COLUMBUS — The Western Brown Wrestling team continued their historic season last weekend at St. John Arena in Columbus at the state dual quarterfinals.
The fifth-seeded Broncos were matched up against Mentor Lake Catholic in the first round, and although the team held the lead throughout the dual, Lake Catholic pulled away late for a 47-24 victory that ended Western Brown’s run.
In the 106-pound class, MLC freshman Conor McCrone earned a 13-1 major decision victory over Western Brown’s Jed Marlow to give his team a 4-0 lead.
Brandon Lucas cut that deficit to 4-3 after earning a 5-3 victory over Hunter Ryan. Seth Taylor gave the Broncos their first lead one match later by pinning Dakota Ryan at the 3:58 mark.
The Cougars then went on a run, earning three straight victories, two by pin. That upped their lead to 20-9 before the Broncos answered.
Jake Henderson pinned Joe Boley in 2:53 in the 145-pound class. Malachi Marlow then earned a 6-4 decision victory in overtime, immediately followed by Eric Altman’s pin in the 160-pound weight class. Those three results put the Broncos ahead 24-20.
Dylan Mosher and Aaron Fischer then went down via pin for the Broncos, putting the Cougars back in front. Of the last five weight classes, Mentor Lake Catholic won four via pin and the other with an 8-4 decision.
Head coach Wendel Donathan said the Broncos faced a tough opponent and fought hard, and even though the team lost they will learn from the match.
“In my opinion, Lake Catholic was probably the second-best team there (in our division),” Donathan said. “They were solid all the way thru the line up. There’s no doubt we battled, we just came up short…If there is one thing we learned is that we have to be even more committed in the off-season. If you want to compete with the better teams in the state, you have to put the time in. We are still very young.”
Although the result wasn’t what the team was looking for, Donathan said the experience of competing in a state tournament is crucial for his wrestling squad.
“It was an experience that they will never forget,” Donathan said. “They had the opportunity to compete against the best teams in Ohio, in St. John Arena; they will never forget that. The nice thing about it is that we only had three seniors and one junior there. The other 19 we took were all sophomores and freshmen and the experience will motivate them to make it common place to return. To say that we are one of the top eight teams in the state of Ohio is a good thing for our program.”
The Broncos finish the dual-team portion of the season with a 14-2 record. In addition to the loss to the Cougars, the Broncos fell to Glen Este on the last match of the “Battle of 32” last month.
“We battled thru a difficult schedule and the kids responded well,” Donathan said. “People have taken notice of us and the expectations have just gotten bigger. We will look to make a few changes in our schedule next year that will push us even harder.”
The team now prepares for the individual tournament, which begins this weekend at Batavia High School. Donathan said there isn’t much he does differently from a coaching standpoint.
“Not much to change at this point, I just have to make sure they are healthy and focused,” Donathan said. “We tend to spend more time at this point in the season just cleaning up our technique. At this point it boils down to who wants it the most. Those kids are the ones who want to continue their season.
While there are a trio of Broncos who will likely make a return trip to Columbus, Donathan said the entire team has the potential to have success in the tournament if they work for it.
“There may be a few bumps over the next few weeks, but the kids are prepared,” Donathan said. “Brandon [Lucas] and [Malachi Marlow] know that it is not just a given that they will make it to state, they are going to have to battle. Jordan Hamblin and Jake Altman both missed qualifying to state last year by one match and have some work to do if they want to get there this year. There are many others in our roster that could make it, but they are going to have to fight and claw their way to accomplish that. The mind set of many athletes is just to get there, but our kids have higher goals than just that.”