By Adam Baum, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBUS - On the second day of the Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament at Ohio State's Jerome Schottenstein Center on Friday, 12 local grapplers won their first two matches of the tournament to secure a spot in the semifinals, to guarantee a top-six finish on the podium.
Friday night, five of those 12 won their semifinal matches, and they'll have a chance at a state championship on Saturday night.
Fairfield junior Zach Shupp, Mason seniors Jaimen Hood and Zackary Donathan, La Salle senior Corey Shie, and Moeller junior Jake Thompson will all wrestle Saturday night for state titles.
Shupp, who placed sixth at state last season, started the night off at 106 pounds with a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker win to secure his spot.
"It's pretty crazy," said Shupp, who's currently sporting a colorful black eye. "There's nothing really like it. You just get lost in the moment. You gotta tell yourself you want it more than he does."
Fairfield's Jabari Thomas (120), Sam Meddings (145) and Andrew Sams (170) will all join Shupp somewhere on the podium Saturday night. Fairfield's four ties a school record for most state placers, joining the 1991 team.
"Four is the most placers we've ever had," said Fairfield coach Jason Laflin. "It's been a good weekend, we only brought four kids ... we got all four to the podium."
Shupp will be the first Fairfield state finalist since 2004, Laflin believed.
"We've had a pretty long drought of someone competing for a title," said Laflin. "It's tough to win in Ohio. Ohio's one of the best states in the country. They don't give state titles away. In order for you to get to this level, you really have to put in the work. It's a testament to everybody who makes it."
Hood and Donathan went back-to-back with semifinal wins. Hood beat Matt Kazimir, of Lakewood St. Edward, 3-2 in sudden victory at 126 pounds. Then, at 132 pounds, Donathan, a state runner-up last season at 132, won 5-1 for a return trip to the championship.
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