COLUMBUS - When Nick Goebel says he's happy, you have to take him at his word.
When Elmwood's sophomore standout was done winning a title at 103 pounds in the Division III state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center Saturday night, he didn't look any more excited than if he had found a penny on the floor.
"I'm really extremely excited - I'm really happy," Goebel said following his 3-2 win over Alex Dronzek of Beachwood in the championship match.
He certainly had a right to be, having just put the final touches on an unbeaten season at 47-0. But Elmwood coach Dave Lee said Goebel's quiet, steady demeanor played a key role in making him the school's first state champion since Walt Borowicz in 2000.
"Nick is just so steady," Lee said. "He can win 'em big, or he can win 'em close. He just thinks he can win every match he wrestles."
He won the last match he wrestled Saturday, but it wasn't easy. Goebel wrestled a solid defensive match, scoring a reversal with 25 seconds left in the second period to take the lead, then holding Dronzek off to win the title.
Goebel's teammate, Alex Betts, didn't mask his emotions. Unfortunately, the emotions were disappointment and dejection after he lost his 145-pound title match to Chris Burns of Troy Christian.
"I keep thinking about what might have happened if I had wrestled this well as a junior," Betts said, fighting back tears. "I wish I had one more year."
After a scoreless first period, Betts gave up a reversal early in the second to fall behind 2-0. Burns road the Royals standout the rest of the second, then kept Betts on the mat in the third to claim the 2-0 victory.
"He's the only kid I had trouble getting out from under all year," said Betts, who finished his senior season with a 47-4 mark. "He took away my legs, he took away my wrists. He kept taking away my posts from me."
A third local wrestler, Patrick Henry's Alex Lopez, kept his emotions in check following his 125-pound bout with Monroeville's Logan Stieber, considered one of the best wrestlers in the country. Stieber already had won two state titles before Saturday night and had won 124 consecutive matches entering his battle with Lopez.
Stieber, who posted a technical fall over Lopez in the district final last weekend, won last night's bout by a 16-1 count.
"[The plan] was the same as last week: come out and take it to him," Lopez said. "But it was the same old Logan Stieber out there. He's a solid wrestler who knows what he's doing.
"To be honest, I wish I knew his secret. I think everybody in that gym wants to know what his secret is."
The junior, now 45-4, said he'll use the emotion of his second-place finish as fuel for next season.
"I'm happy with what happened, but I'm not satisfied," Lopez said. "I still want to get to the number one spot on that podium."
Another area wrestler who advanced to the finals was Ben Kuzma of Hopewell-Loudon at 135. Kuzma lost 7-1 to Tyler Powers of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy to finish his senior season with a 32-2 record.
Three other local wrestlers received All-Ohio recognition by finishing in the top eight in their weight class.
Jonny Tolson of Delta placed third at 112, posting a 2-0 decision over Seth Powers of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy to finish his senior season 49-7.
Two other Northwest Ohio Athletic League wrestlers also advanced to the podium as Liberty Center's Jake Elling (160) and Swanton's Mimmo Lytle (285) both took eighth place in their respective weight classes.
Other area wrestlers who reached the medal stand were Edgerton's Joshua Goebel, who placed sixth at 140; Chad Sonnenberg of Van Buren, who took seventh at 140; Tiffin Calvert's Kyle Kwiat, who finished third at 160; J.J. Hrabak of Fostoria St. Wendelin, who placed sixth at 171, and Tinora's Robert Blake, who finished eighth at 189.
Troy Christian won its third consecutive team title with 113 points, one more than second-place Monroeville. Elmwood finished sixth with 46 points.
Contact John Wagner at:
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