Lincoln Heard, right, MHS’ 138-pound grappler, is tied up with an opponent in this file photo. Heard will be making his second consecutive trip to the state tournament that begins on Friday at The Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. (Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)
Action slated to begin on Friday
Marysville High School’s state tournament wrestlers will tangle with highly-ranked athletes from Elyria High School when the event begins on Friday.
The tournament will continue on Saturday and conclude on Sunday.
The Monarchs will be represented by junior Lincoln Heard (138) and sophomore Erryl Will (152) during the Division I competition.
They earned spots in the state tournament with second (Will) and fourth (Heard) place finishes during last week’s district tournament at Hilliard Darby High School.
Heard and Will are respectively scheduled to go up against Mick Burnett and Enrique Munguia of Elyria when the opening rounds are contested beginning at 5:35 p.m. at The Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
Heard will take a 34-12 record into his battle with Burnett, who stands at 44-5.
Burnett is a returning state champion.
Will stands at 36-7 as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with Munguia, who is 41-9.
The Elyria grappler was a 2019 state runner-up.
“Lincoln and Erryl have obviously drawn tough brackets,” said Marysville High School head coach Shawn Andrews. “Our guys are just going to have to focus on one match at a time. We have to go into each match thinking about earning score by score and getting position by position.”
Andrews said both athletes perform the best on their feet.
The strongest parts of their wrestling “games” are an underhook to a throw-by for Heard and an elbow pass to a high crotch for Will.
“Lincoln and Erryl must focus on what they do best,” said Andrews.
Heard is making his second consecutive trip to the state tournament.
As such, “Lincoln should have less nervous energy than someone who is competing for the first time,” said the MHS coach.
“My experience at the state tournament last year has made me more confident for this year’s state tournament,” he said. “I think the crowd was a little intimating for me last year.”
As far as crowds are concerned, athletes and coaches will see far fewer folks in the seats this weekend.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is limiting fan attendance to family members of wrestlers and coaches due to the coronavirus fears.
Athletes are permitted to have four family members in attendance, while coaches will be allowed to have two.
“With wrestling, it’s nice to have a good cheering section,” said Heard.
Andrews said he’s not sure how grapplers will react to fewer fans in the seats.
He did some quick math and guessed there could be slightly less than 900 folks in the stands for each of Sessions I and II on Friday.
“That’s going to be the most significant unknown of the tournament,” said Andrews. “Nobody knows how it will impact an athlete when they look up and see a lot of empty seats.”
In past years, the Monarch mat program has taken a number of its non-state qualifiers to the Schottenstein Center for the tournament.
That was done in order to give those athletes the experience of the atmosphere that surrounds the event.
“We’ve taken two vans full of wrestlers to the state tournament (to either compete or watch),” said Andrews. “It’s nice to allow the non-qualifiers the experience of at least being down on the floor during warm-ups.
“It’s disappointing those guys are going to miss out on that experience this year, however, it’s outside our control.”
While Heard is a state tournament veteran, it is Will’s first venture on the sport’s highest stage.
“I went out at the district tournament in sixth place last year,” he said. “Going into this season, I made it my goal to qualify for the state, so this is very exciting.”
Both Heard and Will have definite goals going into the tournament.
They both want to win enough matches to place in the top eight of their respective weight classes and earn trips to the awards podium on Sunday.
“The big thing is getting to the podium this year and building on that for 2021,” said Heard.
Marysville wrestler Erryl Will has a single leg on Reynoldsburg’s Noah Ratliff during a 152-pound bout at the Division I district tournament. Will is preparing for his first state tournament experience that will begin on Friday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)
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