COLUMBUS — The second day of the 80th annual State individual wrestling tournament got underway at 10 a.m. Friday morning.
A pair of local seniors were looking to win their first match of the day after going 1-0 here Thursday.
A win by either Trevor Hicks of Washington or Jared Fenner of Miami Trace in the championship quarterfinals would assure them of placing at least eighth on the coveted State podium (which recognizes the top eight in each weight class).
Division II wrestling began at 10:35 a.m.
The matches went off simultaneously, with Fenner on mat 7 and Hicks opposite him on mat 8.
Hicks’ opponent was senior Mason Giordano of Canfield (35-8). Hicks came into the match with a record of 51-2.
It was a tough slog for Hicks, who suffered a 4-1 setback.
That put him in the second round of consolation matches that began at 12:50 p.m. Hicks would take on senior Noah Meeker of Elida.
Meeker had lost his first match, but came back with a pin of Hillsboro sophomore Lane Cluff in 59 seconds. Cluff ended his season with a record of 35-11.
For Fenner, his match pitted him against senior Tony Banister of Wauseon. He advanced to the championship quarterfinals with a pin of senior Alex Eckles of Granville in 2:24.
Fenner won his match Thursday against sophomore Tyler Stein of Canfield by an 11-10 score.
Fenner found the going as tough as Hicks did as the two Fayette Countians battled concurrently on the mats in front of thousands of fans from all corners of Ohio.
Fenner lost to Banister, 4-0.
That setback dropped Fenner into the second round of consolation matches where he would meet senior Blake Bollon of New Philadelphia.
“I thought Jared wrestled really well,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “He just struggled a little to get off the bottom. We were only down 2-0 going into the third period.
“We had a game plan to score from the neutral position,” Fondale said. “Unfortunately, we just could quite get off the bottom. We tried to move on the bottom, but we just got caught. He kind of rode us until time ran out.
“We have one more match to win and then we’re a State placer,” Fondale said. “We’re confident going into the next one. Jared’s going to leave this one behind him and focus on everything that’s been working this whole year. He’s going to wrestle this next match like it’s his last match, which it will be if he’s not ready to wrestle.
“I’m confident he’s going to come out ready to wrestle,” Fondale said.
“He was just a real good kid,” Fenner said. “I feel like I could have beaten him if I’d gotten to my offense better; if I’d gotten off the bottom. I just have to go on to the next one, keep moving forward.”
“The (Wauseon) kid really didn’t do much,” Miami Trace coach Jacob Garringer said. “At the end of the first period, it was 0-0. In the second period, he got a reversal on us. At that point, we’re still in good position. If we get an escape there, it’s 2-1. We can get another escape, that’s what we’re thinking.
“Things didn’t work out,” Garringer said. “We’ll come back and we’ll place, we’ll win this next one. We’ve actually seen this (Wauseon) kid before. He wrestled Jerimiah Jones a couple of years ago at State. He beat Jerimiah, 1-0.”
When the afternoon came, it would be Coby Hughes’ turn to compete in a match that could either place him on the State podium Saturday night or end his junior season.
Hughes faced senior Chandler Golec of Uhrichsville Claymont, who had been dispatched in his previous match by two-time State champion Mitch Moore of St. Paris Graham by fall in 27 seconds.
Hughes won his match, 9-4. The win guarantees Hughes a spot on the State podium; at least eighth place. Hughes would wrestle later Friday evening and, win or lose, he would have one more match Saturday morning.
“I kept pushing; I never stopped,” Hughes said. “He stopped there towards the end and I caught him. He just tried to hit a dump and I countered it.
“This feels pretty good,” Hughes said. “Better than a normal win, that one was. This was a lot different. This will be the first time I’ve been on a State podium. I’ve been wrestling since I was three.”
Hughes is now 38-10 on the season.
Before long, it was Jared Fenner’s turn to face the music, so to speak. As a senior, it was a matter of winning his next match, or seeing his high school career come to an end.
Fenner stepped onto mat 6 to take on New Philadelphia senior Blake Bollon. One of these young men would see their careers end in the next several minutes.
It was Fenner getting the win by pin in just 47 seconds.
The win stamped Fenner’s ticket for a spot on the State podium. He will be at least eighth and could move up to as high as third place if he continues to win.
Fenner, now 47-9, would wrestle Byesville Meadowbrook junior Jud Ramage later Friday evening.
“This feels amazing,” Fenner said. “All of my hard work has paid off and finally, I’m going to be on the podium this year. I’m ecstatic.”
“He just went to what he’s been doing all year,” Miami Trace coach Jacob Garringer said. “He went to a front headlock to an ankle pick, locked up a cradle and put him on his back. Usually once you lock that up, there’s no getting out of it. (Bollon) fell into that front headlock…(Fenner) just told me, he said ‘the leg was sitting there’; he said, ‘oh, that’s a bad move.’ He got that leg and put him to his back and that was it.
“That was awesome for Jared,” Garringer said. “That could have been his last match ever. He went out; he didn’t want it to end and he stuck the kid, now we get to wrestle a couple more.”
“I’m very excited for Coby and Jared,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “All year, all their career’s have been working up to this point, to place at State. I’m glad they put all the extra time in, all the hard work in practice and it paid off. They’ve reached their goal. Anything after this point is just icing on the cake.”
And then there was one.
One more student-athlete from Fayette County, senior Trevor Hicks of Washington High School, was up soon after Fenner and the scenario was exactly the same.
Hicks faced a must-win match against senior Noah Meeker of Elida.
A win would guarantee Hicks a realization of his dream of stepping up onto the State podium before a full house Saturday night.
A loss would mark the end of a brilliant career for the Blue Lions.
With all the effort he could muster, Hicks battled the bigger Meeker for six draining minutes.
Unfortunately, it would be Hicks falling by a 3-0 score.
The level of emotion was palpable as Hicks, head coach Louis Reid and assistant coach Marlin Ellis entered the media room.
Just down the hall, another senior who just had his career come to an end could simply not contain his emotion and disappointment.
“Trevor’s put so much work into his career,” Reid said. “There’s so much blood, sweat and tears in wrestling. Either you’re going to finish your season with a win or you’ll finish your season with a loss and, it’s tough.
“Wrestling teaches so many great lessons,” Reid said. “And Trevor will take a lot of those with him. He’s worked extremely hard to get here. A lot of kids in Ohio never reach this point; they never make it to the State tournament, let alone come within one match of placing.
“Trevor has nothing to hang his head about,” Reid said. “He got his 150th career win last night. He’s sixth all-time in Blue Lion history in wins. He made it back to the State tournament again this year. He’s a two-time State qualifier and a two-time league champ.”
Hicks ends the 2016-17 season with a record of 51-4.
“He’s going to Robert Morris to play football,” Reid said. “Trevor is a great kid and it’s been an honor to coach him. He’s one of those kids, he showed up and worked hard every day. I’m really proud of Trevor and really glad I got to coach him.
“We had a goal to place, but, that’s alright,” Reid said. “Trevor is going to go on to bigger and better things. He’s going to be very successful later on.”
“We were pushing the pace and just had an unfortunate result,” Washington coach Marlin Ellis said. “Trevor did everything he could, but, sometimes things don’t come up in your favor. It happens. We’re not going to hang our head.
“For Trevor, this is not the end, but it’s the beginning of something bigger,” Ellis said. “I’m proud of him and honored to coach him. For our program, moving forward, Trevor is going to be the standard for how hard guys work.”
“It was definitely disappointing, not getting the goal I wanted,” Hicks said. “I’m happy I was able to come back here again. It was definitely a really good experience. Yeah, it’s really disappointing and stuff, but, not many people can say they made it to the State tournament.
“He was a big, strong kid,” Hicks said. “I worked the offense I could on him. It just wasn’t easy to take him down.” Hicks did take Meeker down once, but they were called out of bounds.
“The love and support in Washington Court House is phenomenal,” Hicks said. “Especially at school, all the teachers and administrators and stuff.
“I definitely have a wonderful mother,” Hicks said. “She’s helped me throughout everything. I can’t thank her enough. And, all the coaches; Coach Reid, Coach Ellis and Coach Wells helped push me to the wrestler I am today and to the road to glory.”
Editor’s note: We would like to thank Washington High School graduate Trevor Patton for providing the photo of Trevor Hicks that appeared in Friday’s Record-Herald.
He did not receive proper credit in the paper for that photo, so, we would like to thank Trevor, once again, for that photo.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1