As soon as Centerville High School 285-pounder Conan Jennings saw his brackets for the Division I state wrestling tournament, the senior knew where he was going to be.
Friday night at the Schottenstein Center, the bracket Jennings filled out before the tournament looked the way he drew it up — with him in the finals.
“I knew our district would dominate the bracket and it was a great draw for me,” Jennings said after moving into the title match with a 7-0 win over Nik Urban of Willoughby South. “I knew if I beat the kid from Elyria, I was going to the finals.”
Jennings knocked off Elyria’s Kevin Vough in the quarterfinals 8-5 to advance to Friday night’s semis.
Vough had defeated Jennings twice this season, the last at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, but Jennings recorded an early takedown and never trailed.
“That was huge for me,” Jennings said. “It felt great coming back against him and getting a chance in the state quarters to turn it around. I knew my biggest obstacle was done after that match.”
Jennings’ teammate Alexander Bair fell in the 160 semis to defending state champ Tony Dailey of Massillon Perry 10-3.
Fairmont’s Josh Parrett will try to make it two area Division I state champs after advancing to the finals at 126.
“I always told myself that I have what it takes,” Parrett said. “But it has always been just talk. I knew I was there, but deep inside I was unsure how to do it.”
Dayton Christian recorded a 4-1 semifinal round to jump into the team lead in Division III with 104.5 points. Delta is second with 98.
“We have to worry about ourselves and not Delta,” Dayton Christian coach Ted Bray said. “If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”
DC’s Jacob Danishek will go for his fourth state title at 152 after cruising into the finals and will be joined by teammates Hunter Bray (106), Christian Clary (113) and Alex Becker (138).
Troy Christian’s Garrett Hancock (120), Covington’s Jarrod Ganger (126), National Trail freshman Ben Sullivan (220) and Chaminade Julienne senior Lyle Plummer (132) will also wrestle for titles in Division III.
For Plummer, there is just one more day to check off on the chart he made following a disappointing end to his junior year.
“I made a chart that had 365 boxes in it and each day I wrote down what I did that day,” Plummer said. “Before we left, I looked at that chart again and knew that I had out-worked all the kids I was going to face.”
Plummer broke his match open when he recorded a late takedown for a 7-3 lead en route to winning 7-6.
“It felt good,” Plummer said of finally reaching the finals. “It is all confidence. I was ready to rock.”
Bellbrook’s 160 Benjamin Schram was knocked off in the semis, but teammate Cameron Kelly will make his third straight appearance in the title match.
Kelly, who won the tournament as a freshman before finishing second last season, made a statement with a fall in 4:21 over Claymont’s Kollin Clark in the semis.
“He came out and was trying to rip my head off, but I just stayed calm because I knew he would gas,” Kelly said. “That Parade of Champions (before the finals) is like no other. It is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Carlisle senior Jimmy Sandlin, who had come painstakingly close to reaching the state title match the past two seasons, finally broke through with a 5-2 win over Wauseon’s Aaron Schuette in the Division II 170 semifinals
“This is a dream come true,” Sandlin said. “I wanted to come out and accomplish that (getting to the finals). I know it is going to be tough, but I feel like I have done the work.”
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