Three wrestlers will make their State tournament debut Thursday at the 79th annual tournament in Columbus.
Division II wrestling gets underway Thursday at 4:10 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Miami Trace High School has two wrestlers going to State and Washington High School has one.
For the Panthers, sophomore Coby Hughes (126) and junior Jared Fenner (195) and, for the Blue Lions, junior Trevor Hicks (285) will be a part of the ‘Big Show’.
Washington also has two State alternates: senior Mason McCane (182) and sophomore Zane Nelson (132). They both placed fifth at the Wilmington District meet.
Hicks is the son of Dinah Hicks and Roger Hicks.
He enters the State tournament with a record of 40-9.
His first opponent at the State tournament will be senior Michael Furbee of St. Clairsville (47-1).
Hicks had success in the eighth grade when he won the SCOL at 172 pounds.
Hicks won the SCOL title and Sectional title this year.
He also won the Franklin Invitational.
As a sophomore, Hicks was runner-up at the league meet. He placed fourth at the Sectional in 2015, qualifying to the District meet.
As a freshman, Hicks earned runner-up status at a meet at Springfield Greenon.
Hicks’ favorite wrestler is Riley Shaw, a two-time State champion at heavyweight for the Blue Lions. Shaw is currently a senior at Cleveland State and is a member of the Vikings’ wrestling team.
In his pre-match routine, Hicks likes to hydrate and then drill with any of his practice partners.
“I focus on who I’m wrestling,” Hicks said. “I focus on what moves I’m going to hit and go in there ready to go.”
Workout partners for Hicks are: Mason McCane, Steven Willis, Colton McNichols, Marlin Ellis, Ryan Wells and sometimes, former Blue Lion Seth Haines.
“I’d like to thank my family for all the support they’ve given me,” Hicks said. “Especially my mom, for everything she’s done for me. I’d like to thank my coaches and practice partners for pushing me to get to where I am today.”
What goals does Hicks have for the State tournament?
“I want to go in there and wrestle the hardest I can,” Hicks said. “I don’t want to let my nerves get the best of me, especially being in a big arena like that. I want to wrestle hard and see if some good results come out.”
Head coach Louis Reid spoke about Hicks’ first-round opponent.
“He’s a tough kid,” Reid said of Furbee. “It was the best possible first-round draw we could get. We match up with him. I think Trevor will have a chance to pull the upset.
“When you get to the State meet, it doesn’t matter where you place,” Reid said. “Each week, as you advance through the tournament, your record is essentially 0-0.
“Last year, Mason got fourth place and he knocked off a guy from Steubenville who took first place,” Reid said. “I feel Trevor is in the same boat. We’ve got a good match-up and we’re going to take advantage of it. If he wrestles smart, he can pick up the win. If he wins that first match, he’ll be set up in great position to place.
“If you win your first match, you only have to win one more to place,” Reid said. “If you lose (the first match), you have to win two. It makes it a little tougher. Once you get to State, everyone is a good wrestler.
“I’m really happy Trevor made it,” Reid said. “He’s had a very good season. Last year was his first time in the lineup and he made it to the District meet. After the District was over, he said, ‘I’m going to make it to State next year.’ And he did.”
Panther junior Jared Fenner is making his State debut at 195 pounds.
Fenner is the son of Korrie Fenner and Dan Fenner.
Fenner (40-10 entering the tournament) will face junior Zach Baker (45-5) of Marengo Highland (Morrow County) in the first match of the Division II State tournament.
Fenner won the SCOL, the Beavercreek Invitational and the McDonald’s Invitational. He was second at Defiance and second at the Sectional. Fenner placed fourth at the Wilmington District meet.
“My favorite wrestler is my brother, Tyler Fraley,” Fenner said. “He’s the one who really got me started in wrestling.”
His favorite wrestling memory was watching his brother compete at the junior high State tournament.
In order to get ready for a match, Fenner said he paces around a lot and jumps around a lot to stay loose.
Fenner’s workout partners are: Colin Wolffe, Dalton Bartley, Matthew Hottinger and Austin Lovett.
“I’d like to thank my mom,” Fenner said. “I’d like to thank my grandpa (Charles Fraley). I’d like to thank my dad and my brothers and sisters. I’d like to thank my teammates, my step-dad, Derick Bobbitt.”
What about goals and thoughts on the State tournament?
“I’d like to place at State, at least,” Fenner said. “I want to make it to State next year and place in the top four.”
Coby Hughes is the son of Jennifer and Mark Hughes.
Hughes, a sophomore, is making his State debut at 126 pounds with a record of 44-5.
His first-round opponent will be senior Charlie Nash of Norwalk (40-6).
Some highlights of Hughes’ sophomore season were winning the McDonald’s tournament, as well as winning the SCOL title and the Sectional tournament.
He was runner-up at the Tri-State Border War and the Beavercreek Classic.
Hughes said that his favorite memory as it relates to wrestling is winning the Sectional championship.
During his pre-match routine, Hughes said that he tries to get his confidence level up.
“I jog and jump around and just get loose,” Hughes said.
His workout partners are Gavin Moore, coach Jacob Garringer and head coach Ben Fondale.
“I’d like to thank my coaches and parents,” Hughes said.
Hughes said that his goal for this State tournament is to place on the podium (top eight).
Hughes has a career record of 74-23.
“I’m pretty sure the kids know that all the coaches are proud of them,” Fondale said. “There are a lot of hard workers in our room and those two are a part of that hard-working group.
“I’m just glad they get to represent Miami Trace and their work ethic and their teammates’ work ethic throughout the year.
“Expectations are different for every kid at State every year,” Fondale said. “The goals for both of these guys are to make it onto the podium.
“The trick is to get past that first match or two,” Fondale said. “It’s their first time at State. Being in that big arena, 10 mats on the floor. How are they going to take that first match? And then, go from there.
“The goal is to get that first match behind us and make a good showing this year,” Fondale said. “Then, next year, we can improve even more. With them being underclassmen, there is still a lot of work we can do to improve on whatever performance we have at the State.
“Hopefully, next year, they can bring some of their teammates (to State),” Fondale said. “That’s the overall goal; to have these two qualify and place next year and bring a couple of teammates with them.”
Mason McCane, the son of Tim and Beth McCane, has a career record of 165-34.
Some highlights from this season for McCane include: winning the Marion County Local Invitational; being runner-up at Franklin Invitational; winning the SCOL; being Sectional runner-up; 5th at District (State alternate).
His favorite wrestler is Riley Shaw.
His favorite memory from wrestling was picking up his 150th career victory.
McCane’s pre-match routine includes hydrating and warming up with Trevor Hicks.
McCane’s work out partners this season are: Trevor Hicks, Steven Willis, Ryan Wells and Louis Reid.
“Wrestling is, in my mind, one of the greatest sports known to man,” McCane said. “It was the first sport. It’s just different from all the other sports. The mental aspects, the physical aspects; it takes a toll on your body. They say wrestling for one year is like (competing) four or five years in another sport.
“Physically, it’s rigorous on your body,” McCane said. “Mentally, you just want to break down when you go home at night.
“Wrestling has given me a lot of great memories,” McCane said. “It’s been my greatest high school experience.”
“It was really heartbreaking for Mason,” Reid said. “Mason has beaten a lot of kids who are going to be at the State tournament. It comes down to, he lost two close matches (at the District). We still have a chance to get in.”
Reid explained what happens when you are a State alternate.
“He’ll be right there at the weigh-ins (at State),” Reid said. “When their weight class is called, they’re waiting; they’re standing by. If someone from your District is overweight, or has a skin infection, or is unable to compete, (the alternate) gets in. It happens each and every year at State.
“The key was, Mason bounced back,” Reid said. “That shows how resilient he is. He beat another really good kid. Quality-wise, 182 at the District had a lot of really good kids. So, we knew somebody good from that weight class was not going to make it to State. It just happened to be Mason.”
Zane Nelson is the son of Sharron Hakes and Anthony Nelson.
Nelson has a career record of 54-26.
Nelson competed in the Junior High State tournament in the eighth grade at 98 pounds.
“I went two and out then,” Nelson said.
Nelson was second at the SCOL and placed third at the Sectional.
Nelson said his favorite wrestler is former Blue Lion State-qualifier, Shawn Murphy.
“He always pushed us in the room last year and made us better,” Nelson said.
Nelson said his favorite wrestling memory was making it to the Regional finals of the State dual meet team tournament.
When asked about his pre-match preparation, Nelson said, “I just pace back and forth, thinking about my match, what I’m going to do.”
Nelson’s workout partners this year are Tre Thomas and Chris Conger.
“I want to thank Coach Reid,” Nelson said. “Even though I have two more years to make myself better.
“I just get pumped for big matches,” Nelson said. “My teammates push me to my limits. We all get along with each other. That’s a big thing.”
“Zane progressed really well,” Reid said. “As a freshman, he was on a tear. Unfortunately, an injury kept him from wrestling at the Sectional. This year, at the beginning of the season, he was wrestling a lot of tough kids and was getting beat. His spirits were really down.
“We had to keep talking to him, telling him, ‘hey, you’re time is going to come,’” Reid said. “By the end of the season, he started beating some of those good kids. That gave him a little bit of momentum.
“He finished second at the league,” Reid said. “That was a big confidence builder. Then, at the Sectionals, he wrestled really, really tough. He had to beat a pretty good Clinton-Massie kid to get in.
“He lost his first match at the District and was really down,” Reid said. “I told him that Shawn Murphy lost one of his first matches at the District his senior year. Then he rolled through and made it to State. Anything can happen.
“Zane got hot,” Reid said. “He made it to the consolation semifinal match to go to State. He was in the match the entire time. The kid out-wrestled him just a bit and did some things better than we did.
“He had another tough kid, a senior who was supposed to make it to State and who had beaten some really good kids,” Reid said. “Zane was very patient in that match and ended up pinning him. That’s how we got to where we are right now.”
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1