One step down, two to go for those seeking state treasures in the Month of Champions.
However, the district wrestling tournament, which start Friday at Fairmont (Division I), Wilmington (Division II) and Hobart Arena (Division III), can be the toughest step to take.
»RELATED: High school roundup for Feb. 28
»RELATED: High school scoreboard for Feb. 28
What’s one of the keys to advancing?
“Think about your preparation, not theirs,” Ohio State heavyweight, Olympic champ and two-time World champ Kyle Snyder tweeted this week. “Your execution, not theirs. Your desire and effort not theirs. Don’t worry about them. Let them worry about you.”
The top four in each weight class advance to the state tournament.
Here are some things to watch:
It will be like a normal tournament for Graham.
The Falcons advanced all 14 wrestlers to the district tournament, the only team in Division II to enter completely intact. Graham is seeking its 18th consecutive state title.
Just 10 wrestlers enter the district tournaments (Division I-III) undefeated and four of them are from the area.
In D-I, Springfield’s Joe Cochran (220 pounds) is one of two undefeated wrestlers in the field. The Wildcat senior is 26-0.
In D-II, the area has two of the four unbeaten wrestlers.
Graham’s Rocky Jordan, looking for his third state title, is 34-0 at 170 while Valley View’s Stone Day is 31-0 at 195.
There are four unbeaten wrestlers in the D-III field with just one from the area.
Legacy Christian’s Tommy Hoskins is 12-0 after being hampered by injury. The Oklahoma signee is shooting for his fourth state title.
National Trail’s Peyton Lane somehow enters the Division III district tournament under the radar.
The four-time Illinois junior high state champ was undefeated as a freshman before missing the end of the season with an injury.
As a sophomore, all Lane has done is compile a 28-1 mark that includes a 1-0 win over Graham’s Isaiah Stickley in the finals at Valley View.
Lane is also a two-way starter for National Trail’s football team and was an All-Cross County Conference selection in baseball as a shortstop and pitcher.
The tightest team race may be at Hobart Arena. It will be a wild four-team race for the title.
Versailles leads the qualifiers with 11 while Miami East advanced 10, Covington nine and defending district champ Mechanicsburg seven.
Urbana, which made its first run to the regional semis in the team tournament, continues to have a strong season.
The Hillclimbers advanced five to the district tournament out of the Graham sectional.
Even better, three of the five are underclassmen and will return with that experience for the future of the program.
Linked by a title
Hoskins could be joined as a four-time state champ by David Carr in Columbus.
Carr, who has signed with Iowa State, is now at Massillon Perry, but won his first two state titles with Hoskins at Dayton Christian.
As freshmen, Hoskins and Carr were part of the team that captured the state title under Ted Bray.
Division I wrestling will be held at Trent Arena, D-II at Wilmington High School and D-III will be at Hobart Arena.
Wrestling begins at 3 p.m. at Hobart and Wilmington and 4 p.m. at Fairmont today and continues at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Finals are slated to begin 45 minutes following the last consolation match at Hobart and Wilmington and at 6 p.m. at Fairmont.