If Warren's Brandon Pahl is fortunate enough to advance to the Wilmington Division II district championships final in the 285-pound weight division this Saturday, he's probably going to consider himself an underdog in the title bout.
That's a good thing.
Especially, if the junior Warrior standout's opponent will be Sheridan junior heavyweight favorite Evan Loughman.
Warren heavyweight Brandon Pahl has the upper hand in a Division II sectional wrestling match at Alexander last weekend. Pahl is one of five Warrior district qualifiers who will be competing at Wilmington Friday and Saturday.
Twice this winter, Pahl has suffered one-point decision setbacks to Loughman, first 7-6 in the McDonald's Miami Trace Invitational on Jan. 25 and most recently in a rematch at the Alexander sectional tournament championships last Saturday. In the latter battle, Pahl lost 8-7 and finished runner-up in the event.
"Everyone in the place (Alexander) was watching the heavyweight match," said Warren head wrestling coach Mike Pahl. "It was a great match. I was pretty nervous.
"Brandon had him (Loughman) on his back twice on the out-of-bounds line. And, that kid had Brandon once, too, but he rolled out of it."
No question about it, Brandon Pahl definitely would like another crack on the mat against the Generals' 2013 state qualifier, who was ranked No. 4 in the state earlier this season. The Warren grappler would like to prove that it really is difficult to defeat an opponent three times in less than a month.
"Brandon wants him pretty bad," Mike Pahl said. "If he meets him in the (district) final, he's going to have to be aggressive and attack him.
"There's a lot of mental stuff in wrestling, and if Brandon can beat him, I don't think that kid will ever beat him again."
As it looks now, each is in separate brackets with Brandon Pahl owning a 43-4 overall record and Loughman 48-3. No other grappler in that district's weight class is even close record-wise, so the twosome could be on another collision course. If that does occur, both will qualify for state, and be competing at Value City Arena, Jerome Schottenstein Center, on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus Feb. 27-28 and March 1.
But nothing is guaranteed, and each will need to take care of business beforehand at the district event, which gets underway at 2:40 p.m. Friday and continues at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"There's about five or six good heavyweights, and it's going to be a pretty tough weight class," Mike Pahl said.
In opening bouts, Brandon Pahl is scheduled to wrestle McClain senior and sectional third-placer Dylan Trefz (33-9), while Loughman will be squaring off against Unioto sophomore Hunter Whiteside (29-14).
"I think Brandon will be OK in his first match," Mike Pahl said. "It gets tougher in his second one, though, if he faces (Gavin) Peacock (of Ross). Last year, he beat Brandon at district, but Brandon had an injured shoulder. Brandon's feeling much better this year."
Brandon Pahl will have company at the Wilmington district in Warrior teammates' Levi Congleton (113, 33-2), freshman Casey Parsons (145, 42-8), senior Austin Klintworth (152, 39-11), and Chris Massey (220, 24-16).
Congleton, a 106 state qualifier as a sophomore last year, was an Alexander sectional runner-up, and will be facing No. 3 sophomore Jacob Boldman (37-10) of Wilmington.
"Levi's been pretty banged up," Mike Pahl said. "If he's 100 percent, he'll be OK."
Then, it'll be No. 4 Parsons vs. No. 1 senior Sterling Briggs (18-15) of Goshen; No. 3 Klintworth vs. No. 2 junior Corey Williams (35-7) of Greenon; and No. 4 Massey vs. No. 1 junior Darnay Foley (39-1) of Batavia.
"Austin and Casey probably shouldn't have lost their first match at sectional, but they both came back (to qualify for district)," Pahl said. "Austin's never out of it. He's liable to pull anything to get back in a match.
"Chris has a tough first-match (at district)."
Also, at Wilmington, Bill Heldman-coached Marietta will have two sectional champions on the mats - senior Jake Dickson (152, 29-10) and junior Garrett Davis (170, 39-7).
Dickson is slated to open up against No. 4 sophomore Jake Badgley (31-14) of McClain, while Davis will be paired up against No. 4 senior Alex Logsdon (22-14) of Talawanda.