COLUMBUS — Nothing occurred on Friday to suggest Legacy Christian isn’t putting itself in line for a second straight state championship.
The Knights’ nine qualifiers competing in the OHSAA state championships combined for an 8-1 record during their first-round matches at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“It was really good,” Legacy head coach Tim Begley said. “Expected to win eight, but it’s more individual based on each kid actually. Each kid, each period and each position. You see them coming out and doing some good, solid stuff.”
Legacy had the most individual qualifiers in Division III of any other team and racked up bonus points during the day with five pins and two technical falls. The Knights had 29 team points at the end of the first day of competition, leading its division by 13 and third-most across all divisions.
“I tell them all right now that you get a pin,” Begley said. “You get a tech, then get a tech and that’s good. But if you get a pin at this time, then we start that mentality of what I told them in districts.”
Eli Campbell got the day started at 113 pounds with a 17-2 tech fall win in the third period. Dillon Campbell followed it up with a faster 15-0 tech win before the 1st period could end.
Logan Attisano started a run of pinfalls with a win in 1:14 at 126. Brayden Brown trailed by points early in his 132-pound match before finishing a pin during the second period while having a 6-2 advantage.
“Brayden got to pin a kid with a move that we just did last week,” Begley said “And he did it like textbook, hip down. That made my day.”
Camron Lacure, last year’s 132-pound champion, made short work of his opening match with a pin 15 seconds after the starting whistle.
Two-time champion Gavin Brown racked up points before gaining a pin at 1:09 of the first period. Nick Alvarez secured his win in under 30 seconds after a takedown in the opening moments.
The toughest opening round win came from Boede Campbell at 144 by a 6-2 score. Boede lead 2-0 after the first two minutes and secured a takedown of his own in the second to double his lead. In the third, he overcame a penalty point for an illegal move, as well as having a three-point near fall overturned, but still scored two other takedowns to get the win.
“The only thing that made it look a little closer was I think we were only hitting stuff at like 80 percent,” Begley said. “I think he had four takedowns and the referees didn’t do a bad job, but he didn’t finish what he had, just he did 80 percent of the move.”
Ethan Cooper’s match at 157 was stopped during the third period due to a hard collision with the mat. Referees and coaches checked with Cooper for several minutes before deciding to end the contest. It was identified as a fractured elbow which will not allow him to compete in the consolation rounds. Cooper was trailing 4-3 with 26 seconds remaining when the injury occurred.
After getting the evening off, quarterfinal matches begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with potential semifinals taking place in the evening.
A strong start can only take you so far in a three-day event without following up, and the Legacy wrestlers appear to understand the mentality needed to continue on, according to Begley. Most of the preparation for the upcoming rounds will consist is going about daily routines.
He said he does want to stress that important matches take place prior to the finals, and Saturday could involve going through some of the toughest obstacles during a journey to potentially winning a state title.
“It’s a lot of times your quarters match and sometimes in the first round,” Begley said. “Gavin Brown I think only won by one point his freshman year in the first round here and ended up being a state champ.
“Different conflicts of styles. Where’s your head at? You better be ready in this tournament, you got to be ready.”
Xenia’s Smith extends his tournament run
Bouncing back from an opening loss to wrestle on Saturday, Jamell Smith didn’t waiver in his confidence having to wrestle in the consolation bracket.
“It was the same game plan going in to wrestle how I know I can wrestle,” he said. “Don’t pause, don’t hesitate and go how I know to do so.”
Leading 4-1 after a pair of takedowns, Smith got a pin 31 seconds into the second period against Clay Broadhurst of Avon Lake to advance into the second round of the consolation bracket.
”We just want to redemption at this point,” Smith said. “We’re building back up, getting stronger together from athletes to coaches and it’s just bringing us all together even more and more.”
Smith fell in his opening match at 215 pounds against Max Vanadia of Breksville-Broadview Heights by a 6-3 decision.
All of Vanadia’s points came via two-point takedowns, with Smith gaining one-point escapes.
“I thought we were the active wrestler,” Xenia head coach Andy Lewis said after the match. “I thought we were the one putting in the work and there were zero stall calls and that is what it is.”
Smith will next face the loser of the Zachary Delsanter-Logan Shephard quarterfinal match which is to take place in the morning.
Lewis said the two of them prepared in case an alternate route through the tournament would be needed, which is the situation Smith now finds himself in as he chases after a potential third-place finish on the podium.
“We knew this was going to be a long haul,” Lewis said. “We knew it was going to be a long run. We knew things could happen that would make the day a little longer and we were prepared for that. Now it’s the same goal and just different route.
“I just told him that one win isn’t why we came here. The biggest thing tonight is just to reset and get ready again. Every match from here on out is a battle.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.