Maumee’s Gast Earns Trip To State Wrestling Tournament

Maumee’s Tommy Gast will represent the Panthers in the 126-pound weight class at the Schottenstein Center after placing fourth at last week’s Division II district tournament at Norwalk. MIRROR PHOTO BY JODY SMALLEY

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It’s been a while since Maumee had a wrestler advance to the state tournament in Columbus – five years to be exact.

Senior Tommy Gast has ended that ignominious streak.

Gast will represent the Panthers in the 126-pound weight class at the Schottenstein Center after placing fourth at last week’s Division II district tournament at Norwalk.

Wrestling begins on Friday at the state tournament with the championship preliminaries and the first round of the consolation bracket.

“I’m staying focused and hopeful for what still can be,” Gast said. “Anything is possible and I’m hoping to place in state.

“I made it here and I might as well go all the way, put everything I have into it.”

Gast won five of his seven matches at the district tournament. He won his first match before falling in the championship bracket quarterfinals. Gast then won three straight matches by a total count of 23-11 to make it to the consolation bracket championship, where he lost to Clear Fork’s Peyton Hoskins for the second time in the tournament.

“The ability has always been there, it was getting him to believe in the coaches and himself,” said Maumee coach Brian Buck of Gast. “It was also about finding what moves work for Tommy. 

“Early in his career, he used his double leg shot to beat people; now as a senior, it’s his ability to score off opponents shots. He can shoot when he wants, but his go-to move would be the front head.

“I also believe Tommy being able to wrestle Coach Schneider and Coach Haas this year has had a big impact on him. They show him the little things that help him win matches. Also, Tommy is always in great shape, strong, quick and has a motor.”

Gast was one of six wrestlers from Maumee to advance to the district tournament. He was joined by freshman Blake Smith (113-pound weight class), sophomores Zayvion Bradley (120), Bryson Bonds-Crawford (144) and Kamari Braswell (190) and junior Ramsey Quinn (285).

While the other five Panthers wrestlers lost both of their matches, having six wrestlers appear in the district brackets was a strong sign for the health of the Maumee wrestling program.

According to Buck, the difference has been “hard work and repetition.”

“When I took over, we changed some things from what (coach Ken) Walczak was doing and what I wanted to do, so they were learning a new system last year,” Buck said. “This year, they came in and had a better understanding of what to expect.

“I get it, a takedown is a takedown, but it’s the words you use and the approach is different. We structured practice to be hard and challenging, we expected more.

“The sport of wrestling is about self-motivation and the determining factor on your success is what you do to better yourself. I would say that toward the end of the season the kids started to see some success and started working harder. Winning is fun.

“I also think having young coaches in the room who can wrestle the kids was a huge help this year. I would love to wrestle the kids but don’t think my new titanium knee would appreciate it.”

Gast has overcome an injury to his right hand, suffered late in the season, but in a sport like wrestling, it’s expected for an athlete to fight through injuries, bumps and bruises through the long season.

“Injuries flooded the postseason, but as soon as I got in my matches, I was so focused and filled with adrenaline that they left my mind,” Gast said. “After my matches, I definitely felt it, but by the time I got to my next match, it would leave my head.”

He credits a tough schedule this season, particularly facing a grueling Northern Lakes League schedule and non-league matches against Swanton and Oregon, among others, for helping him prepare for this postseason run.

“I had previously already seen the best, so I knew what I was going into,” Gast said. “There were no surprises when it came to each and every match, knowing it would be a long fight to the end.

“What got me through it all was my will to keep going, no matter what.”

Gast enters the state tournament with a 40-12 record this season. He’ll be the first Maumee wrestler to appear at the state tournament since 2018.

“My hopes are to win and place,” Buck said. “The atmosphere is like no other tournament and sometimes kids become a deer in headlights, but having been there as a coach you can prepare your wrestler for what to expect.

“Those who make it are the best in Ohio, and so each kid is good – just look at the records of the kids who qualified. You’re not going to have an easy match, all matches are going to be challenging, so the focus is to wrestle each match like it’s your last, and take one person at a time.”

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