COLUMBUS — Tye Smith competed in his first State Individual Wrestling Tournament Thursday afternoon.
He had well over 100 competitive matches to his credit in his three-year high school career prior to wrestling his first round opponent.
Smith would face Mike Audi of Poland Seminary who won his District Tournament by defeating Kaz Struna of Mentor Lake Catholic in the final.
One thing for certain is that there are no easy matches at this level. Ohio is a highly-competitive state for high school wrestling. The Alliance Division II District is regarded as the toughest and deepest of talent of the four Division II Districts held.
Data supports that more individual place winners come from the northeast part of the state. Fifty-five percent of the qualifiers from this region win their first match at State.
This is far better than the other three, including the Southwest,where Tye Smith exited. The Blue Lion wrestler didn’t study statistics this week. He prepared like a warrior to do battle on mat No. 3 with an unknown wrestler who possessed some impressive credentials. Audi entered with a 38-4 record.
Smith was quick and strong through period one. He appeared to be every bit as skilled as his opponent in keeping the match tied at zero end the first period. Smith won the coin toss to decide where he would start the second period. He chose to defer until the third period and let Audi decide where to start period two. He chose the down position. Smith rode him well for a brief time before giving up an escape near the out of bounds line.
The two trotted back to center mat and Audi exploded with a double leg and took Smith down for a 3-0 lead. He just kept moving up from the legs to the head on the move and eventually put Smith onto his back and scored a quick fall at the 3:45 mark.
Smith had looked great up to that moment in the match. He would have to regroup and return to the mats later in the evening in the consolation rounds. He would have another opportunity to wrestle and earn a place on the podium.
Smith had to square off with Jim Brittsan of Buckeye Valley. Brittsan had lost his first round match to returning State runner-up Isiah Margheim of Sandusky who pinned him in 3:03. The mental aspect of the sport which is so crucial would be an important part of the consolation round match for the 170-pound Blue Lion wrestler. These matches often go in favor of the wrestler who possesses superior mental toughness.
Smith displayed an uncanny preparation for his second match. The whistle sounded and he began a sudden onslaught of offensive moves that absolutely overwhelmed his opponent. Jim Brittsan hardly knew what hit him. Smith scored an early takedown and held down his Buckeye Valley opponent to end the period in the lead at 2-0. The Blue Lion coaching staff was weary of Brittsan who had a well-known cradle pin.
It took Smith all of two seconds to escape and resume the attack on the feet. He took Brittsan down to his back. He fought off the pin only to be put right back onto it and be pinned by the Washington wrestler in 1:34.
Smith was asked where that energy came from in his second match.
“Just being here gave me energy,” Smith said. “After my first loss I sat and regrouped. I told myself I am going to place.”
Head coach Louis Reid related what he told his sole State qualifier.
“We told Tye to stay relaxed,” Reid said. “He practices hard everday and stays after to get more work in. We told him to stay relaxed and he did.”
Smith made it through day one. He needs to win two more consecutive matches in order to place. He thinks he can do it. If he wrestles anything like he did in the second match; he can go high on the podium Saturday evening as an All-State wrestler.
Hillsboro - Both Ryan Kelly (120) and Kordell Ford (160) were first-round winners. Kelly defeated Juwan Minnefield of Sandusky with a 13-7 decision. Ford beat Aldin Leaker of Eaton with a 12-4 major decision.
Clinton-Massie - Davey Tunon went 0-2 in Division III at 138 pounds on the day and is eliminated. He lost both matches by decision including a 6-5 overtime loss in his consolation bout.
Chillicothe - Calebe Price, a 138-pound Division II participant, was pinned in round one by three-time State Placer Cody Burcher of Claymont. He was eliminated with a consolation round loss.