BOWLING GREEN - It's safe to say that Seth Williams had a good time at last year's state wrestling meet. As the lone Columbian representative, Williams went in as a district runner-up, and wrestled his way to a third-place finish.
So far, this year's trip has the makings of being even better.
Williams will be heading to Columbus as a district champion, and two teammates are making the trip with him.
Williams claimed the 152-pound title at the Division II district tournament at BGSU's Stroh Center. Derik Kopp finished second at 132-pounds and Mason Correll took third at 138-pounds.
"Its going to be a whole lot better," Williams said. "I'm not going to be the only one down there, warming up by myself. I'm going to have two other kids down there sharing the experience. We're going to push each other."
Williams opened his day with a 13-3 major decision in his semifinal match against Oak Harbor's Jared Chambers, then scored a 5-1 decision over Clyde's Blake Miller to take the title.
"I'm starting to get into that peak shape I wanted to," Williams said. "I'm wrestling smart. I'm feeling confident going into state."
Kopp made it to the finals after a 14-2 decision over Nate Boggs of Sandusky Perkins. After edging out a 7-5 decision in Friday's quarterfinal match, Kopp said he felt the day was starting off on an easier note.
"Honestly, today wasn't as hard of a day as I thought yesterday was," he said. "I had a really tough quarterfinal match. I knew my semifinal match wasn't going to be as tough, but I still went out with the same mentality, get it over with and win."
Kopp fell short of a district title, falling to Nick Pauff of Elida by a 5-1 decision. The result was a repeat of last week's sectional championship.
Kopp though said he's excited to have three Tornadoes representing the school at Columbus.
"I think its awesome," he said. "I thought for sure we were definitely going to get two. I think it's awesome Mason Correll made it out. He pulled out a lot of big wins. That's great for him."
Correll called Saturday the best day of his wrestling career. Looking at his day, it's hard to argue. After falling in Friday's first round match, Correll had to come back up through the consolation round. He won five matches on the day, including a 3-1 decision over Tippecanoe's Jake Peura to qualify for state, then scored a revenge win over Sandusky's Gene Porter, who he lost to Friday.
"I had my coaches behind me and my teammates as well," he said. "They backed me up. I wouldn't be this far without them and my family as well. They support me every match. They come out here and just watch me and it's great."
Correll said making it to state completes a childhood dream.
"Ever since I was a kid I had imagined being on the red and green mat and it's just an amazing sight. I can't wait," he said.
Columbian isn't the only school sending representation to state. The Stroh Center also housed the Division III district, which saw a number of area athletes punch their tickets to Columbus.
Fostoria's Tony Reynolds dropped a 170-pound quarterfinal match to eventual champion Jimmy Spieth of Liberty Center Friday. His response: come out and take care of business Saturday.
"Excellent day. He wrestled really, really well today," Fostoria coach Nick Davis said. "He came out on fire after his loss yesterday. That was a tough loss, 4-2 to Speith. I think that's a winnable match; I'm kinda hoping we might see him down in Columbus. I think we could give him a match. ... But Tony did wrestle back and wrestled really, really well today."
Reynolds began his day with two technical fall victories, then almost picked up a third. In the go-to-state match, he blanked Ryan Green of Margaretta, 13-0. Reynolds then picked up a 13-6 victory over Tate Oswalt of Ayersville to win third place.
Reynolds said the loss Friday gave him motivation to come back strong.
"That just gave me more motivation to push myself all the way through to prove that OK, I got beat in the quarters, but to prove that I still deserve to be at the state level," he said.
To make the day even more special, his victory over Green was his 100th career victory.
"That's really exciting, my 100th win," he said. "I honestly didn't know until last week that I was almost to 100. I knew that the second win in the (consolations) would've been my 100th so I had to push not just for the 100th win but for making it to state as well."
Carey's Brayden Leist took third place at 132-pounds. Leist started the day with a loss in the championship semifinal match, but responded with a pinfall victory over Max Reeder of Genoa, then a 6-4 decision over Kenny Price of Archbold to win third. Leist scored the winning points with a takedown with under 30 seconds to go in the match.
"At the beginning of the year I really wanted to start training hard because this is what my end goal was, to make it to state. So far its paid off," Leist said.
"Reeder's a pretty good kid, but it was really emotional. I'm a senior, so this was my last chance and I made it."
For Carey coach Ryan Pratt, the day was emotional not only because he saw Leist make it to state, but also because of the closing of the career of Lincoln Stansberry, who finished sixth. Stansberry, though, picked up his 100th win on the day. Trailing Devon Bergeon of Ayersville with 15 seconds left, Stansberry scored five quick points for the win.
"Both those kids they've been the program for a long time," Pratt said. "I would've loved to see both of them make it, but as far as Brayden goes, he's my little buzzsaw; definitely well deserving."
Grant Price of Mohawk finished second at 170-pounds. Price is making a return trip to state, and is anxious to keep moving up the podium.
"It's a good feeling to get back down to Columbus," he said. "Obviously there's some more stuff to improve on before next week. Just got to keep working hard."
Buckeye Central's Shawn Kissell was runner-up at 285-pounds. Kissell topped Hopewell-Loudon's Coltan Hossler by a 9-5 decision in his semifinal.
BC coach Chris Smith said Kissell surprised a lot of people with his performance.
"I think we surprised a lot," he said. "I know a lot of people didn't have him getting out, so getting second is pretty impressive. Last match didn't go the way we wanted, but I think we're ready for Columbus and I think he's going to do pretty well down there."
Hossler was the top finisher for Hopewell-Loudon finishing sixth.
The Chieftains brought five kids to the tournament with Hossler being the only senior. Coach Travis Traxler said he thinks the program's future is bright.
"We came here with four underclassmen and a senior, and of our five guys, everybody won a match," he said. "Everybody was competitive. Certainly not the results we wanted but there's nothing to be upset about. We have kids that are winning matches because their in better shape, they're working hard and the future is looking bright."