COLUMBUS — Aurora spent the last two years at the state wresting tournament banging heads with the big boys of Division I.
Aurora coach Johnny Papesh said his team got a special boost as it returned to the Division II state tournament Thursday. Longtime coach Dick Bliss surprised the Greenmen by coming up from Florida for the tournament.
With the man affectionately known as "Barney Rubble" cheering the Greenmen on, Aurora rumbled its way through day one at state, finishing 5-0 in the first round.
Aurora sits tied for sixth with Circleville in the Division II team race after with 12.5 points. Defending champion St. Paris Graham already leads with 40.5 points.
Papesh was all smiles after the first round.
"It was a very, very good day for us," Papesh said. "I told them not to look past the first round and just wrestle. We had a lot guys step up today."
Seed-wise, Aurora 120-pounder Kyle Petersen had the toughest assignment, as he faced a top seed in Wauseon’s Alex Slattman. Petersen showed off his riding skills, as he got the early lead and rode Slattman out for 5-2 win.
Papesh said he was "worried" about 132-pounder Jack Gorman’s match with Lisbon Beaver’s Skyler Lasure. The match went to overtime, but Gorman was able to get behind Lasure in the sudden victory period to score the takedown and a 6-4 win.
At 138 pounds, Andy Garr returned to the state meet after a year’s absence with a 10-1 win over Benjamin Logan’s Cole Houser.
At 152 pounds, Will McGhee was up to his old tricks against Lisbon Beaver’s Jared Wright. McGhee hit four tilts on his way to a 15-0 technical fall.
At 195 pounds, Colin McNamara completed the sweep for Aurora with a 7-2 decision over River Valley’s Carter Layten.
Wrestling resume Friday at 10 a.m.