BELPRE - Belpre senior Jamie Barrett has "always wanted to go to the state wrestling tournament" in Ohio. Now he has that opportunity.
Last Saturday, the 182-pound Golden Eagle matman improved his record to 35-12 en route to a fourth-place finish in the Division III district meet at Heath to earn a state berth. Barrett had been to the district three times previously, but never qualified for the state.
"I've always imagined himself going (to the state), but I never knew what it'd feel like to actually get there," said Barrett. "It's a pretty amazing feeling."
The Ohio state high school wrestling tournament starts at 3 p.m. today and runs through Saturday at the Schottenstein Center at OSU in Columbus.
Belpre head coach Scott Adams said Barrett, by virtue of being at 182 pounds, "will probably take to the mat today at about 3:45 (p.m.)" for his first-ever state tournament match.
"And Jamie did a great job in the district," said Adams. Although losing his first-round match, Barrett came back through the consolation bracket. "He did a super job of wrestling all the way back through the consolations," said Adams. That string included a pin over the same opponent that he lost to in the first round before Barrett eventually bowed out in the consolation finals.
"You could see it in Jamie (last) Saturday," said Adams. "He was focused, he was driven, he was motivated to accomplish the task of being a state qualifier."
His initial state foe today "will be a tough test right off the bat," said Adams, in two-time state placer Armani Robinson of Jamestown Greenview who sports a 47-2 record.
"Everyone's goal is to get to the state tournament, so Jamie's excited to be going," said Adams. "So we'll see what he can do."
Barrett himself was "kind of surprised" with how well he did in the district, especially in the key consolation semifinal match, "when it really kicked in. I don't know where it came from; it just kind of came out."
He said fighting his way back through the consolation rounds, "coach Adams just kept telling me, 'One match at a time. You can make your way back in.' "
Barrett knows to do well in Columbus, he's "got to pick up the pace. And I've been told too you have to make it your match and be able to wrestle the way you want to."