MARENGO — Highland’s Cody Matthews entered the 2021 OHSAA Division II state wrestling tournament ranked ninth in his weight class by InterMat Ohio Wrestling.
After posting a 3-2 record on his home mats, Matthews finished seventh in the state in the 152-pound weight class, earning a spot on the statewide podium for the first time in his career.
“It’s been awesome having my whole team — they’re here working it — all the coaches here and pretty much everyone who’s been in the room with us the whole year,” Matthews said. “It’s something you push for the whole entire year, is getting on the podium and reaching that goal that you wanted and that you planned for at the beginning of the season.”
Matthews defeated Mcale Callahan of Miami Trace 4-3 in the seventh-place bout on Sunday at Highland High School to round out his season with a record of 46-7 and a state tournament medal around his neck.
“It’s something Coach (Adam) Gilmore and Coach (Andrew) Sierawski have been saying all year at every tournament, ‘End on an odd (number place). End on an odd,’ so that’s what goes through your head in every placement match; you want to end on an number,” Matthews said.
He is the fourth Scots wrestler in school history to place at the state championships. Previously, two Highland wrestlers have finished fourth and one placed fifth at the tournament.
“To get a state placer is special,” Gilmore said. “This is my 16th year coaching at Highland High School. … Cody is the third placer that I’ve coached and the fourth overall at our school. It’s just special. … Winning (Saturday) night in the blood round is an awesome accomplishment for him and for our program.”
On Sunday morning, Matthews dropped the third-round consolation bracket match to Trace Braun of Graham Local via pin fall (2:01) before bouncing back in the seventh-place match.
On Saturday, Matthews posted a 2-1 record to earn a spot in the third round of the consolation bracket. He opened the tournament with a pin fall victory against Lake Catholic senior Anthony Trivisonno at the 3:39 mark. The bout was tied 4-4 when Matthews gained the advantage and scored the pin fall. He said good preparation leading up to the tournament was the key to that win.
That match featured a battle between the No. 7 (Trivisonno) and No. 9 (Matthews) ranked wrestlers in the 152-pound weight class in Division II, according to InterMat Ohio Wrestling.
In the second round, he faced undefeated and InterMat Ohio Wrestling No. 1 ranked Peyten Kellar of Vincent Warren, losing via pin fall at the 3:44 mark to drop into the consolation bracket. Kellar (36-0) ended up winning the Division II state title at 152 pounds on Sunday.
Matthews aggravated an old shoulder injury in the match against Kellar, but overcame that to earn an 8-4 victory over Ashland’s John Metzger in the second round of the consolation bracket. He said he suffered the original injury during the 2019-2020 postseason.
A little help from my friends
Matthews said his Scots teammates rallied around him in preparation for the tournament. He said that level of support was key for him and hopes it will serve as a springboard to future success.
“It helped a lot having everybody behind me, supporting me,” he said. “No matter what happened, they’re still going to be there as good teammates to help me push myself through next year, hoping placing higher. And wanting them to see and have the whole team push harder next year and hopefully get a large number of us get to the tournament and wrestle here.”
Scots junior Eli Grandstaff, who wrestles at 170 pounds, and Matthews have been training partners for the entire season as Gilmore broke the squad into small groups in order to avoid a COVID-19 virus outbreak within the team.
“Due to COVID rules, we had really tight groups this year. We didn’t want the whole team to be quarantined due to one case,” Gilmore said. “So Eli and Cody have been working out together the whole season. Eli’s been here (at the tournament) working him out and warming him up. Eli gets it. He’s not (competing in the tournament), but he’s super-proud of his partner. The whole team’s there cheering (Cody) on if they’re not working somewhere (at the tournament).
“It’s Highland wrestling. If it’s just one kid left, it’s Highland wrestling. It’s the whole team. It’s just awesome.”
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