The high school wrestling season did not end the way seniors Andrew Shackelford and Kyle Wahl wanted, as both went 1-2 in the Division I state tournament held Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State.
Shackelford, competing at 182 pounds for Thomas Worthington, finished 36-8.
"It was a positive experience and I'm blessed to have gotten the opportunity to wrestle at state," he said. "It was a great way to end my high school career."
Wahl, competing at 145, finished 40-12 for Worthington Kilbourne.
"I've been dreaming about wrestling at (state) since I was in middle school," he said. "I'm disappointed it ended the way it did, but it was still pretty cool."
Cardinals enjoyed strong season
Shackelford defeated Parma's Justin Halaska 5-2 in the first round at state.
He then lost 9-0 to Lakewood St. Edward senior Domenic Abounader, who went on to win his third state championship, and fell 9-6 to Westlake's Logan Paul, who finished fifth.
"He won his first match but then ran into Abounader, who was quicker and faster than we were used to. Andrew was just outmatched. In the consolation, he got behind (Paul) pretty quick and couldn't get all the way back," coach Mark Gundling said. "It was a great season for Andrew, though, and it'll be tough to lose a great senior captain like him. He's a first-class kid all the way, too. He's got a lot of things going for him."
Shackelford's two points tied Thomas for 73rd of 89 teams that scored as St. Edward won (117) the title.
"I think the third match was winnable, but my opponent outwrestled me," Shackelford said.
"I felt like it was a match that could have gone either way, I just didn't get it done."
Shackelford finished second in the district tournament held Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby, as the top four in each weight class qualified for state.
Seven Cardinals competed at district and they scored 53 points to place 15th behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.
Junior Noah Messerall (132) and sophomore Ben Hooff (138) were state alternates after going 4-2 at district and finishing fifth. Messerall finished 34-7 and Hooff was 33-8.
Senior heavyweight Brooks Gilmore went 2-2 to finish 32-8. Senior Kasey Ackley (120) also went 2-2 to finish 34-11. Junior Will Coleman (126) went 1-2 to finish 26-18 and freshman Tyler Norris (106) was 0-2 and finished 23-12.
In its 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Watkins Memorial, the Cardinals finished third (182.5) behind Hilliard Bradley (205) and Pickerington Central (200.5).
Gilmore was the only sectional champion. Finishing second were Shackelford, Ackley, Messerall, Hooff and Norris. Coleman was third.
Senior Max King (160) was fifth to be a district alternate and finished 21-15. Placing sixth were sophomores James Ford (220, 23-13) and Nate Good (170, 11-15) and freshman Martice Johnson (113, 18-18).
Also competing were seniors Alex Good (145, 19-9) and Ben Hoyt (152, 6-20).
"We had 11 seniors and six started," Gundling said. "We went 7-1 in duals, finished second in the OCC-Central (Division) and put Thomas back on the wrestling map. We won three tournaments and finished second in three other tournaments. This group of seniors was special. Plus, it's sad for me because I've known them so long. I coached them in junior high before moving up with them."
Competing in Region 5-B of the state dual tournament, Thomas lost to top-seeded and host Darby 36-21 in the second round Jan. 30. The fourth-seeded Cardinals defeated fifth-seeded Kilbourne 46-16 in the first round Jan. 23 at Darby.
The Cardinals finished second (6-1) in the OCC-Central behind Marysville (7-0) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (5-2), Olentangy Liberty (3-4), Upper Arlington (3-4), Central Crossing (2-5), Dublin Coffman (2-5) and Westland (0-7).
Coach likes Wolves' potential
At state, Wahl lost his opener 23-8 to St. Edward's Edgar Bright, who went on to finish third and was a four-year state qualifier.
Wahl then defeated Cincinnati Sycamore's Brad Huber 7-5 in sudden-victory overtime before losing 17-9 to Massillon Perry's Isaac Bast, who finished eighth.
"I lost to two really good wrestlers," Wahl said. "I was really down on myself because I wanted to wrestle better and do better. But I did what I could. I'm just still disappointed that it's over."
Wahl will attend Ashland University and said he plans to attempt to wrestle there.
"At first, I didn't want to but right now, after going to state, I know I'm going to miss it," he said. "So I will do what I can to wrestle there."
Kilbourne tied for 80th (1) at state.
Wahl finished fourth at district and was the only one of six Wolves competing to qualify for state as Kilbourne finished 27th (21).
Juniors Austin Oberly (106) and Lucky Shaut (126) both went 2-2 at district. Oberly finished 37-10 and Shaut finished 31-11.
Senior Josh Jenkins (182), junior Danny Darby (138) and sophomore Tyler Silverthorn (120) all went 0-2. Jenkins finished 29-15, Darby went 20-18 and Silverthorn was 26-13.
In its sectional Feb. 16 at Westland, the Wolves finished sixth (127) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (224.5).
Wahl and Oberly were runners-up, Silverthorn finished third and Jenkins, Darby and Shaut were fourth. Junior Luke Bender (132) was fifth and finished 10-8.
Placing sixth were junior Gavin Elifritz (195), sophomore David Turner (160) and freshman Charlie Osborn (113). Elifritz finished 19-18, Turner went 14-18 and Osborn was 16-16.
Also competing were senior Stewart Seely (170, 23-14) and sophomore Darius Turner (152, 11-22). Junior Alex Meehan (220, 26-2) did not compete in the postseason because of a shoulder injury.
"With four district qualifiers ... and an injured junior in Meehan who was a state hopeful all coming back, we're definitely looking forward," coach Brett Shaut said. "That being said, it's tough to watch a competitor like Kyle go out like that. He has the heart of a champion and will be sorely missed."
The Wolves finished fourth (4-3) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Darby (7-0), Bradley (6-1) and Westerville North (5-2) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (3-4), Westerville South (2-5), Dublin Scioto (1-6) and Westerville Central (0-7).