For Owens, Hahn, expectations were high at state meet

J. Patrick Eaken

Now that everyone knows that Eastwood has quality underclassmen who can wrestle, it does not help that they did not get a chance to prove themselves at the state meet.
Eastwood had a trio of Division III state qualifiers — junior Brandon Hahn (48-2), sophomore Gavin Owens (45-7) and junior Jimmy Recknagel (40-11).
However, this year there was no state meet because the Ohio High School Athletic Association “postponed indefinitely” the state wrestling tournament because of the Coronavirus COVID-19.
“They obviously felt disappointed. They all looked forward to it,” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said. “Obviously, I had a feeling it was coming but I tried to act like we couldn’t control it. We don’t want to get mad about something we can’t control. But the only good thing, all three of them have a chance to come back next year because they are all underclassmen.
“For guys like Owens and Hahn, their whole season is the state tournament. They’re quality guys and a lot of guys are happy to make it. Recknagel is super happy that he made it for the first time and that was a great accomplishment for him because he’s put in a lot of weight loss, a lot of work to make weight all the time — it’s been a struggle all year. But it was good for him just to go, but for Owens and Hahn everyone expected them to be there.”
Hahn, who won a league, sectional and district championship, admits, “I’ve got one more year to win a state title, sadly, but I’ll take what I can get.” He also excelled at top D-III tournaments hosted by Van Buren and Lima Central Catholic.
During the state tournament last year as a freshman, Owens took second place at 106 pounds and Hahn, a sophomore, placed fourth at the D-III state tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“We knew before the season he was a good wrestler,” Wyant said of Owens. “He was third in the state in junior high last year. He beat two very quality kids at a tournament we went to near Akron early this season. He’s had a great season. He doesn’t get nervous, and he’s been in so many matches...He was smiling before the start of the tournament. Nothing ever bothers him.”
Owens faced Delta sophomore Zack Mattin in the 106-pound finals and lost an 8-1 decision. It was a rare loss for Owens, who finished with a 47-3 record. Mattin, who also beat Owens, 6-3, in the district finals, placed seventh at 106 at the 2018 state meet.
“It was cool,” Owens said of taking second. “I got farther than I expected. I thought I was going to lose in the quarters. I wrestled someone (Covington sophomore Kellan Anderson) who already beat me (5-0) midway through the season.”
This year at 120, Owens advanced to state after finishing as district runner-up, losing in the championship, 6-3, to Otsego senior Jake Manley (47-0), who was his nemesis all year. Owens was hoping to get another shot at Manley at state.
“A lot of people wouldn’t realize it, but he had seven losses, but one loss was to a match to a predicted state champ, then he had five losses to the Otsego kid (Manley) and Manley is really good. So, he lost to some great guys. He had a great season. He only lost to really quality guys — mainly Manley. He had a pretty good season other than those two guys. He jumped up two weight classes from where he was.”
Hahn won a 126-pound district title this year after defeating Antwerp senior Randall Mills (36-8) by a 17-1 technical fall.
“He always had that dream (state championship),” Wyant said. “Last year he was a little disappointed — he took fourth and he was hoping to be at least second, but (then-Genoa senior Oscar) Sanchez was the only guy who beat him last year. Hahn had two losses this year — one was to the Manley kid, who beat him 1-0, and then he had one other loss to a guy from Allen East in the finals of the Lima Central Catholic tournament.”
Recknagel advanced after finishing fourth, losing 10-5 to Mohawk senior Morgan Price (45-9) in the 152 pound consolation final.
Earlier this season, Eastwood qualified to the D-III state duals team tournament with one solid wrestler at nearly every weight class, but not a lot of depth beyond that. Hahn says the team got better as the season wore on.
“We have a couple good ones on our team, but obviously with good wrestlers you have other wrestlers wrestling good wrestlers like me, Gavin Owens, or other state qualifier Jimmy Recknagel, and Bryce Maynard — when you start wrestling these good wrestlers, you all combined and you learn how to do different things. You build a better team around good wrestlers,” Hahn said.
(— includes quotes from last year’s state tournament story by Press contributing writer Mark Griffin)

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