COLUMBUS — Heavyweight title contender Marquise Moore corrected himself after informing a reporter he has wrestled for only two seasons.
The answer is three. Sort of. “My freshman year I quit,” the Whitmer senior said. “I hated it so badly.”
A dogged recruiting pitch by his coach that centered on convincing the football-minded Moore that wrestling in the winter would hone his gridiron skills caused the athletic big man to reconsider.
His thoughts on the sport now? “Love it,” Moore said.
The future University of Toledo defensive lineman continued his unblemished season Thursday, moving one step closer to an improbable state title with a 3-1 overtime decision against Massillon Perry’s Stefano Millin.
Moore (34-0), among seven unbeatens in Division I, displayed uncanny lower body leg strength in blasting the 6-foot-4 Millin off of the mat for the winning takedown with five seconds left in the extra period.
As Moore processed from the warmup area on to the floor at the Schottenstein Center, he passed by a list featuring multi-time champions in state history. One name resonated more than others: Luke Fickell.
Learning the former Ohio State standout defensive lineman was a three-time winner in the early 1990s further validated Moore’s decision to return to a sport he quit while toiling on the junior varsity squad at Bowsher.
“The passion came with just building him up mentally in how much this will help him,” Whitmer coach Josh Adams said. “Every minute that goes by that he’s wrestling, he’s realizing how much the two go together.”
Moore, who did not advance from sectionals a year ago, said he would “try to make myself a state champion.” He will oppose Dublin Scioto’s Yoshi Akutsu (38-5) in a quarterfinal today, with a guaranteed top-six finish going to the winner.
Two other undefeated heavyweights — Hilliard Davidson’s Travis Gusan and Harrison’s Truman Gutapfel — are on the opposite side of the bracket.
Clay, which went 3-3 in the round, ranks sixth in D-I with eight points. Advancing to the quarterfinals were Richie Screptock (120), Damon Dominique (152), and Nick Stencel (160). A seventh Eagle, 182-pound Edward Silva, did not compete after tearing his meniscus last week at districts.
Screptock, who finished seventh as a freshman last year, scored three near fall points in the third period to punctuate a 5-0 win over Uniontown Lake’s Alec Cotton.
“I feel a lot more prepared,” Screptock (49-4) said of his second time here. “I’m trained better, I’m a lot more experienced, and I just feel better.”
Also advancing in D-I were the Fremont Ross duo of Trey Grine (145) and Peyton Geary (152), and Perrysburg’s J.P Newton (152).
Anthony Wayne’s Christian Yates, who earned an unexpected invitation at 120 after a competitor scratched, was tied 3-3 with two-time state champion Brandon Thompson of Solon before being pinned early in the second period.
Two area D-II wrestlers couldn’t compete — Bryan’s Wes Walter (152) because of a torn MCL and Central Catholic’s Nate Hagan (126) after he failed skin check. Hagan, a sophomore district champ, finished seventh at state a year ago.
“Not making skin check, that’s hard for anybody,” said Central Catholic’s Alex Mossing, who advanced with a second-period fall. “You don’t want to see somebody who deserves to be down here not wrestle because of skin.”
Mossing, a two-time place winner, is considered by many to be the favorite at 138.
Also advancing were Wauseon’s three qualifiers — Wade Hodges (126), Aaron Schuette (160), and defending runner-up Zane Krall (220) — and three of Oak Harbor’s four qualifiers: Jared Chambers (152), Luke Cramer (170), and T.J. Lawrence (285). Napoleon’s Seth Beard (106) and Bryan’s Shelden Struble (145) also won.
Wauseon and Oak Harbor, both with 10 points, are tied with Steubenville in seventh. Cramer, a returning place winner, is a popular pick to win.
“I’ve proved through the whole year, through my progress and training, I’m capable of being the No. 1 person,” said Cramer, a 12-0 winner over Eaton’s Tyler Claybaker.
Wauseon finished seventh last year after its three qualifiers earned top-eight finishes. “Last year we still had room to improve,” said Krall, who pinned St. Paris Graham’s Anthony Welty in 3 minutes, 25 seconds. “I think we can improve on that even more.”
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.