By Ben Robinson
COLUMBUS — Ryan Ford made wrestling history on Friday as he became the first Covington wrestler to record 200 career wins – a milestone reached when he defeated Roostown’s Brandon Huffman 11-4 in the 138-pound quarterfinals of the state wrestling tournament.
But for Ford, who has been as focused as ever, the 200 career wins was the last thing on his mind. “Was it 200?,” asked Ford when mentioned of the milestone.
“I actually forgot about it. I guess it feels good that it happened here (at state), but really, I’m more focused on other things right now.”
And that’s taking advantage of his final opportunity at state, which he has done to this point in recording a combined 12 takedowns in two matches without surrendering a single offensive point. Every point given up by Ford has been an escape point when he elected to let his man up so he could wrestle from his feet. It’s an aggressive strategy, one he learned from a mistake a year ago when he lost his opening match at state only to battle all the way back for third.
“Last year, mentally I wasn’t as focused and probably took it for granted because I placed third the year before,” Ford explained. “I had a big lead in that match and stopped being aggressive. It cost me and I’ve learned from it.” Ford also learned from a mistake he made at the district meet when he took an unnecessary chance and was caught on his back. “Looking back, that was probably a good thing because it refocused me,” he explained. “I learned that anyone can beat anyone on any given day and you have to be focused and ready to wrestle every time out.”
In his milestone quarterfinal win, Ford recorded five takedowns and a second period escape for a dominating 11-4 win. “Ryan is really focused right now,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee. “There’s no hesitation in his wrestling. He’s more assertive, more determined this year. He knows this is his last go-around.”
Ford then faced Dustin Marteney of Delta (31-5) in the semifinal — a familiar foe who he has seen twice before in his career.
“I beat him at state my sophomore year and he beat me at the Disney Duals, so we’ve wrestled before,” Ford said. And both wrestlers knew what the other was going to do and it was a matter of who could work their own stuff.
Unfortunately for Ford, Marteney was able to stop Ford’s aggressive shots and eventually capitalized with a takedown of his own with 18 seconds left in the first period. Marteney then scored three back points on a tilt for a stunning 5-0 lead after one. “You can’t give up five points in the last eighteen seconds of a period,” said Ford. “It’s hard to come back from that.”
Ford tried as he recorded a takedown of his one with two seconds left in the second period to close the gap to 6-2 after surrendering an escape point early in the frame. But Marteney locked up the match with three more back points on another tilt in the third period.
“I knew he wanted to stop my shot and work the tilt,” Ford explained. “I just didn’t stop it.” Barbee felt the final 18 seconds of the first period was the difference in the match. “The big thing was giving up the five points at the end of the first period,” Barbee stated. “At this level, it’s really hard to come back from that.”
Even with the defeat, Barbee feels his wrestler will come back even stronger tomorrow.
“He’s always been able to respond,” he said. “This one may be a little harder, but Ryan will refocus and get back at it tomorrow.”
Magee finishes at state
For Covington senior Brandon Magee, his outstanding wrestling career ended with a loss to Madison Jaso of Gibsonburg in the second round of consolations.
In the match, Magee found himself facing an 8-1 deficit into the final period and went from broke with an attempted throw. Jaso caught Magee and was able to record the pin.
“When you’re down, may as well go for something big,” said Magee afterward. “I went out trying.”
Which is something that made Barbee very proud.
“He gave his all and that’s all you can ask,” said Barbee. “I’m proud of him. He’s faced so much adversity in his life to see him finish his wrestling career here is very rewarding.”
For Magee, failing to finish on the podium was disappointing, but he won’t let that define his wrestling career or state experience. “I wanted on the podium, but I’m enjoying everything about this,” he said. “It’s not just wrestling here – it’s being with my coaches and some of my teammates out doing some things around Columbus that I’ll probably remember the most.”
The wrestling experience has been a rewarding one for Magee as he wasn’t expected to be in the field of 16 at 182 pounds. That’s because he came to Columbus as an alternate and was inserted into the tournament at the weigh-ins due to another wrestler failing to pass the skin check.
“That was crazy, Magee said. “When we saw my name inserted into the bracket all I could think was that my brother had something to do with it. He’s with me every day and I’m going to get a tattoo in honor of him.”
Magee’s brother passed away from cancer during Brandon’s junior season, which made it difficult for him to stay focused. “He passed away right before Christmas and I really wasn’t focused at all last year,” Magee explained. “But I decided that everything I do in my senior year is also for him.”
With a senior year in which Magee was an All-Ohio selection as a football player and where he just finished with a 38-10 record after winning a match at the state wrestling meet, he now looks forward to track season in hopes of earning another state medal. And you can bet his brother will have something to do with that as well.
Wrestling resumes for Ford at 10:00am in the consolation semifinal.