Northmor’s Conan Becker rallied after a first-round loss Thursday afternoon at the OHSAA state wrestling individual tournament to finish fifth in the 132-pound weight class in Division III.
After falling to Milan Edison’s Brady Barnett by a 10-2 margin in his opening match, Becker won three straight matches and four of his final five to earn a spot on the podium.
The Knight sophomore’s last match of the tournament came on Saturday against Alex Gordy of Chillicothe Southeastern. While he trailed for most of the match, Becker was able to even the score at 6-6 after muscling Gordy down with a head-and-arm. He then put his opponent on his back and squeezed until a pin was called with only seven seconds remaining on the clock.
“I knew I had to go,” said Becker. “Even though I was tired and wanted to give up, it’d have haunted me if I lost that match, so I kept going.”
Gaining a last-second win was nothing new for Becker during the state meet, as all four of his wins came down to the wire. Before that pin, his biggest margin of victory was a two-point win.
“That’s what we preach all year — just finish strong,” said Northmor head coach Scott Carr. “Always try to finish the job because he had too good of a weekend to not.”
For Becker to win that match, he had to overcome the disappointment of not having a shot at third place. In the consolation semis, which were held roughly an hour before the consolation finals, he suffered a 15-3 major decision defeat to Stan Bleich of Elyria Catholic.
“We talk about, that after a loss, you have five minutes to be sad, mad or whatever,” said Carr. “Then you have to refocus. You can’t change the past, you just have to keep working forward.”
Becker was able to rebound from both of his losses. After his Thursday loss to Barnett, he came back to top Trey Combs of Cuyahoga Heights 7-5 in the opening round of consolations. Becker noted that while the large area at the Schottenstein Center was a bit imposing to him initially, after he was able to get that first win, he felt pretty comfortable.
“The first match was a little rough because I’m not used to the big arena and a lot of people, but I got used to it,” he said. “I was pretty happy last (Thursday) night because I knew what I had to do.”
He then opened Friday with a dramatic 6-5 win over Michael Yacapraro of Wooster Triway. Becker held a 5-3 lead in the third period, but gave up two points to tie the score. However, he was able to record an escape in the final seconds of the match to take a one-point win.
“I was thinking I needed to get out quick and nothing was going to stop me,” said Becker of what was going through his mind in the waning moments of the bout.
Becker then avenged a district loss when he took on Kolby Rayner of Caldwell. In the district meet, he was edged in overtime by Rayner, but on Friday night, he was able to return the favor by getting a takedown in the extra minute of action to win 3-2 in sudden victory.
“I knew this was my time to win in overtime,” he said. “He beat me last week. I knew when I got into a place, I could keep moving up the ladder. I wouldn’t be satisfied with seventh or eighth. It came down to who wanted it the most and who wrestled 100 percent the whole time would be the winner of the match.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS