By the time the championship match at heavyweight was ready to begin in the Division I district tournament, Yoshi Akutsu of the Dublin Scioto High School wrestling team knew the pressure was off.
The senior already had locked up his first appearance in the state tournament, which runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State. But a district title was on the line, and so was the prospect of avenging three losses earlier this season to Hilliard Davidson's Travis Gusan.
Akutsu didn't get the result he was looking for, however, as he lost 3-0 and had to settle for being district runner-up. He had lost to Gusan 7-0 in a sectional final Feb. 16 at Westland and had lost their two matches during the regular season, falling 3-1 both times.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district, held Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby, advanced to state.
"I knew I was going to have to get a couple takedowns to win the match, but I just didn't get them," Akutsu said. "But I know that facing Gusan as many times as I did is only going to help me at state. My weight class is a little different from the others because it's more about brute strength and endurance."
Akutsu, who placed fifth at district last season and was a state alternate, went 3-1 at district and heads into state with a 37-5 record. He will face Cincinnati Northwest's Ameer Daniels (39-2) in the first round.
Gusan, who was the Division II state runner-up last season when he attended Walnut Ridge, is 46-0 entering state.
"We went at it this time with a little bit of a different game plan," coach Aaron McKenzie said. "In the third period, we chose neutral in hoping to get a takedown, but Gusan is much shorter than Yoshi and he's fast and strong. He hasn't allowed many points this season."
Also competing at district were senior Anthony Trocchio (152 pounds) and freshman Ras Lumpkins (220).
Trocchio, who won a sectional title, is a state alternate after going 3-2 and placing fifth. He won his first two matches before losing 6-4 in overtime in a semifinal to eventual district champion Scott Deluse of Lancaster. He defeated Upper Arlington's Keith Neely 8-4 in the fifth-place match and is 33-9.
Lumpkins went 1-2 to finish 15-19.
Scioto scored 32 points to finish 21st behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.
Jerome's Mowery returns to state
Only one of Jerome's nine district qualifiers advanced to state.
Brett Mowery, who missed most of December as he recovered from a knee injury, went 3-1 and placed second at 220, losing to Marysville's Morgan Miller 4-2 in overtime in the championship match.
"It was a really close match, 2-2 going into overtime," said Mowery, who went 1-2 at state last season. "He got a takedown in the last 20 seconds when my right elbow got a little too far out and he just bear-hugged me down."
Mowery is 25-2 entering state and will face Oregon Clay's Jarred Gray (21-5) in the first round.
Also competing at district were freshman Seth Transue (106, 0-2), junior Josh Transue (113, 2-2), sophomore Liam Dunlea (120, 1-2), sophomore Alex Jacobs (132, 0-2), junior Logan Mosher (138, 1-2), senior Andrew Pearson (152, 1-2) and senior Alec Hood (160, 2-2).
The Celtics scored 35 points to finish 20th.
"We had hoped more would get out, but you can't take away the amount of effort my kids gave," coach Adam Huddle said. "Seven of our nine guys won a match and that's a step in the right direction."
Coffman's Wooden takes third at district
Coffman will be represented at state by Markell Wooden.
The senior will be making his first state appearance after going 4-1 and placing third at district at 160, beating Lancaster's Ethan Bond 3-0 in the third-place match. He lost to eventual district champion Chase Boyd of Marysville 3-2 in a semifinal.
Wooden, who was a state alternate last season at 152, is 39-4 heading into state and will face Painesville Riverside's Jake Denman (30-9) in the first round.
"I think the Mason tournament (James V. Horning Memorial) in January and the (Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association) tournament over the holidays were a good test for him heading into the postseason," coach Chance Van Gundy said of Wooden. "He understands that every match will be tough (at state). We' re excited to see him perform against the best the state has to offer."
Also competing at district were freshman Lukas Manarolla (113, 1-2), sophomore Adnan Mohamud (132, 0-2), freshman Willy Plaisir (138, 1-2) and junior Riley Young (heavyweight, 1-2).
Coffman scored 22 points to tie Columbus West for 24th.