COLUMBUS -- The last day of one's high-school career can be an emotional time, especially if it happens at the state wrestling meet.
Three Portage County wrestlers were able to take third place at states, including Aurora High's Jarrod Brezovec, who rebounded from his semifinal loss to take third in Division I at 132 pounds.
Blinking back tears, Brezovec said it was "very important" for him to rebound after taking sixth place last year. "It shows character that I came back," he said. "I wanted to get down here to win, but this shows the world keeps turning."
Brezovec scored a couple of dominant wins to take third. He defeated Brecksville's Marco Regalbuto 10-4 in the consolation semifinals, then won 9-0 over Wadsworth's Luke Baughman in the third-place match.
"It's pretty tough," said Aurora coach Johnny Papesh, who was emotional himself. "I've been with [Brezovec] since the seventh grade. He came down here with only one place in mind."
Meanwhile, Aurora 220-pounder Bubba Arslanian ended up in sixth place. He had a rematch with Mansfield's Brett Myers in the consolation semifinals after Myers beat him 3-2 in the first round.
It was another close one, but Arslanian tweaked his knee during the match and lost 2-1.
"Bubba's knee is really hurting him," Papesh said. "He powered through. Most kids would have stopped after they hurt it at the Suburban League meet."
Papesh said Arslanian might need surgery. Thus, Arslanian defaulted his fifth-place match with North Canton Hoover's Dillon Smith and took sixth.
The second day of the tourney was difficult for Aurora, largely because the Greenmen kept running into Lakewood St. Edward.
"It seems like we're seeing St. Edward everywhere," said Papesh. "They're in our division, though, so we've got to beat them."
It started with a close win for Brezovec, as he squeezed out a 1-0 win over Miamisburg's Elijah Perkins.
"That was just the way the Miamisburg kid was wrestling," said Papesh. "He was trying to keep it close and look for something big at the end."
For the second straight year, however, Brezovec's state-title dreams ended in the semifinals. Facing former state champion Allan Hart of St. Edward, Brezovec suffered a 2-1 loss.
The Friday morning session was brutal for the Greenmen.
First, 120-pounder Jack Gorman was pinned in 3:05 by defending state champion Bryce Andonian of St. Edward in the quarterfinals. Gorman then was pinned in 3:48 and eliminated by Fairfield's Jabari Thomas in the consolations.
"It was a tough loss," Papesh said. "It's a tough weight class. Jarrod moved up to 120 two years ago and lost. Hopefully, Jack reacts the same way Jarrod did."
At 106 pounds, Kyle Petersen was eliminated with a 7-2 loss to St. Edward's Angelo Rini.
Arslanian was able to close the morning session on a high note, beating Cincinnati Northwest's Michael Cater 5-0 to earn his second sraight All-Ohio spot.
"He looked a lot better today," Papesh said. "The pressure is off now. Yesterday was the first time he ever showed nervousness."
Arslanian stayed on track for that goal, as he scored a 3-2 win over Dublin Scioto's Brian Zimmerman in the evening session to advance to the consolation semifinals.
On the opening day of action, Brezovec was in top form, as he scored an 18-0 technical fall over Elyria's Matt Zukerman.
In a battle of All-Ohioans in the first round, Gorman went to overtime with Clayton Northmont's Chad Craft. Gorman got the decisive takedown in overtime to win 9-7. "He had to dig deep," said Papesh. "Jack wrestled like an All-Ohioan."
However, it was a bad case of deja vu for Arslanian, who lost his opening-round match for the second straight year, this time 3-2 to Mansfield's Brandon Myers. "They had a good game plan to slow him down," Papesh said.
Arslanian rebounded with a 3-2 win over Hilliard Darby's Jacob Cover.
Peterson showed some first-match jitters in a 3-0 loss to Mason's Pacey Najdusak. He came back in the consolation with a 3-1 win over Perrysburg's Richardo Oviedo.
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