KETTERING — Jamell Smith hit a small roadblock on his path to the state wrestling meet at this past weekend’s district tournament, losing for just the fifth time this season.
But after finishing second to Edgewood’s Wyatt Walker at 215 inside Kettering’s Trent Arena, the Xenia High School junior now has his focus on the bigger picture: Securing a place on the Division I podium in what should be a packed Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
“Its just more motivation for next week,” Smith said of the loss. “More motivation to get back out here on Monday night, have a good practice through the week. And head into Friday with my head up. The (district) title would have been nice. (But) going to state, so. It feels good. All the hard work I put in, all the work I put in last week, it all came into play today.”
Smith will be Xenia’s first wrestler to actually wrestle at the state meet since 2015. Desmond Diggs qualified at 132 pounds in 2020, but the tournament was cancelled due to COVID. Prior to that, the Bucs sent three to the state meet in 2015 — Lawrance Dudgeon (138 pounds), Cody Smith (220), and Trever Jackson (285). Cody Smith and Jackson each placed seventh, losing their first match and then going 3-1 in the consolation bracket.
Jamell Smith is hoping to end Xenia’s six-year dry spell and the district championship match will serve as a blueprint of what it takes. He was down 2-0 about 30 seconds in, trailed 5-0 after the first period, and then 7-0 after a reversal before being pinned in 2:40.
“Just the little things got me and it’s just what I need to improve on by myself,” Smith said. “I could have won that match. He’s a good kid. I will admit that.”
Coach Andy Lewis was pleased with Smith’s weekend, especially considering Smith hasn’t wrestled long.
“I just got him to start wrestling in eighth grade,” Lewis said. “He performed extremely well this weekend. Came up a bit short. I think we shocked a lot of people at the same time.”
But that won’t satisfy anyone in the blue and white of Xenia.
“Our plan isn’t to just go to state,” Lewis said. “Our plan is 100 percent to be on that podium.”
Smith will take on Brecksville’s Max Vanadia, who went 34-8 during the regular season and was sixth at 195 last year.
Legacy Christian secured a D-III district team title and four individual championships on Saturday at Troy’s Hobart Arena.
The team’s 209 points comfortably secured the title by 76.5 over Mecahnicsburg.
Dillon Campbell at 120 pounds, Camron Lacure at 138, Gavin Brown at 150, and Nick Alvarez at 165 all won in their respective weight classes.
Brown won via pin less than one minute into the first period, while Lacure and Alvarez outpointed their opponents. Campbell’s finals match was awarded by default.
Nine Knights in all advance to the state championships, where the group will look to defend its team title from 2021.
Eli Campbell, Brayden Brown and Boede Campbell all finished as runners-up. Logan Attisano produced a third-place finish, and Ethan Cooper came in fourth.
Greeneview finished in 15th place in earning 32 points.
Ashtan Hendricks at 126 had the team’s best finish in fifth-place, while Kyan Hendricks came in sixth.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507. Steven Wright contributed to this story.