Today we begin our look at the 2007-08 Ohio high school wrestling season. We kick off our preview with a look at Division I and will follow that Wednesday with D-II and Thursday with D-III.
Lakewood St. Edward again is the creme of the crop in Ohio's big school division. The Eagles are going for their 12th straight state title and 24th overall. Can anyone stop them? Read on…
The Division I crop boasts some big names at the lower weights. Ohio finished with five of the nation’s top 10 wrestlers in the 103-pound weight class (as ranked by wrestling411usa.com), three of them in Division I. Those three are state champion Sam White (jr., No. 4 nationally) of Massillon Perry; runner-up Jamie Clark (soph., No. 5 nationally) of Lakewood St. Edward, who lost a 3-2 overtime decision to White in the finals; and sophomore Jerome Robinson of Cleveland St. Ignatius, a third-place finisher.
The 112-pound weight class also featured a nationally-ranked underclassman in junior Kyle Lang (No. 9 nationally) of Brecksville-Broadview Heights. But Lang finished third at 112, while sophomore Nick Sulzer of Lakewood St. Edward captured second place. Both will be formidable this year. Also back will be seventh-place finisher and 2006 103-pound champ Steve Mitcheff of Elyria.
An interesting story unfolded at 119, where two-time runner up and projected champ Ryan Fields of West Chester Lakota West fell in the finals in overtime to unbeaten Brad Squire of Wadsworth. Not only did Squire, a freshman at the time, accomplish the rare feat of an unbeaten (34-0) state championship freshman season, but he dealt Fields his third straight second-place finish. Fields, a senior this season, will be trying to avoid being a four-time runner-up while Squire will be out for an encore. Another name to watch from last year’s 119 crop is Cincinnati Elder senior Tommy Pretty, a third-place finisher.
The 125-pound class was the home of one of Ohio’s most well-known names in Lakewood St. Edward star Collin Palmer, who won his second consecutive state title after winning at 112 in 2006. Palmer, now a junior, was rated in the top 10 nationally in his weight class and will be once again in 2007 as he continues on a path to join brother Lance as a four-time state champion. Two-time third place finisher Seth Horner (jr., third at 112 in 2006) of Massillon Perry is another strong competitor to come out of last year’s 125 class.
Two of last year’s high placers at 130 return in third-place winner Joe Parra (jr.) of Barberton and senior Neil Birt of St. Edward, who finished fourth.
The 135-pound class hosted two outstanding junior wrestlers who will be aiming to go out on top as seniors. Tony Jameson of Austintown-Fitch, a national top-10 wrestler at the 135-pound class, will be attempting to join the list of Ohio’s all-time elite as he shoots for his fourth straight state championship. Jameson (44-1) won at 135 after wins at 103 and 119 as a freshman and sophomore. The runner-up in 135, senior Richie Spicel of Brunswick, lost his only match of the year (43-1) in the finals to Jameson after finishing first at 130 as a sophomore. Both will be among Division I’s top competitors.
The middle weight classes saw two three-time champions finish their careers with titles in Solon’s Kevin Hardy (145) and St. Edward’s Sean Nemec (160) along with two-time champ Thomas Straughn (152) of Massillon Perry. Among the placers from those classes who will be back looking for a crown in 2008 are Jesse Dong of Westerville North (Sr., 49-3, 145 runner-up) and Chris Klein of Westerville North (sr., 152 fourth).
Only one returning state champion remains – senior Brian Roddy of Lakewood St. Edward. Roddy (38-1) finished first at 171 after a second-place finish in 2006. He could be among the top-rated wrestlers in the country at his weight class this year. Others to watch from the higher weight classes include Barberton senior Adam Cogar (runner-up at 215), Cincinnati Elder junior Orlando Scales (3rd at 215) two-time placer Andrew Tumlin of Harrison (jr., fifth at 215).
From a team perspective, there might be nothing easier to predict in the entire world than who is going to win the team title in Division I. Lakewood St. Edward captured their 11th straight state title in 2007 and their 23rd overall, setting two state records with 14 qualifiers and 229 team points. The Eagles may not put up such a mighty showing this year, but no one expects to see a change at the top. On the strength of returning standouts such as Palmer, Roddy, Clark, Sulzer, and Britt, along with returning qualifiers in senior Clarence Semple and junior Andrew Gasber, St. Edward will most likely add another title to their long list. Runner-up Cincinnati Moeller returns five state qualifiers while third-place finisher Massillon Perry returns three.