COLUMBUS — There were three underclassmen from Fayette County competing for the first time at the 79th annual State wrestling tournament Thursday at The Ohio State University.
Washington High School junior Trevor Hicks and Miami Trace junior Jared Fenner and sophomore Coby Hughes were among the elite wrestlers in Ohio at the ‘Big Show’.
Hughes faced senior Charlie Nash of Norwalk in a 126-pound match on Mat No. 6.
The match ended quickly for Hughes as he was pinned at :43.
“Coby took a shot and the kid defended it,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “(Nash) caught him in a cradle and got the pin.
“Being a young guy, your first time at the State, sometimes your nerves can get the best of you,” Fondale said. “What he needs to do now, now that that first match is out of the way, hopefully some of the nerves will leave, too.”
Hughes had to put that match out of his mind and take the next few hours until the first round of consolation matches later Thursday evening.
A little while later, it was time for Fenner to make his State tournament debut.
Fenner (40-10) faced off against junior Zach Baker (45-5) of Marengo Highland.
Baker won this match, 9-4.
At the end of the first period, the match was tied, 4-4.
There was no scoring during the next two minute interval.
In the third period, Baker scored five points to take the 9-4 win.
Baker had two takedowns in the first period, while Fenner escaped twice to make it 4-2.
The match was halted for a few moments for a blood timeout for Baker.
The period ended with the match tied, 4-4.
In the third period, there were stalling calls that went against Fenner.
“I came out pretty nervous,” Fenner said. “Once I got the first couple of minutes out of the way, I started to loosen up a bit, I started wrestling a little better.”
No sooner had that match ended than Washington High School junior Trevor Hicks stepped onto a State mat for the first time.
Hicks (40-9) went up against senior Michael Furbee (47-1) of St. Clairsville.
Furbee won this match by pin at 3:09 in the second period.
Thursday evening, during the first round of consolations, Coby Hughes was the first of three Fayette County wrestlers to hit the mats.
At this juncture, these competitors had to get the win, or their season was over.
Hughes faced junior Mitchell Skleres, a junior from Mentor Lake Catholic who entered the tournament with a record of 19-6.
Hughes fared much better in this match, however, he fell by a final 5-4 decision.
Hughes ends the season with a record of 44-7.
“Coby came back after taking a tough loss in his first match of the State tournament,” head coach Ben Fondale said. “He came back and wrestled well.
“He got the first takedown,” Fondale said. “Just like so many matches here, it was decided late by just a couple of points.
“We’re excited for Coby,” Fondale said. “We’re proud of him.”
“I just couldn’t finish my takedowns,” Hughes said. “That was about it.
“The State tournament, it’s a different atmosphere,” Hughes said. “It’s a lot harder than you think. It just didn’t go the way I wanted it.”
By the time Hughes’ match was over, it was nearly time for Washington junior heavyweight Trevor Hicks to take on senior Sean Williams of Mansfield Madison Comprehensive. Williams entered the State meet with a record of 31-8.
Hicks was going up against a competitor with a distinct weight advantage.
In the end, Hicks was pinned ending his season with a record of 40-11.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way Trevor wrestled,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “There are just a few areas we need to improve in. We know we need to improve from the bottom. We know we need to improve a little bit from the neutral (position).
“The first time you get up here, it can almost be overwhelming,” Reid said. “In the first match, his nerves got to him a little bit. We were in the match; we were scoreless after the first period against a kid who only had one loss. In the second period, he didn’t get away. Trevor’s a light-heavyweight. The more he has to deal with that weight, the more of a problem it becomes. He ended up getting turned and pinned.
“In the second match, the kid was up, 1-0,” Reid said. “We were in on some great shots. We pushed the pressure; we pushed the action. The kid was bigger and he ended up turning us and that ended up being the difference in the match.
“In the off-season, Trevor will be looking to put a little more weight on,” Reid said. “He needs to continue to get stronger and that will help him out for next season.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for any wrestler to make it up here,” Reid said. “I know he’s frustrated, but, I know he’s going to work hard. He knows what he needs to do and I think we’ll get him back here next year.”
“This was definitely a good experience,” Hicks said. “I’ll never forget this moment. I have to work hard in the off-season and get stronger and more technically sound. I want to get back here again next year.”
At the same time Hicks was on the mat, Miami Trace junior 195-pounder Jared Fenner took on his second opponent of the tournament, junior Abdullah Silmi of Norwalk (who entered the tournament with a record of 14-6).
Fenner battled strong, but, in the end, he lost a 9-2 decision.
Fenner’s season ends with a record of 40-12.
“We were pressing the action in the first period,” Miami Trace assistant coach Jacob Garringer said of Fenner’s match against Silmi. “We took a couple of shots, but didn’t get any points out of it.
“In the second period, we get in on a shot again,” Garringer said. “We’re still pressing all the action. We went to hit a dump on him and the kid ended up putting us to our back.
“We were down, 6-0,” Garringer said. “We got an escape. We got turned again. It was hard to get back in it after we gave up six points right there. He wrestled tough. Jared kept pressing the action. He kept taking shots. The (other) kid didn’t take one shot the whole match. All he scored off of was Jared’s stuff.
“We’ve got to work on finishing shots,” Garringer said. “We need to get a little stronger for next year.
“It’s hard to see a kid you’ve worked with all year not come up with the result he wants,” Garringer said. “He wanted to be on the podium. He’s just got to work even harder for next year.”
“I’ve learned that I need to get stronger,” Fenner said. “I need to work on things. I need to get in the weightroom in the off-season and get back up here next season.”
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1