COLUMBUS — When wrestling at the Division I state tournament, it’s best to put the binoculars down and look at the bracket with fresh eyes.
Sneak a peek ahead and you’re probably looking up at the lights in a failed effort to win a state title.
Brunswick’s Logan Heil (132 pounds) joined the Wadsworth six of Mason Brugh (106), Landen Hacker (120), Luke Baughman (138), Michael North (145), Dom Loparo (160) and Jon List (170) for the quarterfinals today after winning their respective first-round matches.
All seven had a chance to look ahead Thursday evening but chose not to knowing how squirrely the tournament can be.
Hacker, who placed seventh last season, is a testament to that.
While outsiders drooled over the possibility of the sophomore meeting returning state champion Lucas Byrd of Cincinnati LaSalle in a semifinal tonight, Hacker knocked off Toledo Whitmer’s Jason Cascadden and immediately started thinking about Cincinnati Princeton’s Josue Dawson.
Let the others think about a possible semifinal with Byrd, the Lancers’ three-time state placer. Hacker was more concerned with the here and now.
“If you lose the match (this) morning, there won’t be any semifinals,” Hacker said. “I only can control what’s in front of me. It’s easy to look ahead and get off track. If you work hard, stay focused and do your things, success will come your way.”
Heil has had a ton of success on the mats of Value City Arena. Now in his fourth appearance, the two-time state placer seems destined for a semifinal against two-time state placer Dylan Shawver of Elyria.
Shawver, the returning state runner-up, owns 6-3 and 7-5 wins over Heil this season, but Heil knows if he wants revenge, a win over LaSalle’s Antoine Allen must happen first.
“You have to take it one day at a time,” Heil said. “I can’t overlook anybody. I know if I overlook somebody, it’ll put me in a bad position before that match.”
“I have to make sure that I’m wrestling the way I should wrestle against every opponent,” Heil added. “I can’t change my style in those matches in order to succeed.”
North knows a semifinal against St. Edward two-time state and Junior Freestyle national champion Bryce Andonian is what the crowd wants.
For now, he’s concentrating on LaSalle’s Darnai Heard in the quarterfinals.
“I have to take it one match at a time,” said North, a Maryland recruit. “I can’t look ahead of anyone, because it could be anyone’s day.
“I try not to look at the bracket very often. I focus on who is in front of me. The pressure is off given that I’m already committed to a Big Ten school. I don’t have to impress anyone. It’s just for me.”
Loparo, who is making his second trip to Columbus, has a quarterfinal against Westlake’s Liam Kruger before a likely semifinal match with projected champion Connor Brady of Olentangy Liberty.
Loparo knows Centerville state-placer Drew Wiechers was looking ahead of Kruger and was pinned in 2:28.
“It’s so easy to overlook kids,” Loparo said. “Crazy stuff happens at ‘The Schott.’ I have to stay really relaxed. If you get too antsy, you start gassing and get worried. You see really good kids losing to kids that weren’t ranked as high or projected to place.”
Like Loparo, List is also a returning state qualifier. The sophomore is in the round of eight against Liberty state and national freestyle champion Carson Kharchla.
“Everyone is the same at this tournament,” he said. “Everyone is 0-0. Records don’t matter here. I’m going into it like I go into every match. It’s a new day, a new match. I just need to keep my momentum rolling and see what happens.”