Kirtland senior Louka Babic extended his season by another week after finishing as the Division III Perry District runner-up on Saturday.
Babic finished 3-1 at 175 pounds to punch his ticket to the OHSAA state championships next weekend in Columbus.
“It’s a big relief,” Babic said. “Winning that semifinals match, that was big. That was the goal the whole time, just to get down to states, and to know that I secured my spot down there is definitely a big weight off my shoulders.”
Babic opened the tournament on Friday with a 38-second pin and then fought off of his back in the closing seconds of his quarterfinal match to win 15-8. He controlled that bout but was caught on his back late in the third period.
The 13th-ranked wrestler in the state then clinched his state berth with a 1-0 win over No. 14 Wyatt Morris of Saline Southern.
“I try not to think too much about it,” Babic said of the pressure in a close match. “This is a match just like any other and I wanted to get to the finals. That’s what I was thinking the whole way through. I was able to pull through.”
After the first period ended scoreless, Morris chose to start the second period in the down position. Babic rode him out for the entire two minutes.
“I heard from people he was going to explode really hard right off the whistle and I was just preparing for that,” Babic said. “It worked out and I was able to hold on knowing what to expect and to be able to put that extra bit of pressure on him and being careful when he was trying to work on the bottom.”
Babic started down in the third period and recorded an escape to win the match.
He then closed out the tournament with a 6-5 setback to Northwestern’s Collin Good in the championship bout.
Babic now has just a few days to mentally and physically prepare for the biggest tournament of his career.
He’s excited about the opportunity ahead of him and plans to do everything he can to stand on the podium at the end of the night.
“It’s my senior year, so I’m trying not to leave anything on the plate,” he said. “I’m trying to work on what I learned from this last tournament and work on those finer points and get my technique down so I can go into states as prepared as ever.”