By GARY R. RASBERRY
For the area wrestlers heading to the state wrestling tournament
starting Thursday, it will be a mix of first appearances and
a chance for those who made it before to earn better results.
Coldwater’s Craig Homan and St. Marys’ Caleb Cisco
will make their debuts on the Schottenstein Center mats.
For the Versailles trio of John Schmitmeyer, Eric Strausbaugh
and Mark Keiser, it will be a return to state and the opportunity
to win a spot on the podium as a top-six finisher.
Cisco, the smallest area competitor at 103 pounds, makes it
to state after placing second at the Galion District on Saturday.
The St. Marys junior is coming off a strong season where he
won the Western Buckeye League title at 103 and took the Fostoria
Sectional title to get to Galion.
“Not a lot of people get to make it from around here,”
said Cisco (32-5) before a Monday practice. “When someone
does, it feels really good.
“I’m happy I got second. It definitely helped me
out for state qualifications (as a second-place finisher, he’ll
face another district’s third-place finisher). (Finishing)
Third or fourth might have made it tougher to place at state.”
Cisco will get a strong opponent for that first match. Brian
Connelly of Mentor Lake Catholic finished sixth in the state
as a freshman in 2003 and comes to Columbus with a 40-5 record.
Cisco will not only make his first appearance as a competitor,
it will be his first-ever visit to the meet, which boasts over
10,000 fans on opening day as matches take place on 10 mats.
The added atmosphere will not add worry to Cisco.
“No matter how big the crowd, I’m always nervous
before the match,” said Cisco. “Right after that
whistle sounds, it’s like nobody is even there.”
Homan (32-9) makes his first trip to Columbus and will be the
second straight representative at state for the Cavaliers after
Aaron Alig went last season. The junior heavyweight finished
fourth at Xenia’s Division III district and now has a
big challenge in facing the defending state champion, Belmont
Union’s Koel Davia (45-2), in his opening match.
“As far as preparing, I’m not going to do anything
different,” said Homan. “I’m just going to
go out and wrestle my match as much as I can. At heavyweight,
it’s pretty much been the same all year.”
Homan’s goal for state is a modest one for himself, but
big to the program.
“I’m just going out to try and win one match,”
said Homan. “They’ve said that no one at Coldwater
has ever won one at state, so my goal is to get one win at least
and go on from there.”
For the Versailles threesome, the chance to get back to state
will be a chance to prove how good they are. All three failed
to medal last year with coming Kesier the closest to the podium
before losing in the consolation quarterfinals.
Schmitmeyer won the 160-pound title at Xenia and drew the fourth-place
finisher from the Owens College district — Chris Estep
from Collins Western Reserve. After not making it out of the
consolations last season, Schmitmeyer wants to improve on that.
“I would like to get into the top four,” said Schmitmeyer
(36-5). “It’s going to be like districts —
every match is going to be tough.”
For Strausbaugh, who placed second at Xenia, the opportunity
to wrestle at state last season will be a big plus in helping
get ready for this season.
“It’s a little bit calmer this year,” said
Strausbaugh (34-7), who will face Steve Eicher from Massillon
Tuslaw (28-8). “I’m going there more confident in
myself. Having been there makes you feel better about yourself
and that you know you deserve to be there again.”
Keiser (35-6) is also happy to be getting back and having the
chance to get a better finish.
“You get overwhelmed when you get down there,” said
Keiser, who faces Joe Reamer of Sycamore Mohawk (32-7). “I
have to do a lot better than I did last season. Knowing what
to expect, I think we’ll do it better as a team this year.”