Moises Lopez didn’t expect to win the district title last weekend.
Today he’ll compete in the Division III state finals at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
After winning his opening bout in convincing fashion Thursday, a pin over Northmor’s Kyle Johnson, Lopez (195) posted a 5-3 decision over Waynedale’s Tristan Anderson in the quarterfinals to guarantee a podium finish.
In Friday night’s semifinals, Lopez pinned Orwell Gran Valley senior Glenn Zaller to book his ticket in the championship match.
“I didn’t think I would get district champion, but I thought I would make state,” Lopez said. “Being a district champ and coming down to state for the first time, it feels great, it really does. Today’s my mom’s birthday and I wanted to try to win it for her. I wrote her name on my hand to look at during my match.”
In the semifinal match, Lopez was tied 5-5 with Zaller before flipping him, resulting in the pin.
“I wrestled the head down, I always wrestle the head down,” he said. “I used the under hook to flip him over, and that’s all I do is just wrestle the head. It feels wonderful. I’ve been wrestling three years and being in the state finals my senior year, one last go, what a way to end it. First or second baby, first or second.”
It could have taken a while for Lopez to realize the significance of his win, but the senior was instantly overwhelmed with emotion.
“I feel the excitement. It’s hit me,” he said. “Winning the sectional, winning the district, I didn’t feel nothing. Right now, I feel everything.”
Teammate Major Moore lost a close match in his semifinal.
Moore (132) fell 7-6 to Chaminade Julienne’s Lyle Plummer.
Also in Div. III, Edison’s Evan Cheek, the projected state champion at 120, fell 3-1 to Troy Christian’s Garrett Hancock, the defending state champion. With the win, Hancock is expected to defend his title.
“He knew what I was going to do and I knew what he was going to do, so it came back to who could score in the last 30 seconds,” Cheek said. “I really didn’t get that upset after that match because I came out with a game plan. He stalled and I just couldn’t score. It’s all right, I wasn’t too upset with myself.”
Cheek then beat Sandy Valley’s Joe Newman on a 10-1 major decision.
“I definitely want to redeem myself from earlier today,” Cheek said. “It’s really the same mentality. Someone who could have been in the finals could have lost like me, so you have to go out there like everyone was hoping for the state finals.”
Edison coach Davy Hermes was impressed, but not surprised by Cheek’s composure.
“He’s a great kid and I wouldn’t expect anything different,” Hermes said “You don’t want to say he froze up, but he didn’t wrestle the match he needed to to win. The things that we worked on all week he didn’t do and against a great kid, you have to be perfect.
“But you have to stay positive,” Hermes added. “It’d be easy to be down on him and get negative, but the state meet is a crazy place and you can’t always control what happens. He’s doing a nice job coming back and hopefully he can get third. That’ll put him in a good position coming into next year.”
Charger freshman Brady Barnett (113) beat Bishop Harley junior Kris Hill in the quarterfinals, but fell out of his semifinal match on a 5-0 decision to Dayton Christian’s Christian Clary.
“He’s been wrestling great since about the SBC tournament,” Hermes said. “He is starting to believe in himself, believe in his offense. Hopefully he can come back. He’s got a bright future ahead. I think he proved he can do well under the bright lights.”
Barnett will take on Troy Christian’s Michael Sergent today to keep his third-place hopes alive.
For a freshman, Hermes has been extremely impressed with Barnett’s confidence.
“That is a coach's dream because a lot of freshmen don’t have that confidence, especially in the state tournament,” he said. “Not only is he wrestling juniors and seniors, but he’s wrestling the best in the state. A lot of freshmen get down here and think it’s OK to go 0-2 because they’ve got three more years. I think Brady grasped the opportunity and really ran with it.”