Ethan Smeagel of MHS (top) has an opponent wrapped up in a “merkle” during this district semifinal match. Smeagel will be making his first appearance in the high school state wrestling tournament this week.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)
The five-man crew that will represent Marysville High School during this week’s Division I state wrestling tournament is by and large a group that is used to competing on that big stage.
Jacob Marsh (152) and Tyler Bates (160) are senior veterans of the state tournament.
Walker Heard (145) and heavyweight Tyler Connolly are juniors who have returned to the state platform this season.
There is one Monarch grappler, however, who is making his first-ever appearance at the high school state tournament.
Ethan Smegal is a junior who will put his talents up against the state’s other D-I 220-pounders when the tournament begins late Thursday afternoon.
Smeagal earned a berth in the state tournament with his runner-up finish at Hilliard Darby’s district competition last Saturday.
“I feel really blessed to be in the state tournament,” he said. “God has blessed me with this opportunity.”
Smeagel said he felt he wrestled well during the district tournament.
“I went in hoping that I’d get off to a fast start and keep moving forward,” he said. “I went through all of my attacks and I thought my offense went well.”
Smeagel missed winning a district championship by just two points as he fell to Derrick Bowman of Lancaster by a 5-3 verdict.
The Monarch junior knows he will face stiff competition when he goes up against the rest of the 220-pound field at The Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
He will take a 25-10 record into Thursday’s opening round match against Adam Luster, a Massillon Perry sophomore who is 28-7.
The winner of that match will face either Josh Bever, a junior from Ashland (41-5) or Joe Cochran, a Springfield senior who is 30-2.
The loser of the Smeagel-Luster bout will have to work his way through wrestle-backs in order to advance to the awards podium on Saturday evening.
“I haven’t looked at the bracket and I won’t,” he said. “I’m just going to take one match at a time and I won’t look ahead.”
Smeagel said he has been working very hard to get to this point of the 2017-18 season.
“I’ve put in the time and effort and my teammates and coaches have pushed me to be where I am,” he said.
While this is Smeagel’s first appearance in the high school state tournament, it’s not his initial time on a big-level stage.
He placed seventh during the state middle school tournament three years ago in the heavyweight division.
Smeagel admits he’ll probably have some nervous energy prior to taking the mat on Thursday.
“I have to remember, though, that I work as hard as anybody and that I’m a good wrestler,” he said.
What does Smeagel feel he’ll have to do in order to place during the tournament?
“I have to be aggressive in each match and stay on top of my attacks,” he said. “I can’t give up at any time and I have to wrestle the entire match.”
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