Westerville Central High School wrestler Zach Brown is down to his final chance to earn a berth in the Division I state tournament.

Westerville Central High School wrestler Zach Brown is down to his final chance to earn a berth in the Division I state tournament.

After just missing out on qualifying the past two seasons, Brown believes he finally will earn that spot at state. The tournament will be held March 1-3 at Ohio State.

"I definitely feel a lot more relaxed this year and more driven to get to it on the mat and not hesitant of whom I'm wrestling because that's what's hurt me in the past," Brown said. "Now I just go out there and wrestle my match. If they beat me, they beat me, but they're beating me at my best and I'm going at them."

Brown, a senior, credits his success this winter to a busy offseason that included attending several camps and tournaments. He was 31-2 before facing Westerville South on Jan. 25 after finishing 9-0 on Jan. 21 and 22 in the Napoleon Dual Meet Tournament, where he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Brown was a bright spot for the Warhawks in a 41-21 loss Jan. 19 to Westerville North, as he pinned Connor Kline in 5 minutes, 25 seconds during a match at 170 pounds.

Other winners by pin for Central were D'Ron Goosby at 120 (4:37) and Alex Krasovec at 145 (1:07).

Before Jan. 25, Caleb Duffey was 23-10 at 182, Michael Hines was 22-10 at 106 and Dante Camboni was 17-10 at 220.

After wrestling at 160 the past two years, Brown has competed at 170 this season. Coach Bob Fresch isn't sure whether Brown will drop to 160 for the postseason.

"This season has been more solid than his first three," Fresch said. "He's been very, very dominant and he's won some great matches against very good people. In my heart, I feel very confident that this is going to be his year."

Brown is looking to be the Warhawks' first state qualifier since 2007, when Brendan Barlow finished second at heavyweight. Barlow won the state title at heavyweight in 2006.

Brown has been a state alternate the past two seasons, finishing last year 43-7 and fifth at district. In 2010, he was 43-6 overall after finishing fifth at district.

His two losses this season have come to Olentangy Liberty's Roy Daniels 3-1 in a 52-18 loss Jan. 12 and Bellville Clear Fork's Brandon O'Neill 2-1 in a final of the Top Gun Tournament on Jan. 14 at Alliance.

Last season, O'Neill finished seventh at 171 in the Division III state tournament.

"Both matches could have easily gone either way," Brown said. "Both of those guys are extremely tough. I was relaxed at Top Gun. I beat some tough guys there and was able to get to the finals to wrestle a real tough guy, so I feel like the losses have made me more driven than being undefeated."

At Alliance, the Warhawks finished 33rd (42) in the 43-team tournament behind champion St. Paris Graham (274.5), which has won the event six consecutive seasons.

Marysville was sixth (142.5) and Olentangy was eighth (114.5). Both teams compete with Central in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

Brown's success this season includes winning titles in the West Jefferson Invitational on Dec. 27 and 28 and in the Olentangy Orange Meatgrinder Invitational on Jan. 7. At West Jefferson, he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.

On Jan. 12, Brown defeated Dublin Scioto's Brian Fox 8-1 to help the Warhawks earn their lone league win this season, 30-29 on criteria.

"Everything that I have been working for has come to this year," said Brown, who would like to wrestle in college and has shown interest in attending American University in Washington, D.C., Baldwin-Wallace College and Heidelberg University.

•South earned its first league win by beating host Dublin Jerome 37-34 on Jan. 19.

"We had some kids really step up and get some key pins," coach Kerry Burton said. "We came into the dual knowing that each kid had a role to fulfill in order for us to come away with the win and our kids really stepped up and did that. That is what makes wrestling great. Even though it is an individual sport for the most part, it's times like these where the team aspect really comes out."

Winning by pin were Trace McDonald at 126 (2:43), Caleb Llaneza at 145 (:57) and Adam Thesing at 182 (3:29).

Before facing Central on Jan. 25, Llaneza was 22-7 and Hunter Dietz was 19-10 at 152.