MARCH 8, 2019 - COLUMBUS
Many times at the state wrestling meet the difference between placing and becoming a state finalist comes down to one opportunity, one move and even one second.
Which is something Cael Vanderhorst and Keringten Martin found out Saturday night in the championship semifinal round at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus as both wrestlers dropped matches where they were within a whisker of pulling out victory.
“That’s wrestling,” said Covington coach Eric Vanderhorst. “Both Cael and Keringten were right there, but things just didn’t work out the way we wanted.”
Vanderhorst faced unbeaten Lucian Brink of Coshocton (52-0) in the 113-pound semifinal and had the heavy favorite in a bind. After surrounding a takedown in the opening frame, Vanderhorst cut the margin to 2-1 in the second and nearly had Brink turned for back points in the third.
“Cael had a turn in place, but it ended up out of bounds,” Cael’s father and coach said. “If that would have been in the center of the mat we would have at least had three backs and possibly a fall.”
Vanderhorst attempted to turn Brink again on the restart, but the Coshocton wrestler was ready and able to defend it. This forced Vanderhorst into surrounding an escape point as time became a factor.
“We had to kick him with about twenty seconds left and try to get a takedown,” Vanderhorst said. “At that point, it was our only chance.”
And the strategy nearly worked as Cael got in deep on a shot, but time ran out as he turned the corner.
“One more second and we get the two (for the takedown),” Vanderhorst said. “That’s how close Cael was to possibly be wrestling in the finals tomorrow night.”
Covington senior Keringten Martin was just as close, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on a late takedown attempt against Kevin Contos of Genoa Area (47-2).
“He was inches from getting the tying takedown with twenty seconds left,” Vanderhorst said of Martin’s match. “But that kid is good in scramble situations and was able to get out of it for his own takedown.”
And Martin gave credit to where credit is due - his opponent.
“Honestly, he just knew more than me in that particular situation,” Martin explained. “I got in deep, but he was able to turn my momentum against me.”
This forced Martin to go for broke, which resulted in Contos catching him on his back in a cradle for three near fall points to seal the deal, 11-4.
“I had to try something,” Martin said.
And even with the defeat, Martin is having the time of his life in his final high school tournament.
“Yeah, I’m bummed a little bit because I wanted to be in the finals, but this is awesome,” Martin said of his state experience to this point. “I’m having a blast and enjoying every minute of it.”
The Buccaneer senior will wrestle tomorrow morning in the consolation semifinal against Ryan Marvin of Swanton, the same wrestler Martin defeated to start the tournament on Friday.
“We are one-and-one against each other,” Martin said of his upcoming opponent. “I’m going to wrestle my best and try to finish as high as I can on the podium. That’s been my goal throughout the tournament and that’s still my focus now.”
Vanderhorst will wrestle Collin Yinger of Nelsonville-York (40-6) tomorrow morning in the consolation semifinal.
“We just have to put these matches behind us and move on,” Eric Vanderhorst said. “I’m pleased with how Cael and Keringten are wrestling, so I think they can come back tomorrow and do well.”
Wrestling resumes Saturday at 10:00am.