Competing as a freshman in the 120-pound weight class, Cardington’s Draven Hubley was able to claim one win in the Division III state wrestling meet.
Hubley earned a hard-fought decision in his opening match, as he outlasted Hunter Long of Haviland Wayne Trace in picking up a 6-5 victory on Thursday night.
Friday was not as kind to the Pirate grappler. Taking on Oscar Sanchez of Genoa Area, a senior who would pick up his second state championship over the weekend, he was defeated by 15-0 technical fall. He then lost to Seth Unkefer of Apple Creek Waynedale in the match to determine if he would place or not. The 6-2 decision by Unkefer ended Hubley’s state tournament.
Head coach Joe Sumner feels his freshman has what it takes to improve his showing in the state meet over the next three years.
“He’s had a pretty good showing as a freshman,” he said. “He has a little more growing to do, but his head is in a good spot. I’m looking forward to next year and him improving. The school’s proud of him — everyone’s proud.”
Sumner, who is trying to rebuild the Pirate wrestling program, is also hoping Hubley’s appearance at the state meet will be a building block towards making that happen.
“We’re working on building our youth program,” he said. “He’s one of the first from our youth program moving up. We’re starting the foundation.”
Mount Gilead Indians
Mount Gilead senior Brandon Strickland was able to finish his high school wrestling career in the Schottenstein Center. Strickland competed in the 170-pound weight class in Division III, going 0-2 on Thursday.
In his first match, he was beaten 9-0 by Garrett Wright of Bloomdale Elmwood. Later that night, he lost 8-1 to Clayton Takacs of Orwell Grand Valley. Both of those wrestlers wound up placing, with Wright finishing fifth and Takacs taking seventh.
“He’s come a long way,” said head coach Mike Williamson. “He just started in eighth grade. From what he’s gotten done in five years, I’m proud of him.”
Strickland was the first MG wrestler at the state meet since Michael Mollohan went 1-2 in 2014 as a sophomore. As a junior, Mollohan saw his season ended by injury; something that Strickland could relate to, as he was having a strong junior season before an injury in the sectional finals ended it.
“We’ve had so many kids, Mollohan was one of them, that have gotten hurt,” said Williamson, who added that Strickland had to spend a few months coming back from that injury, making his reaching the state meet an even more impressive feat.
While the coach will graduate Strickland, as well as some other wrestlers from this year’s team, he has high hopes that it won’t be another five-year wait for a state qualifier.
“We’ve got guys coming up,” he said. “We have a good group of freshmen coming in. Our sophomores this year have to step up, but I think they’re ready to make that jump.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS