Edison’s Pappas punches ticket to state tournament

ADVANCING — Edison’s Ethan Pappas competes against Martins Ferry’s Richard McFarland at 170 pounds during the Div. III district tournament on Saturday. Pappas won via pinfall for third place. (Photo by Kim North)

HEATH — Martins Ferry’s Drake Dobson and Hunter Bodkin (285) each won Division III Eastern District wrestling championships Saturday night, and the Purple Riders placed third out of 55 teams with 106 points behind Nelsonville-York (175) and Galion Nortmor (117).

“The kids wrestled well this weekend,” Martins Ferry head coach Chas Yoder said. “They wrestled hard, and they wrestled tough just like you have to at a tournament like this. We brought six guys with us, and we placed six. Four are going to the state and two are second alternates.”

Edison had a trio of qualifiers in Hayden Johnson (120), Seth Cade (152) and Ethan Pappas (170). Pappas took third, while Johnson and Cade both finished fourth. However, their status is up in the air as both defaulted in the consolation finals.

Dobson, just a junior, improved to 35-7 with a 4-3 verdict over Nelsonville-York freshman Colton Snyder at 182 pounds. Dobson, who has now won a dozen consecutive matches, trailed 2-0 before escaping just ahead of the first-period buzzer. Taking the down position, the Purple Rider escaped again to deadlock the bout at 2. Snyder got away with 1:17 left for a 3-2 edge, but Dobson didn’t quit and recorded a takedown with 27 ticks remaining and hung on from there.

“Drake has been on a mission of late,” Yoder said. “He’s got quite a streak going headed to the state tournament.”

Dobson had defeated Snyder in last weekend’s Barnesville sectional.

“I’m really kind of in shock right now. That kid went out there and wrestled a lot tougher tonight than he did a week ago,” Dobson said. “But like my dad tells me, ‘It’s always hard to beat someone more than once.'”

Bodkin, who will head to Columbus for the fourth time, was relishing his victory, a 5-3 nod over Union Local’s Kade Clark in the heavyweight finals. It marked the fourth time the two Buckeye 8 rivals have met this season, with Bodkin coming out on top each time.

“Like I said after my semifinal win, I think I can beat anybody that I face,” he said. “I have to work better on my takedowns, but this is the third time I’ve been in the district finals, and this is the first time I’ve won.”

Martins Ferry also qualified senior Dalton Hoover (195) and sophomore Richard McFarland (170).

Hoover dropped a tough, 6-5, semifinal to Grandview Heights’ Hayden Jump. The two were ranked No.1 and No. 2 in the state. However, he came back and pinned Caldwell’s Trevor Hayes for the bronze.

McFarland overcame an ankle injury in his quarterfinal match and a loss in the semifinals. However, he bounced back to win two matches and punch his ticket to the state as a fourth-place finisher.

Bridgeport has a trio of qualifiers in senior Elliott Dean (132) and juniors Mason Kuneff (145) and Tino Kusic (160). Kuneff and Kusic placed third, while Dean finished fourth.

“We wrestled well this weekend. They came to wrestle hard,” Bridgeport head coach David Nelson said. “We lost a couple of tough semifinals, but the kids bounced back and won the matches they had to to qualify.”

He was really happy with Dean’s performance, as Kuneff and Kusic are returning state qualifiers.

“Elliott is a senior who has put in the work for four years,” Nelson noted. “He wrestles with Mason and Tino every day in practice and it has helped him tremendously.”

Barnesville, Buckeye Local and Shadyside all qualified one to state.

Brian Palmer Jr. became the first Panther to qualify for the state tournament since 2009. He also set a new freshman record for wins in a season (38), breaking his head coach Willie Saxton’s mark. Palmer finished third by injury default.

The state tournament begins Thursday inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University. It concludes with Saturday night’s state finals in all three divisions — I, II and III.