As a seventh- and eighth-grader, Charles Williams competed in the middle school state wrestling tournament.
Still, it felt like a ground-breaking achievement to the Gahanna Lincoln junior when he placed fourth at 132 pounds in the Division I district tournament held March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby to reach high school's biggest stage for the first time.
"I've been working for this since middle school when I went to state twice in a row," Williams said. "I've been working all summer and all fall (to qualify for state) and I'm really happy to get it done. It's just been me training, practicing and still working after practice. I've been doing the extra stuff that pushes me ahead and that's why I made it (to state). I feel like this season was very consistent for me. I've been just getting better every year."
The state tournament was scheduled for March 13-15 at Ohio State but was postponed March 12 by the OHSAA because of the COVID-19 coronavirus and then canceled March 26.
Williams went 3-2 at the district tournament and finished the season 40-6. Last season, he went 2-2 at district at 120 and finished 24-10.
"Chuck wrestled incredibly well (at district) and qualified for state, which was just great for him," second-year coach Mike Flusche said. "The matches he's lost have been just little mistakes he can correct."
Flusche expects to return a nucleus led by Williams that also includes junior Ricky Alli, who went 2-2 at district at 170 to finish 39-13, and freshman Gavin Larrison, who went 0-2 at district at 106 to finish 14-14.
The Lions' other district qualifier was senior Paulo Dragin, who went 2-2 at 152 to finish 26-12. The only other senior who competed in the sectional Feb. 29 at Watkins Memorial was Mason Schumacher (138).
Juniors Ron Burns (160) and Marcus Rogers (145), sophomores Victor Anderson (heavyweight), Jordan Mann (182) and Carter Pearson (126) and freshmen Griffin Flusche (220) and Elijah Lee (120) were the Lions' other competitors at sectional.
Pearson was a district qualifier as a freshman at 106.
Gahanna went 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fifth behind champion Lancaster (5-0), earning its only win against Reynoldsburg, 45-32 on Jan. 23.
"It's my second year with the program and we had four guys at district, including two upperclassmen that went 2-2 (at district)," coach Flusche said.