Reynoldsburg News

Wrestling

Love pins hope on postseason

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg High School senior James Love never has to look far for motivation when it's time to practice or lift weights.

All he has to do is think back to the end of last season and his focus returns.

For the second consecutive season last winter, Love settled for fifth in a sectional tournament as the top four in each weight class advanced to district.

"It's been a real big driving force," Love said. "To go from your sophomore year to being a junior and ending up finishing (in the same place) you got your sophomore year is a low blow."

Love won both of his matches at 182 pounds on Jan. 9 in OCC-Ohio Division action and was 12-2 overall entering the Marion County Invitational held Jan. 10 and 11.

The Raiders, who lost to Pickerington North 55-11 and host Gahanna 54-22 on Jan. 9, return to OCC-Ohio action Thursday, Jan. 16, at home against Grove City and Pickerington Central. They are 0-3 in the league, with their other loss coming to Lancaster 63-10 on Dec. 16.

Of Love's first 12 victories, 11 came by pin. He entered the Marion County Invitational with a career record of 72-38 that included 57 pins.

The program record for pins, according to coach Jared Ball, is 65 by 2007 graduate Andy Hartshorn.

Hartshorn went 125-35 for his career, earning a second-place finish in the 2006 Division I state tournament at heavyweight, and went on to wrestle for Ohio University.

"I was all right on bottom last year, but I've been getting better on my feet," Love said. "(Getting the program pin record) would be sweet. My top is looking pretty strong and my bottom has been looking good. One thing I need to work on still is being on my feet."

Love wrestled for just one year before high school, but a move he learned at the junior high level -- the crossface -- is one he has turned to regularly when he has pinned opponents.

In a crossface, a wrestler first catches an opponent's arm in a leg scissor and reaches across his face to gain control.

The success Love enjoyed early in his prep career likely contributed to how disappointed he felt after missing out on district the last two seasons.

After going 12-15 at 171 as a freshman, Love improved to 22-15 at 170 as a sophomore but lost to Dublin Scioto's Brian Fox 16-3 in his district-qualifying match.

Then last winter, Love won his first match at sectional but was pinned by Thomas Worthington's Andrew Shackelford in the third round to fall into the backdraw.

Love then lost to Hilliard Bradley's Sam Riggs 9-5 in his district-qualifying match before pinning Olentangy Orange's Mitchell Florence in 2 minutes, 19 seconds to place fifth and finish 26-6.

In the dual against Gahanna, Love was one of just four Reynoldsburg wrestlers to win, joining Dominic Hathaway (120), Nathan Smiley (126) and Raphael Turner (220).

"He's just a physical specimen, real muscular and lanky," Ball said of the 6-foot-2 Love, who plans to attend Columbus State for two years with the hope of then majoring in engineering at Ohio State.

"He's got vice grips for hands. He's a kid who had a lot of success early on as a sophomore and I'd say he'd probably say he underachieved the last two years. Last year, we fully expected him to go to state, but he had a really tough sectional and ended up taking fifth. He's a kid who needs to continue to get better each and every week.

"He's probably going to break the school pin record. Even as a freshman he was pinning a bunch of guys. He's a real tough guy on top."

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