Beaver wrestler misses out on title

West Branch senior Neil Ginnetti (top) takes on Hamilton Ross senior Logan Iams in the Division II 182-pound seventh-place match Saturday.

COLUMBUS — He was so close — again.

Beaver Local junior standout Cole McComas, who is nearly impossible to score points on, wrestled a sterling defensive match against Louisville’s Davin Rhoads in their Division II 126-pound state title bout at the Schottenstein Center on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, McComas came up just a single point shy, dropping a tough 3-2 decision to Rhoads in a bout in which points were nearly impossible to come by.

“It was just two really good competitors who compete hard and it was a great opportunity to battle,” said Beaver Local coach Jordan Williams. “It didn’t go our way but not too many kids get an opportunity to wrestle on this big stage.”

“It’s been a very long season for him, he’s worked extremely hard after the elbow injury,” said Beaver Local assistant coach John McComas, Cole’s older brother. “At the beginning of the season he had to take a lot of time off, miss a lot of practices and miss some matches. We’re proud of everything he’s done, he did everything possible to stay in shape and do everything he could with the injury to come here and compete. It hurts to come this far, after facing so much adversity, too.”

He came up just short of becoming the first Columbiana County state wrestling champion since 2002, when Beaver Local’s Adam Hoppel won the Division II 215-pound weight class.

Despite the tough setback, McComas joined an elite class of Beaver wrestlers to gain three high placements at state. He finished second in the Division II 106-pound class in 2017 and second in the Division II 113-pound division last season.

“We’ve had some people that have been three-time finalists and he’s definitely at an elite level, but that’s because he works hard and puts in a whole lot of time to reach his goals,” said Williams. “When you work as hard as he does to reach his potential, you can live with the results, and Cole works his tail off.”

McComas entered the match with a 43-7 record while Rhoads was 40-10, and both wrestlers who are members of the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League, pride themselves on not surrendering points. And their title match played out that way.

The match was 0-0 late in the first period when Rhoads, a sophomore, went for a takedown against McComas who dropped to a full split at the edge of the mat and got out of the possible two-point move. The match remained scoreless after the first period.

Again, McComas twisted out of another possible takedown move by Rhoads in the second frame, sending the match to a third and deciding period still deadlocked at 0-0.

With McComas in the top position entering the third period, he let Rhoads up for an escape point at the 1:57 mark as the Leopard matman took a 1-0 lead. The score remained that way until the closing 30 seconds. Running out of time, McComas tried to get an advantage but was taken down at the edge of the mat as Rhoads took a 3-0 lead with just 23 seconds left. McComas then escaped with 13 seconds left to close the gap to 3-1 and Rhoads was hit with stalling at the buzzer as he was backing away from McComas, narrowing the final deficit to 3-2.

The two wrestlers met one other time this season and it was another low-scoring battle with McComas capturing a 4-3 verdict over Rhoads at the Brecksville tournament.

“He beats Rhoads (4-3) at Brecksville early this year, it was a close match then and this match was similar and he just wasn’t able to get to his legs this time,” said John McComas. “Rhoads is a very good upper body wrestler and he won Fargo and Greco and he kept Cole in those positions where he’s great and that’s what hurt us tonight.”

Williams knows Cole McComas will do the things it takes to have another shot at a state title next season.

“Cole is a kid who works hard and he’s going to continue to work hard to reach his goals,” said Williams. “Absolutely (he will come back with extra motivation next year) and that’s the nice thing about wrestling, there’s always going to be another opportunity to come back and reach your greatest potential.”

The Beavers return 10 starters next season and should one of the top Division II teams in Ohio once again.

“We have a nice young team that likes to compete and a lot of them got a taste of this (state) atmosphere and I think that’s going to pay off down the road,” said Williams.