WILMINGTON — After two years of coming oh, so close, 2018 is the year for senior Zane Nelson as he placed fourth at the Division II District wrestling tournament Saturday at Wilmington High School to realize his long-held dream of qualifying to the State tournament.
Nelson, a State-alternate the past two seasons, was able to get the victories he needed to reach the pinnacle of wrestling in Ohio, ‘The Show’ as it is known by many.
Nelson began his run to the State with a pin of Noah Yoesting of Bellefontaine in 2:45.
In his next match, Nelson lost a tough 2-1 decision to Logan Iams of Ross.
That result placed Nelson in the second consolation round.
In that match, Nelson took a 9-1 major decision over Greg Campbell of Ponitz Career Technology Center.
In the third consolation round match, Nelson posted a 10-2 major decision over Carston King of Oakwood.
In the consolation semifinals, the match he had to win to get up into the match for third and fourth place, Nelson captured an 11-4 decision over Keegan Rawlins of McClain.
Nelson lost a 3-1 decision to Yima Myamor of Wyoming to place fourth.
Nelson (now 42-9) will meet senior Sandro Ramirez of Wauseon in the first round match at the State Thursday. Ramirez enters the State with a record of 48-4.
“It’s crazy to think that for two years in a row I was a (State) alternate,” Nelson said. “It’s unbelievable that this year I’m going (to State). It’s like a dream come true.”
Nelson spoke about his District run to the State.
“I won my first match,” Nelson said. “In my second match, I lost in the last 10 seconds. The kid took me down, beat me 2-1.
“I bounced back in the consos,” Nelson said. “In my go-to (State) match, I wrestled Keegan Rawlins of Greenfield (McClain). I beat him, 11-4.
“Then, in my placement match for third and fourth, and I lost 3-1 to Myamor of Wyoming,” Nelson said.
“I would like to thank Coach Reid,” Nelson said. “He’s always been there for me, always pushing me. We had one goal, which was making it to the State and now I’m going.
“My goal for the year was to make it to State,” Nelson said. “Now, my goal is to at least get on the podium. I would be happy with any place at State.”
Nelson is the son of Sharon Cloud and Anthony Nelson.
That final win by Nelson at the District was the 150th of his fine Blue Lion career.
“That was a big accomplishment,” Reid said. “When he qualified to State, that was win number 150.
“Zane wrestled a great tournament,” Reid said. “Zane always seems to have to battle back through the consolation rounds. He had a pretty good path to make it to the semifinals and even the finals, we thought.
“He won his first match in dominating fashion,” Reid said. “In his second match, we’re wrestling pretty well. We’re up 1-0 with a few seconds left to a kid from Hamilton Ross that we thought we were going to beat, for sure. He had lost to some opponents that we had beaten.
“The kid caught us in a headlock and ended up taking us down with a merkle and scored two points and dropped us into the consolations,” Reid said. “We knew we would have to battle back. But, Zane’s been in that situation before, where he’s had to wrestle back through.
“We’re hoping Zane wins some matches at State and places in the top eight,” Reid said.
Four other wrestlers competed for the Blue Lions at this year’s District tournament.
At 138 pounds, sophomore Will Baughn began the District with a match against Ben Sherrill of Bellbrook. Sherrill won that match by pin in 1:06.
In the first round of consolation matches, Baughn faced, and pinned, Dalton Mathews of Valley View in 1:27.
Baughn had his season come to an end in the second consolation round, getting pinned by Brice Briggs of Goshen in 56 seconds.
Baughn ends the 2017-18 season with a record of 25-15.
At 170 pounds, senior Chris Conger faced off against Dawon Smith of Meadowdale in the opening round of the District.
Conger won this match by pin in 37 seconds.
Conger then made it two pins in a row, this one in 2:22 over Jamonte Crossty of Mt. Healthy.
This placed Conger in the semifinals where he faced defending State champion Rocky Jordan of Graham.
Jordan won by pin in 14 seconds.
Conger needed a win in the next round, the consolation semifinals, to place him in the match for third and fourth place.
Unfortunately, Conger lost a heartbreaking 16-14 overtime decision to Blake Coy of Carroll.
In the match for fifth and sixth place, Conger defeated Dawson Miller of Bellefontaine, 9-4.
Conger ends the season with an overall match record of 39-10.
“Chris went 3-2 at the District,” Reid said. “He placed fifth to become a State alternate. Last year he placed sixth at the District. He came up just short. He was pinned by Rocky Jordan, the No. 2 wrestler in the nation. He still has a chance to wrestle at State by being an alternate. We’re fortunate for that.
“Chris left everything he had on the mat,” Reid said. “He didn’t get to practice last week because of an injury.
“He looked really good,” Reid said. “He won his first two matches in dominating fashion, pinning both opponents. He is a State alternate. He may or may not get to wrestle at State, but, if not, he ends his career with a win. Not many wrestlers can say that. Either you’re a State champion, or you lose at some point. He finishes his career with 149 wins.”
Sophomore Collier Brown made his District debut at 182 pounds.
Brown lost by pin to Daniel Greiner of Batavia in 3:45.
Brown lost his next match by 15-0 technical fall to Sam Matthews of Springfield Shawnee.
Brown ends the 2017-18 season with a record of 18-18.
“He wrestled his first match really tough,” Reid said. “It was scoreless after the first period. In the second period, we made it nearly to the end. The kid ended up catching us and turning us.
“For a sophomore, wrestling for the first time at the District, I thought he wrestled pretty solid,” Reid said. “That experience is going to help him in the future, just like it will help Will.”
Junior Colton McNichols, somewhat undersized at heavyweight, nevertheless battled the bigger contestants at the District.
In his first match, McNichols was pinned by Seth Bowman of Eaton in 2:37.
In the first consolation round, McNichols suffered a pin by Nate Glossip of Franklin in 2:21.
McNichols ends his junior season with a record of 12-10.
“He came to us late in the season,” Reid said of McNichols. “Adrian Butterbaugh was our starter at heavyweight. Adrian got hurt and Colton stepped in. He won the league title and qualified to the District.
“He had both of his opponents pinned, he just doesn’t really have the weight to go with it,” Reid said. “He didn’t adjust his hips well, so they kind of rolled through. He’s a light-heavyweight and you could see that in both of his matches. He’s a junior, so he comes back and we’re excited about that.”
Washington’s last place-winner at State was two-time State champion Riley Shaw in 2012.