BELLBROOK — A quirk in the system worked in the benefit of Bellbrook freshman Minh Le during the Division II sectional wrestling tournament held at Clinton Massie High School on Saturday.
During the event, Le became one of five wrestlers for the Golden Eagles advancing to districts after top-four finishes in their weight classes. Unlike his teammates, and the vast majority of anyone else from around the state, Le was able to do so without even winning a match.
The previous night’s draw to set up the bracket by tournament organizers provided Le an automatic route to qualification due to the low number of entrees in his weight class and a bit of luck in where he was slotted.
“I was like shocked that I got in automatically for districts,” Le said, who didn’t realize he was in the situation until a teammate pointed out the oddity to him. “I didn’t know what was so special about it until they told me I was going to move on and I was just like, ‘what, really?’ So I was just shocked.”
Without a visualization aid, it may be tough to follow how Le made it. Here goes our best shot.
Although there were 12 schools assigned to the sectional, Bellbrook was only one of five which had a grappler enter in the 120-pound division.
With five wrestlers competing, that meant the smallest bracket format which could be set up was for eight competitors. Three of the entrees received byes into the semifinals, while the remaining two would square off in a quarterfinal match.
Le was slotted into one of those bye positions and was also placed on the side of the bracket connected to the lone quarterfinal matchup. In his semifinal match, Le wound up facing the top-seed, Noah Moreland of Butler, and ended up being pinned.
Consolation bracket placement is set up to remove the potential for rematches until as late as possible in the competition. As a semifinalist, Le was supposed to face a wrestler which lost a quarterfinal match from the opposite side of the draw.
However, the opposite portion did not have a quarterfinal match take place. Under the format of the tournament, that meant another bye was given to Le and automatic advancement into the match for determining the third place overall finisher.
Le went on to face Wilmington’s Ethan Bates, who had also lost against Moreland in the quarterfinals and suffered another defeat via pin. The individual which loses that match is designated as finishing in fourth place, thus Le still earned a top-four spot and advancement to districts.
“It’s luck,” he said. “And I’m going to take what I have,”
Despite being happy with becoming a district qualifier, Le said he thought it would have been more fair to his fellow competitors if there had been a set up which ensured someone needed to win at least one match to advance even if he would not have prevailed.
“At first when I learned about it, I was really excited because it was an easy in,” he said. “But then I kind of got a little mad because I don’t feel like I did as much as others and maybe don’t deserve it as much. That’s what I feel like.”
His coach, Bobby Kosins, said when he learned of the situation before the tournament began, he could only smile and be happy for Le and later stressed to him it means he gets to have more fun on the mat this season.
“He’s a fun kid and makes me laugh all the time,” Kosins said. “He’s super upbeat and that’s a good quality in a person. He may not feel like he deserves it, but how many people get to go this far? He should have fun with it.”
Le’s record this season is 2-10 as of the end of sectionals. He may not have many wins, but Kosins said he has shown improvement all season and is part of a young group for the Golden Eagles which has worked hard and been one of the more fun teams Kosins has been able to coach.
“He’s the type of kid where I pat him on the back when we’re going out, we’ll talk about some things he should work on, and then as he walks out I tell him to have fun,” Kosins said. “Sometimes when you’re in a situation you don’t many wins, it can get frustrating. You’ve got to be super positive and just have fun.”
The district tournament will be held at Wilmington High School starting at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Le’s first match will be against Joe Curry of Watterson, who was the sectional champion out of the tournament at Jonathan Alder HS.
This first matchup may be another tall task. And this time Le won’t have the benefit of automatic advancement on his side.
But he has the same opportunity to earn his qualification to state as the other 15 wrestlers in his weight class, and Le said that makes him happy.
“I’m going to try to take the rest of my season as the most fun as I can have,” he said.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.