COLUMBUS — Bethel-Tate senior Jeffrey Botts took to the mat one last time in his high school career Saturday morning.
Botts competed in the seventh-place match in the 195-pound weight class of Division III against Barnesville junior Caid Bunfill. After falling behind 3-0 early, Botts would lose the match via pin at the 2:26 mark.
Nonetheless, Botts became just the second Bethel-Tate Tiger since 1998 to place at the state level with his eighth-place finish, joining two-time placer Alec Peters, who graduated last year. Peters finished fourth in the state in the 120-pound class in both 2014 and 2015.
According to head coach Tom Donahue, Botts was slowed by a high ankle sprain suffered during his district quarterfinal match a week ago. Donahue said the team wasn’t sure how he would handle the competition in the state tournament.
“We didn’t know what to expect or how he was going to feel,” Donahue said. “We were hoping that a week of healing would help him be able to compete, but he battled. We’re not upset with that.”
According to Donahue, the team considered pulling Botts out of the tournament and defaulting on a pair of matches, but Botts was able to battle through the pain.
“We almost defaulted, his semifinal match and placement match were almost defaulted,” Donahue said. “He did just enough to get here…we’re proud of him. We’re proud of the fight.”
Donahue also noted how impressive it was for Botts to still place at the tournament despite the injury, which cut drastically down on Botts’ ability to practice the last few weeks.
“To get on the podium is still impressive, but it’s not what we expected, not what we hoped for,” Donahue said. “He really hadn’t practiced the last two weeks.”
The senior will leave behind a legacy at Bethel-Tate in both wrestling and football, as according to Donahue Botts often led the charge on the mat and on the gridiron.
“In wrestling and football, the teams go as Jeffrey Botts goes,” Donahue said. “He makes a huge impact and he had a great year. It just didn’t finish the way we wanted it to finish.”