Covington’s Ryan Ford closed out his career as a three-time state placer.

Covington senior Ryan Ford capped an impressive high school career as a three-time state qualifier and three-time state placer after finishing fourth at 138 pounds. Brandon Magee was able to compete as an alternate after another wrestler failed skin check and he performed well by advancing to the second day of the tournament.

COLUMBUS – There is a look in Ryan Ford’s eyes – a look of purpose, focus and determination at the 79th Annual OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament in the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.

It’s a look Ford (45-6) has had since he was stunned a week ago with a loss at the district tournament due to taking a chance he didn’t have to take.

Focused and purposeful, Ford has been dominant ever since and carried that aggressiveness into his opening round match at state against Galion Northmor’s Jake Farley (21-8).

The Buccaneer senior, who is looking to finish atop the podium after finishing third at state the past two years, waisted little time taking control on Thursday by recording three first period takedowns for a 6-2 lead.

Ford chose bottom to start the second period and immediately recorded an escape point and another takedown to push his lead to 9-2.

Knowing he could control the match on his feel, Ford elected to surrender a third escape point to his opponent before taking Farley down in the final seconds of the frame for an 11-3 lead.

Farley chose bottom to start the fourth period, but Ford elected to surrender yet another escape point and then immediately scored his sixth takedown of the match for a 13-4 lead.

One final escape point was surrendered by Ford and then the Buccaneer senior closed out the match with his seventh takedown and a 15-5 win.

Ford looks to keep his momentum rolling tomorrow morning as he takes on Brandon Huffman (24-13) of Rootstown in the 138 pound quarterfinals.

“Ryan looked good,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee. “He’s focused and ready to take the next step tomorrow. One match at a time.”

For senior Brandon Magee, having the opportunity to compete at state was something he didn’t expect after finishing the district meet as an alternate.

But Magee was inserted into the 182 pound bracket thanks to another wrestler failing to pass the skin test prior to weight-ins.

“If you could pick one kid to get a second chance (at state), it would be him,” said Barbee. “He’s a great young man and for him to have an opportunity to finish his career here (at state) is great to see.”

With little time to prepare mentally due to his unexpected entry into the tournament, Magee dropped his opening match to Gaige Willis of Andover Pymatuning Valley by the score of 9-1.

He rebounded, however, in the first consolation round with a second period pin of Jeremy Bresciani of Coshocton.

“To come here as an alternate and get in, that’s never happened with a Covington wrestler,” said Magee. “Then to come over here and win a match, it was an awesome feeling. I can’t even describe it.”

Seeing Magee receive the opportunity to wrestle at state after placing fifth at districts, many may feel he backed into the opportunity.

Barbee doesn’t see it that way.

“He won a match and that shows he belongs here,” Barbee said. “It doesn’t matter how he got here – he’s here and doing very well.”

Wrestling resumes tomorrow morning at 10:00am.

COLUMBUS – Ryan Ford made wrestling history on Friday as he became the first Covington wrestler to record 200 career wins – a milestone reached when he defeated Roostown’s Brandon Huffman 11-4 in the 138-pound quarterfinals of the state wrestling tournament.

But for Ford, who has been as focused as ever, the 200 career wins was the last thing on his mind.

“Was it 200?,” asked Ford when mentioned of the milestone. “I actually forgot about it. I guess it feels good that it happened here (at state), but really, I’m more focused on other things right now.”

And that’s taking advantage of his final opportunity at state, which he has done to this point in recording a combined 12 takedowns in two matches without surrendering a single offensive point. Every point given up by Ford has been an escape point when he elected to let his man up so he could wrestle from his feet.

It’s an aggressive strategy, one he learned from a mistake a year ago when he lost his opening match at state only to battle all the way back for third.

“Last year, mentally I wasn’t as focused and probably took it for granted because I placed third the year before,” Ford explained. “I had a big lead in that match and stopped being aggressive. It cost me and I’ve learned from it.”

Ford also learned from a mistake he made at the district meet when he took an unnecessary chance and was caught on his back.

“Looking back, that was probably a good thing because it refocused me,” he explained. “I learned that anyone can beat anyone on any given day and you have to be focused and ready to wrestle every time out.”

In his milestone quarterfinal win, Ford recorded five takedowns and a second period escape for a dominating 11-4 win.

“Ryan is really focused right now,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee. “There’s no hesitation in his wrestling. He’s more assertive, more determined this year. He knows this is his last go-around.”

He will face Dustin Marteney of Delta (30-5) in the semifinals later tonight.

Brandon Magee locks up a pin a state.

COLUMBUS – For Covington senior Brandon Magee, his outstanding wrestling career ended with a loss to Madison Jaso of Gibsonburg in the second round of consolations.

In the match, Magee found himself facing an 8-1 deficit into the final period and went from broke with an attempted throw. Jaso caught Magee and was able to record the pin.

“When you’re down, may as well go for something big,” said Magee afterward. “I went out trying.”

Which is something that made Barbee very proud.

“He gave his all and that’s all you can ask,” said Barbee. “I’m proud of him. He’s faced so much adversity in his life to see him finish his wrestling career here is very rewarding.”

For Magee, failing to finish on the podium was disappointing, but he won’t let that define his wrestling career or state experience.

“I wanted on the podium, but I’m enjoying everything about this,” he said. “It’s not just wrestling here – it’s being with my coaches and some of my teammates out doing some things around Columbus that I’ll probably remember the most.”

The wrestling experience has been a rewarding one for Magee as he wasn’t expected to be in the field of 16 at 182 pounds.

That’s because he came to Columbus as an alternate and was inserted into the tournament at the weigh-ins due to another wrestler failing to pass the skin check.

“That was crazy, Magee said. “When we saw my name inserted into the bracket all I could think was that my brother had something to do with it. He’s with me every day and I’m going to get a tattoo in honor of him.”

Magee’s brother passed away from cancer during Brandon’s junior season, which made it difficult for him to stay focused.

“He passed away right before Christmas and I really wasn’t focused at all last year,” Magee explained. “But I decided that everything I do in my senior year is also for him.”

With a senior year in which Magee was an All-Ohio selection as a football player and where he just finished with a 38-10 record after winning a match at the state wrestling meet, he now looks forward to track season in hopes of earning another state medal.

And you can bet his brother will have something to do with that as well.

Ryan Ford tries to turn his opponent during the state tournament.

COLUMBUS – With a spot in the 138 pound championship match on the line, Ryan Ford faced Dustin Marteney of Delta (31-5) in the semifinal – a familiar foe who he has seen twice before in his career.

“I beat him at state my sophomore year (8-2) and he beat me at the Disney Duals, so we’ve wrestled before,” Ford said.

And both wrestlers knew what the other was going to do and it was a matter of who could work their own stuff.

Unfortunately for Ford, Marteney was able to stop Ford’s aggressive shots and eventually capitalized with a takedown of his own with 18 seconds left in the first period. Marteney then scored three back points on a tilt for a stunning 5-0 lead after one.

“You can’t give up five points in the last eighteen seconds of a period,” said Ford. “It’s hard to come back from that.”

Ford tried as he recorded a takedown of his one with two seconds left in the second period to close the gap to 6-2 after surrendering an escape point early in the frame.

But Marteney locked up the match with three more back points on another tilt in the third period.

“I knew he wanted to stop my shot and work the tilt,” Ford explained. “I just didn’t stop it.”

Barbee felt the final 18 seconds of the first period was the difference in the match.

“The big thing was giving up the five points at the end of the first period,” Barbee stated. “At this level, it’s really hard to come back from that.”

Even with the defeat, Barbee feels his wrestler will come back even stronger tomorrow.

“He’s always been able to respond,” he said. “This one may be a little harder, but Ryan will refocus and get back at it tomorrow.”

Wrestling resumes for Ford at 10:00am in the consolation semifinal.

COLUMBUS – As bad as he wanted it and as hard as he worked for it, Covington senior Ryan Ford doesn’t need a state championship medal to define him.

“No he doesn’t,” said Covington coach Tom Barbee after Ford came up short in his quest for a state title by finishing fourth at 138 pounds. “What defines Ryan is the type of kid he is. Yes, he’s a great wrestler, but more importantly he is an outstanding student and an unbelievable person. He’s also a great role model for the younger kids in our community.”

Ford’s dream of a state title ended in the semifinals on Friday night, but the Buccaneer senior was able to rebound with a 10-7 win over Smithville’s Riley Smucker in the consolation semifinal. In the match, Ford built a 7-3 lead with three takedowns and an escape, but Smucker battled back to tie the score at 7-7 midway through the third period.

Undeterred, Ford went back to work by recording an escape point and a fourth takedown to advance to the consolation final against Mechanicsburg’s Tanner Smith.

And Ford wrestled like he was on a mission – constantly attacking with shot after shot. Unfortunately, with each shot Ford could’t finish as Smith held him off at the edge of the mat leaving the score tied at 0-0 after one period of action.

Smith won the choice to start the second and chose bottom. Ford elected to surrender the escape point so he could continue his attack from his feet.

And attack Ford did, but Smith was able to catch the Buccaneer wrestler coming in with a pancake to record the pin in stunning fashion.

“Man, Ryan was wrestling so well,” said Covington assistant coach Eric Vanderhorst, shaking his head. “He was attacking and attacking and eventually we thought Ryan was going to break through (with a takedown). Unfortunately, he just got caught by a really good kid.”

Vanderhorst felt four wrestlers were capable of winning the 138 pound weight class.

“You look at one-thirty-eight, there were four wrestlers who we thought could win it,” explained Vanderhorst. “Ryan, Tanner Smith, (Dustin) Marteney of Delta and the Grandview Heights kid (Brendan Fitzgerald). Unfortunately, we came up short.”

Still, by placing fourth, Ford became just the second Covington wrestler in the history of the program to earn three state medals – the other being Andrew Dehart, who was a four-time state placer.

Plus, Ford finished his high school career with a school record 201 career wins.

“Ryan has done a great job,” Barbee praised. “I know he’s extremely disappointed now, but he’ll look back one day and be very proud of what he’s accomplished. We’re definitely proud of him.”

Which is why Ryan Ford doesn’t need a state championship medal around his neck to define him.