As Kameron Teacher approached the mat, the sophomore heavyweight knew what was on the line.
A victory would allow the fourth-seeded Central Crossing High School wrestling team to advance over top-seeded and host Hilliard Bradley in Region 6-A of the Division I state team tournament. A loss would send the Comets home, ousted from the dual-match competition.
With his team trailing by two points, Teacher used four takedowns to outlast Bradley's Ryan Beveridge 11-5 and send Central Crossing into a Region 6 semifinal with a 33-32 victory Jan. 22.
"I tried to stay calm, but I was nervous and tingling," Teacher said. "I believed I could win, but it was a big match. It was tough."
Both wrestlers worked themselves to exhaustion during the first period, trying to throw one another to the mat by way of headlocks. Once Teacher started to go for the legs, the takedowns started to come his way.
"Coach (Jamie Ramirez) always works us hard to get us in shape and that helped," Teacher said. "I knew I had to suck it up and keep going so we could get this win."
The Comets faced Hilliard Davidson, which was seeded third in Region 6-A, in a regional semifinal Jan. 29 at Marysville. The winner advanced to face Marysville or Beavercreek in the Region 6 final following the opening match.
The eight regional champions in Division I advanced to the state quarterfinals Feb. 8 at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
"I'm so proud of all of the kids and the way they came here and wrestled," said Ramirez, whose team also defeated fifth-seeded Grove City 43-27 in the first round at Bradley on Jan. 22. "That's what hard work smells like.
"We come in at 6 a.m. every day and wrestle before school and then we go in and work out again after school. They really have worked hard for this and it's paying off."
Against Bradley, Jackson Lakso (113 pounds) and Ethan Leapley (145) won by pin and Casey Davis (152) won by technical fall. Robbie Fusner (195), Gavin McKenney (132), Teacher, James Wimer (120) and Josh Wimer (138) all won by decision.
Lakso (113), Hunter Taylor (160) and Josh Wimer (138) won by pin against the Greyhounds, with Davis (152), Leapley (145) and James Wimer (120) winning by major decision. Zach Collins (106) won by decision and Teacher (heavyweight) won by default.
"Kameron is a quick learner, a good student and goes against a lot of older kids as a heavyweight," said Ramirez, whose team is 1-4 in the OCC-Central Division entering a match Thursday, Jan. 30, at Westland. "He wants to go to state this year and has worked hard enough to do that."
On Jan. 25, the Comets finished fourth (172.5) of eight teams in the Watkins Memorial Invitational behind champion Marysville (209). Lakso (106), Teacher (heavyweight) and James Wimer (112) won titles.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, Central Crossing plays host to its inaugural Comet Tournament. The 12-team event also includes Briggs, Eastmoor Academy, Franklin Heights, Groveport, Independence, Logan Elm, Loudonville, Mifflin, Teays Valley, Walnut Ridge and Whetstone.
Greyhounds resume league competition
Grove City competes Thursday, Jan. 30, in a home OCC-Ohio match against Pickerington Central.
It's the Greyhounds' first action since losing to Central Crossing in the first round of the state team tournament.
"A little bit of rest should be good for us," said coach Jay DiMasso, whose team is 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio. "We wrestled two matches on (Jan. 16) and then had to leave for a tournament up north (in the Maumee Bay Classic at Oregon Clay) at 5:45 the next morning and spent two days there. The rest should help us."
Against Central Crossing, Justin Belmonte (195), Drew Capehart (182) and Jake Crosby (170) won by pin. Cornelius Marshall (126) won by decision and Andrew Bals (220) won by forfeit.
"I'm really happy with the way Justin Belmonte wrestled, especially since he was light (for 195) at 188," DiMasso said.