SPARTA — It wasn’t the fairytale ending Ethan Turnbaugh was hoping for, but Ontario’s junior 160-pounder was able to find the silver lining after Sunday’s 8-4 loss to Licking Valley’s Dylan Dodson in the Division II state finals at Highland High School.
“I’m a junior and the first person in 22 years from Ontario to be in the state finals,” Turnbaugh said shortly after the setback. “It feels pretty good even though I didn’t get the win. It’s all about the experience.
"Plus, I’ve still got next year.”
Turnbaugh (35-2) was one of two area wrestlers to reach Sunday’s semifinal round. He beat Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Austin Pownall 7-1 during the morning session to advance to the championship match.
In the finals, Turnbaugh trailed 5-4 heading into the third period. He kicked Dodson out to make it 6-4 before being taken down late for the final margin.
“I knew I needed to be solid on neutral to stay in the match with him, which I was until roughly 45 seconds (remained) and I was put on my back,” Turnbaugh said. “I just couldn’t come back from that. That’s where everything went south. As soon as I got put on my back, there was no coming back.
“I tried my best, I just couldn’t. He’s a tough kid.”
Turnbaugh beat Dodson earlier in the season at the Findlay Duals. It was one of only two losses for Dodson (45-2).
“Dodson was just the better wrestler today,” Turnbaugh said. “We’ve wrestled twice now. I won the first time and he won the second time. I can’t be mad at it.
“We’re right there with each other. It’s 50-50 either way.”
Rather than dwell on Sunday’s loss, Turnbaugh plans to learn from it.
“I need to be (more solid) because I was thrown on my back,” Turnbaugh said. “I’ve just got to hold my ground better.”