State mat meet: 7 area wrestlers to compete in Columbus Thursday

A prep wrestling tag team practice session took place at Warren High Monday.

Some of the participants were Waterford’s Austin Lang, and Warren’s Levi Congleton and Cory Parsons.

Belpre’s Gavin Stalnaker was also invited to the workout but had to be elswhere.

On Tuesday, the grappling group was scheduled to practice at Belpre.

Lang, Congleton, and Stalnaker each is a state qualifier and will be on the mat when the individual tournament begins at 2 p.m. Thursday at Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.

The double-elimination tournament is a three-day event, which will conclude Saturday.

Parsons, a fifth-place finisher in the 113-pound weight class at the Goshen district, is an alternate, and will only get to wrestle if someone is injured. As a past two-time state qualifier, the Warrior standout does have state tournament experience.

Lang, Congleton, and Stalnaker do not.

“This will be Austin’s first trip to state,” said Waterford wrestling coach Scott Zimmer. “I am really happy with his draw.”

Lang (48-8) is slated to wrestle West Liberty-Salem freshman Trevor Anderson (37-5) in a Division III championship 126-pound preliminary.

“I believe Austin can wrestle a close match with 15 of the 16 in his weight class,” Zimmer said. “The one wrestler, Zack Nelson (54-0) of Apple Creek Waynedale, is a three-time state placer, and is heads above everyone else.

“If Austin gets to wrestle Zack it will be in the semis and that means automatic placement for Austin as a junior. We will take it.”

The top 8 placers in each weight division at state earn All-Ohio status.

Stalnaker (32-7) will be matched up against Miamisburg Dayton Christian freshman and district champion Hunter Bray (43-3) in the 106-pound weight division. The Golden Eagle freshman, who is coached by Scott Adams, placed fourth in the Philo district.

Congleton (41-4), Warren’s single-season record holder in falls, is scheduled to wrestle in a D3 opening bout at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. The 106-pound Warrior’s opponent will be Napoleon freshman and district champion Seth Beard (41-4).

“I expect Levi will be nervous, but once he gets over that, he is capable of winning two or three matches at state,” said Warren coach Mike Pahl of his talented sophomore. “If he does, he’ll be standing on the podium.”

If Lang, Stalnaker and Congleton win their opening bouts, they’ll wrestle next on Friday. If they lose, though, they’ll have to come back and compete in a consolation round Thursday evening.

On opening day at state in D3, Noble County will be represented by three Caldwell wrestlers – junior Kameron Rayner (42-6), senior Kale Rayner (39-4), and senior Jared Leasure (41-5). In the 138-pound weight division, Kameron Rayner will be squaring off against Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic senior Alex Guerra (42-9).

At 170 pounds, Kale Rayner will be facing Delphos St. John’s senior Will Buettner (44-7).

And, at 182 pounds, Leasure will be pitted against Orwell Grand Valley junior Glenn Zaller (40-3).

Rodney Richter (20-3) is Monroe Central’s lone state qualifier, and the 113-pound sophomore will be tangling with Troy Christian sophomore Jarred Ganger (32-5) in a preliminary bout.