his championship semifinal match.
As a result, all three will wrestle for state titles Saturday night at the Schottenstein Center.
Goebel remained unbeaten on the season when he earned a 7-4 decision over Jeremy Border of Caldwell at 103 pounds.
The junior used a takedown and a near-fall in the first period for a lead he guarded the rest of the match to improve to 46-0 this season.
"The pressure is still mounting, I guess," Goebel admitted. "I feel confident I can go undefeated. But if I win a state title I can stay undefeated."
Betts advanced to the finals at 145 with a 2-0 victory over Andrew Dehart of Covington. Betts scored a takedown on a long scramble midway through the first period, then controlled Dehart the rest of the match to claim the win.
"The match was my match - I wrestled it the way I wanted to, and I didn't make any mistakes," said Betts, who now is 47-3.
He then gave credit for his bout-winning move to Kyle Kwiat of Tiffin Calvert for work the pair did in the bullpen prior to the match.
"Both times I tried that on [Kwiat in the bullpen], he took me to my back," Betts said. "That's how I learned what not to do - and what to do to get the takedown. It really helped."
The winning move came when Dehart trapped both of Betts' arms; Betts switched out, got one arm free, then switched to a double to score the takedown.
Lopez also won a close match, earning a 2-1 decision over Zak Vargo of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy at 125.
Lopez scored a takedown in the first period and allowed only an escape in the final 40 seconds for the victory that lifted his season record to 45-3.
"I knew that if I won that match I was going to the finals, so I tried to take it to him," Lopez said. "The kid was tough, but I wanted the W.
"When I broke my ankle [before sectional last year], I learned that anything can happen. And I learned that getting to this point isn't something that happens with a week of work; it happens when you work and work and work all season."
Lopez knows he has an uphill battle in his championship match: He will face two-time champ Logan Stieber of Monroeville, who handed him an 18-3 technical fall in the district final at Owens
Community College one week ago.
"He's a great wrestler and a good friend, and it seems every time we meet it's in the finals of a tournament," Lopez said. "I'm going to go out there and just show him what I've got. I won't back down."
Meanwhile Goebel and Betts will look to give the Royals two state champs for the first time in school history.
"We've just staying positive, and we're not going to let anything stand in our way from a win," Elmwood coach Dave Lee said. "They've worked hard, they've wrestled against good people, and so we feel we have everything going our way."
Goebel, Betts and Lopez aren't the only local wrestlers guaranteed to be state place-winners.
Among the others who are assured a spot on the podium are Jonny Tolson of Delta at 112, who can finish no lower than sixth; Liberty Center's Jake Elling, who will wrestle for seventh place at 160; and Mimmo Lytle of Swanton, who will wrestle for seventh at 285.
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