COLUMBUS — The two wrestlers who guaranteed themselves a place on the podium at the state individual wrestling tournament returned to the mat Saturday morning to determine their standing.
Western Brown junior Jake Henderson squared off against Defiance sophomore Timothy “Gage” Grunden in the consolation semifinals with a trip to the third-place match on the line.
Henderson fell behind 2-0 in the first period after a Grunden takedown. Another takedown turned the deficit into 4-1, but Henderson pulled off a reversal that cut the deficit to 4-3 entering the third and final period. He would get no closer and lose the match 9-3, dropping him to the fifth-place match. Grunden would end up in third place.
In that bout, Henderson faced a familiar opponent. He squared off against Mentor Lake Catholic senior Joe Boley in the contest, the third time the pair have met on the mat this season. Henderson pinned Boley in the state duals in mid-February but Boley got his revenge, defeating Henderson 6-5 in the championship quarterfinals earlier this weekend.
The two faced off one more time, and this time Henderson emerged victorious. After falling behind 2-0 at the end of the first period, Henderson rallied for a 3-2 lead after an escape and a take-down in the second. He then earned two more points in the third, cementing the victory and earning a fifth-place finish.
After the match, Henderson said it helped to know what to expect in the bout, having faced Boley in the two other previous matches.
“The first time I wrestled him, he took me down and I was able to get on top and pick up points with the pin,” Henderson said. “You just pick up things every time you wrestle. I kept looking for that duck, I knew it was coming.”
Western Brown head coach Wendel Donathan called Henderson’s performance “gutsy” and added he wasn’t sure what to expect from the junior in his trip to the state meet.
“This was his first time up here, so you don’t know how kids are going to react,” Donathan said. “We’ve been in a lot of battles all around the country, around the region, but it’s still the Schottenstein. It’s still the state tournament. It was just a battle and he grinded it out.”
Donathan noted there is still work to do for next season, as he saw some things Henderson could fix to improve on his performance last year.
“We’ve got some things we have to clean up if we want to get higher on the podium and we’ve got one offseason to get it cleaned up,” Donathan said.
The fifth-place finish ties the school record for highest finish by an individual in the state tournament, set by Brandon Lucas last year. Henderson said he talked to Lucas before the match and Lucas made a simple request.
“He told me I wasn’t allowed to place higher than him,” Henderson said.