COLUMBUS — If someone had handicapped the probability of success for the six area wrestlers competing in the Division II state semifinals, the forecast would have called for as many as five wins.
Napoleon’s Seth Beard, representing the greatest obstacle to perfection, knew the majority of people Friday were counting him out.
"But I knew I had a shot," he said.
The headstrong freshman upset projected 106-pound champion Eli Stickley of national-power St. Paris Graham to jump start a blistering run by northwest Ohio. By the time the lights went down at Schottenstein Center, the area contingent had planted seeds for what might be a memorable day today, pushing all six competitors into the finals.
Following Beard on the elevated stage will be Central Catholic’s Alex Mossing (138), Bryan’s Shelden Struble (145), Wauseon’s Aaron Schuette (160) and Zane Krall (220), and Oak Harbor’s Luke Cramer (170).
Wauseon, which placed all three of its qualifiers, ranks fifth with 52 team points. Oak Harbor is seventh with 37 points.
PHOTO GALLERY: State wrestling championships Day 2
Beard, a runner-up a year ago at the junior high state tournament, controlled Stickley on top for the entire second period before recording three near-fall points off of a tilt with 10 seconds to go. Beard (44-4) held on to win 4-2, turning away a competitor who suffered only his third loss against one of the nation’s most daunting schedules.
"I really wanted to wrestle a Graham kid," said Beard, who will now face Uhrichsville Claymont freshman Tyler Warner (39-5) in hopes of becoming Napoleon’s first state champion. "A lot of people are probably shocked I beat him."
Mossing, the projected champion at 138, was impressive in his domination of Hamilton Ross’ Cordell Byrd, running up a 15-2 lead before recording a fall 32 seconds into the third period. Mossing, a junior who will earn state placement for a third year, will square off against a familiar foe, Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s Ryan Skonieczny. The two have battled three times in the past two seasons, with Mossing prevailing every time by a point or two.
"This is definitely the best I’ve wrestled this season," Mossing (37-4) said. "I’m starting to peak right now."
Bryan’s Struble dealt Hamilton Ross’ Joseph Jones his second defeat of the year, winning 6-4. Struble (52-2) will face Warren Howland’s Gabe Stark (42-3).
Wauseon, for the second straight year, has two finalists — and each will face someone who has yet to lose. Schuette, making his first appearance at state, survived a scare late when he was thrown to his back by Perry’s Alec Schenk. Time expired, though, and the Wauseon junior celebrated a 4-2 decision.
Moments later, Schuette’s teammate, Zane Krall secured a return trip to the finals, cruising to an 11-0 victory over Sandusky Perkins freshman Kordell Chaney. Krall (41-3) will now try to disrupt the unbeaten year being had by Steubenville’s Greg Moray (37-0).
"I’m not giving myself the whole losing option this time," said Krall, who was on the wrong end of a 6-1 decision in last year’s final. "I don’t think that’s going to be me again."
Schuette (37-6) will encounter a near impossible challenge in the form of Bo Jordan. A three-time state champion, Jordan has not lost a match since his freshman year and is considered by many to be the top high school wrestler in the nation regardless of weight. He pinned Schuette last year in about 30 seconds.
"The first 15 seconds were OK," Schuette said. "The next 15 weren’t."
Oak Harbor’s Cramer, figured by many to win the title, outlasted Graham’s Lane Thomas, 6-1. Cramer, like his older brother Jake, jumped 30 pounds between his senior and junior seasons. Unlike his brother, Luke hopes to avoid ending his career with a runner-up state finish.
"Hopefully I can jump up one on him," Luke said of Jake, a nationally-ranked wrestler at Tiffin University. "I’m always trying to beat my brother in anything."
Standing between Cramer (41-5) and a title is Clarksville Clinton-Massie three-time state place winner Wyatt Running (40-4).
Alive in the consolation bracket are: Wauseon’s Wade Hodges (126), Oak Harbor’s Jared Chambers (152) and T.J. Lawrence (285), and Eastwood’s Randy Caris (170). Lawrence will contend for seventh place, while the others can finish as high as third.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.