The high school wrestling season in Ohio is just under way and that can only mean one thing – time for the Walsh Ironman wrestling invitational at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls.
Comparable to NASCAR by having such a marquee event at the beginning of the season, the Ironman is arguably the nation’s top high school wrestling tournament. It’s the Daytona 500 for those who wear a singlet.
Starting today, 59 high schools will have teams/individuals in the tourney and 16 states will be represented.
Included in the mix are all three defending Ohio state champions: Lakewood St. Edward (Division I), St. Paris Graham (D-II) and Troy Christian (D-III).
National powers Blair Academy (N.J.), Montini Catholic (Ill.), Christiansburg (Va.) and Glenbard North (Ill.) are also in the mix.
Traditionally the event has been dominated by two teams – St. Edward and Blair. Those two have combined to win every title since host Walsh Jesuit won the initial championship in 1994.
Blair is a seven-time winner, while St. Edward owns four championships, including last year’s.
WRESTLERS YOU NEED TO NOW
David Taylor, Jr., Graham: There has never been a four-time individual Ironman champion, but six wrestlers have won it three times. Taylor is attempting to become the seventh. A two-time state champion at 103, Taylor won his previous Ironman titles at the same weight. Pound for pound, he’s possibly the country’s best prep wrestler – and he’s got one more year.
Garrett Goebel, Sr., Montini Catholic (Ill.): Ohio State football fans will want to familiarize themselves with Goebel who has committed to play for the Buckeyes next season. The defensive tackle doubles as a star wrestler. He is the defending Ironman champion at 285 and was runner-up in 2005. He’s also a three-time state placer in Illinois and was state champion last season. Amatuerwrestlingnews.com ranks Goebel the No. 3 heavyweight in the country.
Tony Ramos, Jr., Glenbard North (Ill.): Defending Illinois state champion and 2006 Ironman champion at 112. Wrestling 125 in 2007.
Mario Mason, Sr., Blair Academy (N.J.): Senior has done it all…junior national champion, cadet national champion, New Jersey state champion (twice), Ironman champion and Beast of the East champion. Ranked No. 1 nationally.
Alex Meade, Caesar Rodney (Del.): Senior was undefeated last season (39-0) and is defending Ironman champion (145). Also has state, cadet national and Beast of the East titles to his credit. Wrestling 152.
Collin Palmer, Jr., St. Edward: Two-time state champion is No. 2 seed at 135 and looking for his first Ironman title after second and third place finishes. Palmer’s only loss of the season last year came at the Ironman.
Brian Roddy, Sr., St. Edward: Senior is looking for his first Ironman title after second and third place finishes. Already owns a state title and is a three-time state placer. Wrestling 171.
Eric Cubberly, Sr., Pemberville Eastwood: Defending Ohio D-II state champion at 152 and three-time state placer. No. 1 seed at 160 is getting first taste of Ironman.
TEAMS OF NOTE
Lakewood St. Edward: Eagles are 11-time defending D-I Ohio state champions and looking for 24th state title overall this season.
St. Paris Graham: Falcons are D-II’s dominant team, having won nine state titles. Falcons have finished third at Ironman three straight years (behind St. Edward and Blair). Is it their turn?
Blair Academy (N.J.): Besides St. Edward, probably the most recognizable program nationwide in regards to prep wrestling. Consistently among the country’s best teams.
Troy Christian: Eagles are defending D-III state champion.
Montini Catholic (Ill.): Defending Class AA Illinois state champion.
Christiansburg (Va.): Defending Class AA Virginia state champion.
KEY POTENTIAL MATCH-UPS
No. 1 (seed) Logan Stieber (Monroeville, so.) vs No. 2 Ben Sergent (Troy Christian, sr.): Both are defending D-III state champions. Stieber won title at 103, while Sergent, who is headed to Central Michigan, won 112 championship. Stieber’s only prep loss to date was against Graham’s Taylor in last year’s Ironman finals.
No. 1 Colin Johnston (Canon-McMillan, Pa., sr.) vs No. 2 Collin Palmer (St. Edward, jr.,): Potential meeting of nation’s No. 1 (Johnston) and No. 2 (Palmer) wrestlers at this weight class according to amatuerwrestlingnews.com. Also a rematch from last year’s Ironman quarterfinal that Johnston won 5-1. That was Palmer’s only loss all season.
No. 1 Mario Mason (Blair, N.J., sr.) vs No. 2 Ben Jordan (Graham, sr.): Mason is the defending Ironman champion at 140, while Jordan is looking for his first Ironman title after two runner-up finishes. Should these two tangle, it's doubtful another mat all weekend will feature such a credential-heavy match. Mason is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country at this weight according to amatuerwrestlingnews.com. Jordan is No. 10.
No. 1 Alex Meade (Caesar Rodney, Del., sr.) vs No. 2 Coby Boyd (Graham, Sr.): Possible rematch of last year’s Ironman 145 final which Meade won 6-4. Both are defending state champions as well and ranked in the top five nationally by amatuerwrestlingnews.com. Meade is no. 3, and Boyd No. 5.