COLUMBUS -- Delta's Tyler Fahrer always expected he'd wrestle for a state title. He just didn't think it would come this quickly into his career.
The sophomore followed the lead of senior teammate Luke Kern and won his semifinal bout Friday evening in the Division III tournament at Value City Arena. Fahrer (145) and Kern (138) will compete for championships Saturday evening, and fellow Panthers Kyle Keller (106) and Jared Mattin (152) will look to rebound from semifinal losses and finish third. With just four wrestlers at the tournament, Delta sits in third place with 63 points. Apple Creek Waynedale (92) is expected to capture the title, but the Panthers might be able to sneak past Troy Christian (71.5) to finish second.
PHOTO GALLERY: State Wrestling Tournament
- Division I: Clay's Gray 1 win away from crown
- Division II: 2 Indians to vie for titles
Two other grapplers from the Northwest Ohio Athletic League will join Fahrer and Kern in the finals. Archbold's Jordan Cowell, the winningest wrestler in Ohio history, will look to add a state title to his resume, while Swanton's Mimmo Lytle (285) will try to defend his crown from last year. Fahrer is the only non-senior D-III finalist from the area.
"I knew I was going to get here, but I had no idea I was going to be here already," Fahrer said. "I'm ready to go. I'm shooting for my dreams."
Losing semifinal bouts were Woodmore's Evan Ulinski (106), who trailed 12-0 before being pinned by Dayton Miami Valley School's Matthew Kolodzik; Elmwood's Dexter Lee (113), who allowed a series of takedowns in a 10-4 setback to Ashland Mapleton's Zack Durbin; North Baltimore's Dalton Ishmael, who lost for the first time this year when Rootstown's Garrett Linton pinned him in the first period; and Liberty Center's Zach Niner (132) and Justin Gillen (285). Niner fell 3-2 to defending champion Jacob Danishek of Dayton Christian, and Gillen was shut out, 3-0, by Huron's Nino Majoy.
There were no surprises for Fahrer in his match against Bluffton's Zach Wilson, as the two tangled a year ago in the state tournament with Fahrer losing in overtime. Fahrer (43-4) won the rematch 10-7 and moves on to face Troy Christian's Jordan Marshall (23-0).
"[Wilson] and I are really close in technique and in style," Fahrer said. "It was going to come down to who could go six minutes and who wanted it more."
Kern (43-1) needed three minutes, 10 seconds to pin Shadyside's Ian Baker and will now meet up with projected champion Zane Nelson of Waynedale.
"I was planning to go six minutes, and the opportunity came before that," Kern said.
In the other semifinal matches involving a Delta wrestler, Keller dropped a 10-5 decision to Troy Christian's Jarred Ganger and Mattin was upended, 8-1, by Waynedale's Brenden Stanley. Keller said the tempo of his match slowed after he was nailed with a four-point move in the second period.
"He started stalling and staying away from my big moves I was trying to throw," Keller said.
Archbold's Cowell, who will face Stanley on Saturday, scored a takedown and two near-fall points with a minute remaining to tie his match with Shadyside's Alex Quinn. Cowell finalized his comeback with another takedown and prevailed 8-7. Cowell (236-21 in his career) said he'll be happy regardless of the outcome of his championship bout.
"It feels nice to know I'm guaranteed at least second no matter what I do in the finals," he said. "It doesn't matter because if you get first or second you're pretty good."
Lytle (43-1) hopes to improve to 5-0 in his career against Huron's Majoy. Lytle, who won 8-0 over Columbus Bishop Ready's Patrik Garren, knows what to expect against his rival.
"And he knows what I'm going to do," Lytle said. "It's going to be a good match."
Guaranteed to finish between third and sixth are Lakota's Ben Timmons (126), Fostoria's Tony Reynolds, and Genoa's Jake Sheehy (182). Competing for seventh will be Archbold's Drew Coffey (106) and Austin Ripke (160), and Elmwood's Dustin Ferguson (120) and Jake Baker (220).
Baker, who is battling a shoulder sprain, lost by default in his consolation quarterfinal match.