Recap and observations from the 71st annual state wrestling meet


Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy and the Eagles captured their second straight state title

Some observations from the 71st State Wrestling Championships that wrapped Saturday night before nearly 15,000 people (14,924 to be exact) at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

Graham is “great,” Monroeville is scary, Troy Christian is a quick learner and everyone loves a Buckeye…right?

Some observations from the 71st State Wrestling Championships that wrapped Saturday night before nearly 15,000 people (14,924 to be exact) at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

* I recently wrote an article that appears in the new issue of Ohio High Magazine that states that this year’s Graham wrestling team might be one of the greatest “teams” ever in Ohio High School history regardless of sport.

Graham, a Division II school from rural Champaign County that trains Rocky-style, will win its first national championship thanks to claiming its eighth straight D-II state title on Saturday. The “greatest” tag I said could be reinforced at the state meet with two feats: breaking the overall team record of 229 points set by St. Edward last year, and breaking the individual state title record of six set by Cleveland West in 1951. Graham did neither.

But…consider this – the Falcons advanced 10 wrestlers to the semifinals, six to the finals and had four individual champs. They also scored 221.5 points, which is the second highest tally in history, and won the state title by 140.5 points over second place Oak Harbor. That margin of victory is the largest in state history regardless of division.

My argument and assessment still stands.

* Monroeville may or may not win a state team title in the next three years, but something the Eagles can do that would be even more memorable is to have four four-time state champs including three who could achieve the feat at the state meet in 2011.

This year Monroeville had four wrestlers qualify for state and all four won titles, including freshmen Hunter Stieber, Cam Tessari and Chris Phillips (who Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy called a “freak” in a “good way”). Sophomore Logan Steiber won his second state title.

The way that the Monroeville quartet dominated the competition was undeniably impressive. In 16 state bouts, the Eagles won 10 by pin, four by tech fall, one by major decision and one by decision (Tessari’s finals match). The foursome’s overall record this season was 192-3. Look out.

* The largest ovation of the weekend was for Hillsboro senior Dustin Carter who went 1-2 in his first state meet. Carter, who lost his limbs to a rare blood disease at age 5, received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes when his story was retold prior to the semifinals on Friday night.

The second largest ovation was for Austintown-Fitch senior Tony Jameson who became just the 16th wrester in history to win four state titles.

The third largest ovation was for Oak Harbor’s Kirk Tank who got revenge on heavily favored Graham senior Coby Boyd in the D-II 152 final. Make of that what you will. One observer said Boyd was the “best wrestler in the tournament pound-for-pound.” My vote for that honor goes to Graham’s David Taylor.

* It’s amazing to me where Troy Christian has come in such a short time. A program in just its eighth year, TC has two state titles and was runner-up in 2006. Obviously much of the credit goes to Goudy who has been the head coach for the last seven years. Goudy had six wrestlers on the entire team when he took over. Saturday he had eight wrestlers place at state and four win titles.

* The crowd loves a Buckeye. Just like last year when Millersburg West Holmes senior and Ohio State recruit Curt Sponseller did the “O-H” gesture after winning the state title, Jameson, who is also headed to OSU, paid homage to the Buckeyes this year after winning. Jameson hugged his coach and then took an Ohio State flag and held it over his head like he was an Olympic champion. He circled the mat to cheers.

* And even though the attendance numbers for the state finals and the five total sessions were down this year (lowest since the meet moved to the Schott in 1998), there’s no doubt where wrestling stands in the consciousness of Ohio high school sports fans. Only football and boys basketball can rival the numbers wrestling generates at a state championship level.

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