By JAMIE BAKER
Elmwood’s Jake Wise and Ottawa-Glandorf’s Derek Ebbeskotte both not only qualified for this week’s OHSAA state wrestling tournament, they have another thing in common as well.
Both missed the seniors never stepped on the mat their junior years because of injuries.
Wise (37-1), who won a district title at 170 pounds and takes on Delphos St. John’s junior Wes Buettner (41-8) in Thursday’s opening round, missed last year with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Ebbeskotte earned his spot at state with a third-place district finish at 195 pounds.
But he too has a long road back.
He injured his knee during football season his junior year. He missed the Titans’ final five games before gutting it out on a bad knee for three O-G playoff games.
The knee was too injured to even consider wrestling on it. Surgery followed and he even had to have holes drilled in his knee when it was surgically repaired.
“The doctor told me I might never be able to wrestle and later he told me it might be possible if I took a big break after football season so that’s what I did,” Ebbeskotte said.
While he worked hard physically to rehab and return to action, he also did plenty of work away from thre circle to prepare before he could even step foot on the mat again.
“I worked hard and I watched countless hours of tape to get to this point. My dad Randy is a tape guru he taught me everything I know, he got me here and I’m lucky to have the great coaches I have at O-G,” said Ebbeskotte who gives his opponents problems with his long 6-foot-4 frame.
“Getting down there is a big deal but winning a match and placing is what I’m really looking forward to. I’m going to do everything I can to place at state.”
Ebbeskotte (35-8) opens against Chillicothe Southeastern’s Dezmond Perkins (31-4). He’ll be trying to become only the school’s second state tournament placer.
IN IT TO WIN IT: Last week’s overtime loss to Kyle Keller left a bad taste in the mouth of Liberty-Benton junior Tyler Sarrreshteh, who will be making his second state tournament appearance.
During a 4-2 overtime decision to Keller in the 120-pound district semis, Sarreshteh had a takedown at the end of the first period taken off the scoreboard by the officials.
Both wrestlers finished fourth at state last season.
“I want to see Keller again down there next weekend I thought I should have won that match,” Sarreshteh said. “Obviously my goal is to win a state title next weekend and I’m hoping to catch Keller again in the semis.”
If both wrestlers win their first two matches, Sarreshteh will get his wish.
But first, he’ll have to get past his opening-round bout at 3 p.m. on Thursday against Columbus Grandview Heights’ sophomore Brendan Fitzgerald (36-2).
D3 TEAM RACE: With wrestlers qualified in 12 of the 14 weight classes, Delta appears to be the favorite to win the Division III team title. The Panthers have a returning state champ in Jake Spiess, a runner-up in Tyler Fahrer and two other state placers in their lineup.
Delta has won the last two state dual meet championships but the last of its four championships in the individual state tourney came in 1999.
Dayton Christian, with eight state qualifiers, appears to be the primary challenger to the Panthers.
BIG SCHOOLS: We’ll have more on the area’s state qualifiers in Divisions I and II in Thursday’s newspaper.
By JAMIE BAKER