State Wrestling Tournament Notebook: Semifinal session doesn’t disappoint


St. Edward senior Jamie Clark goes for his third state title Saturday. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

The state wrestling tournament rewards the moment. Saturday, Tucker
Armstrong hopes to conquer it. Friday, Armstrong and several other standout wrestlers earned their shots at state titles after a stunning semifinal session that set the pairings for Saturday’s state championships. One more day remains…

The state wrestling tournament rewards the moment. Saturday, Tucker Armstrong hopes to conquer it.

Friday night in Columbus, Armstrong – and other wrestlers – earned their shot at state titles by winning semifinal matches during Session 3 of the state championships at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. A crowd of 12,721 watched the state’s finest wrestlers battle for podium spots and no one went away disappointed. Saturday they won’t be either.

Armstrong’s Division II championship bout at 140 pounds is sure to be one most everyone circles.

His foe? Defending state champion and Graham sophomore Felipe Martinez.

Armstrong is a former Graham state champion himself. Talk about drama.

This is the sixth match-up between the two this year and all five prior bouts went to Martinez, including three by a point. Armstrong hasn’t lost to any one else.

“I’m just going to go out and hit all the stuff I know how to do,” Armstrong said. “The last couple matches I’ve just been kind of feeling him out since I knew we’d wrestle a lot. This time I’m going to open it up. If I lose so be it. But I’m going to lay it all out.”

This is the fourth straight Saturday the duo will face off.

Martinez won previously in the finals of the Central Buckeye Conference, Tipp City Sectional and Goshen District finals.

Now they meet for all the marbles.

“It’s my last shot,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been here before and won a title already so I’m not in awe. I just want to knock it out. This one counts. You remember state.”

You also remember the past – and Armstrong and Graham have one.

As a sophomore, Armstrong won the D-II 125 title as a Falcon. After a year away in California, he came back to Ohio and is now a Cougar. He hopes to be a two-time state champion Saturday as well.

“It would mean a little more (to beat Martinez) since (Graham is) No. 1 in the country,” Armstrong said. “I used to go there. I want to beat them. Let’s do it.”

Last year Graham broke a 58-year old record by producing seven individual state champions. Saturday the Falcons try to make it eight.

The nation’s No. 1 team, Graham has already wrapped up its 10th straight D-II team title (and 12th overall) with 185 points, so the only thing left to chase is history – and the Falcons do that better than anyone.

Graham’s finalists – and all have a legitimate shot at winning – are Ryan Taylor (So., 103), Nick Brascetta (jr., 119), Bo Jordan (fr., 130), Issac Jordan (so., 135), Martinez (so. 140), Kyle Ryan (jr., 160), Huston Evans (so., 171) and Max Thomusseit (sr., 189).

It should be noted that Bo Jordan’s semifinal win was arguably the tournament’s most impressive Friday. Despite being a freshman, Jordan ousted Ironman champion and undefeated Nick Skonieczny of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 3-1. The victory made Bob Pruesse of the Amateur Wrestling News declare Jordan possibly “the best freshman in the country.”

Graham almost had nine wrestlers in the finals, but junior Matt Stephens was DQ’d in the 145 semis for an illegal slam.

In 2008 and 2004 a record total of six wrestlers captured either their third or fourth state titles. Never have seven done it.

Saturday they could.

Seven wrestlers entered this year’s tournament looking to win their third or fourth state titles and all seven advanced to the finals. Their resumes say they’ll do well there.

Here’s who can help create history Saturday:

Logan Stieber, Monroeville, D-III, 125: The senior and Ohio State recruit looks to become the 19th wrestler in state history to win four state titles. Odds are overwhelming he will. Stieber enters the state final riding a state-record string of 178 straight wins and will face Miami East’s Zane Goldberg in the 125 final.

Harrison Hightower, University School, D-II, 152: Hightower, a senior, won previous titles at 130 and 140. At 42-2, Hightower goes against Oak Harbor’s Konner Witt in the final.

Cam Tessari, Monroeville, D-III, 140: The junior won previous titles at 112 and 130. He’s 52-0 and faces Van Buren’s Chad Sonnenberg in the final.

Hunter Stieber, Monroeville, D-III, 119: Stieber won a previous championship at 103 and is going for his second straight at 119. A junior, Stieber takes a 40-1 record into the final against Galion Northmor’s Tyler Meninger.

Chris Phillips, Monroeville, D-III, 171: The junior is 40-0 this year and going for his third straight title at 171. Phillips faces a solid foe in Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Alex Utley in the final.

Jamie Clark, St. Edward, D-I, 130: Clark is in his fourth state championship match and looking for his third title. After placing second as a freshman at 103, he’s rattled off back-to-back wins at 112 and 119. Clark (15-2) squares off against Elyria’s Kodie Egnor in the final.

Ty Mitch, Aurora, D-II, 119: Mitch will place for the fourth time and as a senior is looking to add a 119 title to a collection that already includes championships at 103 and 112. Mitch, 41-4 this year, has the most difficult job of any of the wrestlers attempting to become a three-time champ. He has to face Graham’s Brascetta. This duo has history, with Brascetta having beaten Mitch the last two times they wrestled to even their head-to-head record at 2-2.

Mantua Crestwood senior Paige Nemec became the first girl in history to wrestle – and win – at the state wrestling championships on Thursday when she competed in the 103-pound weight class in Division II. Nemec lost her first match to Olentangy’s Trevor Fiorucci 8-0, but she rebounded to win her first bout in the consolation round. On Friday, Nemec was ousted (3-1 decision) in the second round of consolation action by Mentor Lake Catholic sophomore Sean Fee. Fee beat Nemec 6-1 in the third place match at last week’s Akron Firestone District.

Nemec finished the season 34-11 and won five tournament titles this year. Her career record was 115-34. She was recognized before the start of Session 3.

Nemec is the cousin of former three-time D-I state champion and current Ohio State wrestler Sean Nemec (St. Edward).

Heading into Session 3, Wadsworth held a 2.5-point advantage on St. Edward (78-75.5) in the D-I team standings. After it, the Grizzlies were in front 150-142.5. Expect this race to come down to the wire.

St. Ed’s has won 13 straight D-I state titles, but No. 14 is in jeopardy. The Eagles advanced six wrestlers to finals and so did Wadsworth.

Two key matches will be the 135 and 145 finals where the teams have head-to-head matches.

The tough thing for St. Ed’s? The Eagles had two wrestlers lose in the semifinals in extra periods. What would those points have done?

After Session 2, Monroeville led Bedford St. Peter Chanel 44.5-38.5 in the D-III team race. Heading into Saturday, the Eagles are up on the Firebirds by 41 now. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy is the new No. 2 and 32 points behind.

It looks as if Monroeville will finally get a team title to go with all its individual gold. Last year the Eagles were second by a point.

In 1981 the Centerville trio of Dave Wilkerson (sixth), Jim Engle
(fourth) and Dave White (fourth) become the first – and only – threesome
in school history to place at the state meet. Saturday, Nick Miller,
Kyle Rose and Brian Mathews will tie them.

Miller is in the D-I
189 final, while Rose follows shortly after with a chance to win the D-I
title at 215. Mathews will place at 152.

Miller has twice
finished sixth at state, while Rose was fifth last year. They are trying
to become Centerville’s first state champions since Jim Pearson’s 155
title in 1985. Centerville has three total state wrestling champions.

In the D-III 285 quarterfinals, two-time state placer Tyler Obringer of Spencerville pinned Ashland Crestview’s Clint Endicott in 16 seconds.

8:00 a.m.   Ticket Office Opens
9:00 a.m.   Doors open.
10:00 a.m. Session Number 4 (Consolations) begins: 9 mats
10:00 a.m. Divisions I, II and III Consolations Semifinals
11:00 a.m. All Third, Fifth and Seventh place matches wrestled concurrently.
4:15 p.m.   Doors open.
5:15 p.m.   Hall of Fame Ceremonies
5:30 p.m.   Session Number 5 (All Finals) begins: 3 mats
5:30 p.m.   Parade of Champions
5:45 p.m.   Divisions I, II and III First Place matches wrestled concurrently




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