JJHuddle Wrestling Preview: A look at the state’s top teams and storylines

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Can Wadsworth and junior Nick Tavanello repeat as state champions?

As the wrestling season prepares to hit the mat this weekend, here is
a glimpse of some of the storylines and teams to watch. Can Wadsworth repeat in D-I? Can Graham win its third national championship in four years? Will a new coach at Troy Christian get the same results? That and more…


As the wrestling season prepares to hit the mat this weekend, here is
a glimpse of some of the story lines to watch.

In Division I, Wadsworth ended Lakewood St. Edward’s reign at the state
tournament, and returns a strong nucleus in an attempt to defend its
title.

In Division II, who will be able to pose a challenge to Graham? The
Falcons won the state title last season by almost 200 points en route to
claiming their second national championship… and are loaded again this
year.

In Division III, who will come out on top? Can new Troy Christian
coach Ty Morgan rebuild an Eagle team depleted by graduation?

Here is how things could shape up.

Division
I

Wadsworth – The Grizz return seven state qualifiers,
including champ Nick Tavanello and runner-up Kagan Squire.

Last season, they had enough in the upper weights to hold off St. Edward
after finishing second at the district tournament.

The question is, will their depth help them retain the title belt?

Lakewood St. Edward – It has been a long time since the
Eagles were looking to get back on top.

However, they do return state champ Dean Heil at one end of the line up
and state placer Greg Kuhar anchoring the upper weights. In between St.
Ed has have five other returning state qualifiers, which will help it
challenge Wadsworth.

Massillon Perry – Perry placed three on the podium at the
state tournament and has six returning state qualifiers.

While it may get the numbers back to state, Perry will need to get
quality with their quantity.

Moeller – Moeller returns three state qualifiers from last
season, and could be the best chance from Southwest Ohio to crack into
the upper echelon.

However, the Crusaders will face a challenge from Elder to be the
best of the Queen City.

Brecksville Broadview Heights – Three returning qualifiers
and a returning placer are back in the stable, but the Bees may need
more power to finish in the top 5 on the big stage.

Division
II

Graham  – Duh. Graham has won 10 straight Division II
state titles including a ridiculous 2010 performance where it outscored
the second place team by 160 points en route to claiming its second
National Championship in three years.

The Falcons return eight state placers, including champions Ryan Taylor,
Bo Jordan, Isaac Jordan and Huston Evans. Add in newcomers Rusty
Maness and Case Garrison – and another Jordan, Micah (119) – and the
Falcons could be looking at placing 13 on the podium in Columbus. And,
don’t be surprised if they don’t put double digits on the top step –
and challenge the 300-point mark.

The Falcons will face a stern test on the national level from Apple
Valley and Blair Academy (who they travel to this year) in their pursuit
of back-to-back national titles.

Oak Harbor – The Rockets were the closest challenger to the
Falcons last season, and should be this year as well.

They return Ian Miller, who could throw a wrench into Graham’s gold
medal run, as well as two other placers and four qualifiers.

Probably going to be a race for second, but the Rockets seem to be
the best shot to be in the mix.

Lexington – OK, so they return just three state qualifiers,
but all of them found their way onto the podium last season.

If the trio can find a way to move up the ladder, and Lexington can
find some depth at the state tournament, they could make a run at the
Rockets.

Wapakoneta – Wapak returns three state qualifiers, two of
which found the podium. The big gun is returning state champ Logan Erb.

Parma Padua Franciscan – PPF also returns three state
qualifiers, including a pair of placers. However, all its points from
Columbus coming back are in the lower weights.

Division
III

Bedford St. Peter Chanel – For three years, Troy Christian
won state titles by getting the most out of their qualifiers…not a lot
of for sure golds, but a lot of the bonus points along the line.
Chanel could follow that blue print to the state title this season.

The Firebirds return seven state qualifiers, including one placer,
who could help chip their way to the top of the big board.

Monroeville – Big points abound.

With Monroeville, you know what you are getting with Chris Phillips,
Hunter Stieber and Cam Tessari…state titles. Each one is going for their fourth state championship and barring a huge upset, will get it.

However, how the other two returning qualifiers – Cal Clark and Brent
Wilken – fare at the state tournament will be key in determining if
the Eagles can stay at the top of the team race, or find themselves resting in the top
three.

CVCA – Much like Monroeville, they have strength in
numbers.

With three returning state placers out of the quartet they took to
the state tournament last season, they should make some noise again.

Much like the other teams in the top 3, they will need to get the
bonus points and a win or two along the way from those who don’t reach
the podium.

Dixie – The Greyhounds replace Troy Christian as the team
to beat out of Southwest Ohio.

Dixie returns the excellent Ethan Hayes – looking for his second
state title – as well as two other state placers. Add in one more with
experience, plus the experience they will gain with a beefed up
schedule, and the Greyhounds could challenge for the title.

North Jackson Jackson-Milton – With two returning state
placers amid a trio of qualifiers, the Jays could make a run for things
with some depth at the state level.

Again, they will have to get numbers to Columbus and get points from
everyone to make a run at the title.

Released Tuesday: Top Wrestlers

Coming Thursday: JJHuddle
Preseason Wrestling Power Poll

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