NORWALK — The road to Columbus was a little less hazardous for Ashland’s Case George.
A junior, George won a championship at 120 pounds and the Arrows finished fourth in the team standings at the Division II district wrestling tournament Saturday at Norwalk High School.
Ashland dropped from Division I to Division II this year and George, who was a Division I state qualifier at 120 last year, rumbled into the finals with a pair of pins and a tech fall. He beat Bellevue’s Jayden Mayes 6-3 in the finals.
“The depth is so much different,” George said of the difference between the Division I and Division II district tournaments. “Last year I had to pull off a lot of upsets to make it out. This year, it’s never a given, but you have a better feeling.”
George (38-9) will be joined in Columbus by three of his teammates. Jayden Jones finished third at 145, while John Metzger was fourth at 152 and Jakob Beverly was fourth at 182.
The area’s only other district champ was Madison’s Nate Barrett at 160. The junior pinned Wauseon’s Jarrett Bischoff in 1:35 in the finals.
For Barrett and teammate Trenton Osborne, the path to the state wrestling meet began on Madison youth basketball courts. Both Barrett and Osborne, who punched his ticket to Columbus with a third-place finish at 170, knew early on their futures lied somewhere other than the hardwood.
“I fouled out of every game,” Barrett said. “That’s not a joke.”
Neither was his performance at the district tournament. He overcame a midseason injury to record a pair of tech falls and two pins in four matches.
“The last time I lost would be the semifinals of the Gorman,” Barrett said. “The week after the Gorman I got hurt and I was out for like four weeks.”
Osborne was every bit as impressive. His only loss came in Friday’s quarterfinals to Norwalk’s Ethan Hernndez, the projected state champ. Hernandez beat Osborne 3-1, but Osborne bounced back with four wins Saturday.
Ontario will send three wrestlers to Columbus. Ethan Turnbaugh (152) and Cody Mies (195) were district runners-up, while Colton Turnbaugh (145) placed fourth.
Clear Fork’s Isaiah Thomas was third at 126 and Mansfield Senior’s Josh Lyons finished second at 132. Lyons fell to Firelands’ Payton Burgdorf 10-3 in the finals.
“I’m pretty pumped for state but it kind of sucks losing at districts,” said Lyons, a two-time state qualifier. “I knew I was already in so all the stress was already out.”
Crestview's Caden Hill won the 285-pound title at the Napoleon district. The top-ranked Hill pinned Swanton's Brodie Stevens in the finals.