|State wrestling: Showalter tries to rally from early loss|
By BRIAN BASSETT • DHI Correspondent
COLUMBUS - Get to the next day.
That’s the mantra for Van Wert’s senior wrestler Zack Thomas, and it was mission accomplished on Thursday in the 285-pound weight class of the 2014 State Wrestling Individual Tournament.
Thomas (26-14) dropped his first match of the day in the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State university, but bounced back in a big way - pinning Norwalk St. Paul’s Connor Careless (27-6) at the 1:54 mark of the second period.
“It feels amazing to win that match and be able to wrestle tomorrow,” said an excited Thomas of his win. “My goal was to qualify for Friday, and I did that.”
Thomas now awaits the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal match between Columbus Bishop Ready senior Patrik Garren (44-1) and West Salem Northwestern senior Mat Hunter (44-8).
“He’s on fire right now,” Van Wert coach Ben Collins said of Thomas. “That’s good to see. Especially when your back is against the wall in the consolation round. He wrestled really well. He’s wrestling smart and he’s done a great job.”
Wayne Trace junior Tyler Showalter (16-5), who wrestles in the 145-pound weight class, faced a similar situation to Thomas Thursday - having to fight back from a first-round loss.
Unfortunately, Showalter fell to Wickliffe junior David Monturi (50-6) 11-6 in the consolation round to end his tournament run.
“He got a takedown on me early so I tried to work my style and get back into it,” explained Showalter of the consolation match. “Our styles clashed. There wasn’t much I could do from what he was running on me. You get that sometimes.”
The loss came on the heels of a more frustrating one earlier in the day for Showalter. He led 5-4 in the second period over Castalia Margaretta junior Deven Taylor (47-2) in the first-round match, but one false move led to Showalter being pinned at the 1:09 mark.
“Tyler came out, hit a really nice slide-by and scored a nice takedown. Once I saw that, and I think once (Tyler) felt that, we felt really confident,” explained Wayne Trace coach George Clemens.
Things took a turn from there, however. “I was doing fine until I got caught in a move I didn’t want to be in,” said Showalter. “He caught me and I couldn’t get out.”
Based on the fact that Showalter missed most of the season with injury, his trip to state in and of itself is an accomplishment.
“He was in the football playoffs, so he missed five weeks where he would be preparing. Then he took a week off, so actually six weeks,” described Clemens.
Showalter wrestled in and won the first tournament of the year, before injuring his knee five matches in the campaign.
“He just came back right before conferences. He’s at the state tournament with 14 practices. So I’m happy as can be for him. The odds of that happening are nil,” continued Clemens.
Just a junior, Showalter looks to spend the offseason preparing to return to state next season.
“I’m going to hit the weight room harder, because I felt like that is one thing I lacked this season. Then my conditioning. I came into the season only for sectionals because of my knee injury, so I wasn’t in shape. I’m going to a bunch of wrestling stuff in the summer - so it should pay off,” Showalter added.
Thomas’ turnaround win came on the heels of a loss-by-pin to Akron Manchester senior Jacob Hanzel (33-3) in the opening round at the 1:56 mark of the first.
“I went in and tried to use my offense against him,” Thomas recalled. “I made a couple of bad moves and got put on my stomach. From there, he was in control and I couldn’t do anything.”
Fortunately, the second-round went in Thomas’ favor.
“(Careless) was sturdy on top, but once he got on bottom it was game-over for him. He just gave up for me,” continued Thomas.
Now, focus shits to Friday for Thomas and company.
“We’ll watch that quarterfinal round in the morning. See who we’ve got then. Like we’ve been saying the last two weeks, ‘get to the next day.’ (Zack) is buying in and hopefully it continues,” concluded Collins.
With a win on Friday, Thomas would make the podium. “Win two before you lose two,” he added. “That’s my goal."