Ohio Lowedown: Wrestling guru Josh Lowe joins JJHuddle, Offers thoughts on upcoming Season

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Josh Lowe is currently a national high school wrestling analyst for InterMatWrestle.com and was named the 2013 OHSWCA Media Service Award winner. JJHuddle.com is proud to announce he covers wrestling for us as well. Today we introduce a new column by Lowe that will appear weekly. The topic? High school wrestling. The writer? One of the sports best. Today we welcome Josh to the roster.

Ohio Lowedown

By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)

2013-14 Ohio HS Wrestling Season Primer

Thirty-nine weeks. Where have they gone? This Friday is the official start date for the Ohio High School Wrestling regular season. Come Saturday it will have been thirty-nine weeks since 42 individuals and three teams were crowned state champions at The Schott. A lot has happened since then. And yet…a lot remains the same.

That‘s where our preview of the 2013-14 high school wrestling season in Ohio starts.

During the dynastic run for St. Edward (won 16 of the last 17 D-I state titles – all but three via a 50-plus point gap), there of course was the 2010 title that Wadsworth won by 4-1/2 points over St. Edward. The exceptions to the state tournament romps came in 1999 and 2009, with each title won by just over 20 points, as well as last year.

The 2013 Division I state tournament was a four-team battle between St. Edward, Massillon Perry, Brecksville and Cincinnati Moeller. Those four teams were separated by 23 points at tournament’s end, and the gap was even closer (12-1/2 points between first and fourth) after the Friday night semifinal session. This coming year’s state tournaments – both dual meet and individual – should come down to those four teams yet again.

JJH-LoweHowever, St. Edward will not enter as the preseason favorites. In fact only two Eagles wrestlers will even enter the season ranked as high as third in their respective weight class (L.J. Bentley at 113 and Parker Knapp at 220). The mantle of favorite is held by Massillon Perry, which has been state runners-up the last three years and nine of the last eleven. The Panthers enter the season with three top-ranked wrestlers (Thomas Genetin at 106, Jose Rodriguez at 113, and David Bavery at 126), as well as four others inside the top three (Nick Steed at 145, Casey Sparkman at 152, Isaac Bast at 160, and Tony Dailey at 170).

More than likely the prime challenges to Massillon Perry finally earning the state title in Division I will come from Brecksville and Cincinnati Moeller. Brecksville finished third at state last year, which was their highest finish in program history, and have earned a top ten finish in six of the last seven years. They are led by two-time state runner-up Austin Assad, who enters the season ranked first at 120 pounds; and have six other wrestlers inside the top seven of their respective weight classes (Jarrod Bronstrup at 106, Justin Demicco at 126, Sonny Lucas at 138, Austin Strnad at 152, Troy Lang at 182, and Josh Murphy at 195).

Moeller was fourth in last year’s state tournament, and has finished runners-up three times in program history (2000, 2001, and 2007). The Crusaders have been in the top ten during 13 of the last 14 seasons. This year’s team is led by defending state champions Dakota Sizemore and Chalmer Frueauf, who start the 2013-14 season ranked number one at 182 and 285 respectively; and have five other wrestlers ranked inside the top four (Conner Ziegler at 120, Jacoby Ward at 126, Dean Meyer at 170, Quentin Rosser at 195, and Jerry Thornberry at 220).

When the 2012-13 season came to a conclusion in Division II, it was yet again St. Paris Graham, which ruled the roost. The Falcons had concluded a thirteenth consecutive state championship, and 14th in 16 seasons. Last year’s 68 point margin between first and second was their closest since 2006, when it was a 63-1/2 point gap. Expect some degree of dominance from St. Paris Graham this year, with the dominance only increasing over the next few years.

St. Paris Graham will enter the 2013-14 season with four wrestlers ranked first in their weight classes: Brent Moore at 132, Kyle Lawson at 138, Micah Jordan at 145, and Alex Marinelli at 160. The Falcons also have five others ranked inside the top three: Tanner Smith/Justin Stickley at 106, Eli Stickley at 113, Mario Kastl at 120, Eli Seipel at 126, and Lane Thomas at 182.

Leading the group of teams looking to derail the Falcons from their top spot will be Claymont, which was runners-up in the dual meet tournament to St. Paris Graham, but struggles at the district tournament led them to a fifth place finish at the individual state tournament (three projected state qualifiers – all underclassmen – were unable to make it to the state tournament, two of whom were state alternates). The Mustangs won six matches against the Falcons in a competitive 36-24 loss during the dual meet state final, and return three of four state placers, along with four of their six state qualifiers.

Claymont features two wrestlers ranked first in the preseason rankings, defending state champion Tyler Warner at 106 pounds and returning third placer Dustin Warner at 113. They also have six other wrestlers inside the top twelve (Kollin Clark at 126, Cody Burcher at 138, Cade Herron at 145, Matt Dennis at 182, Colt Crall at 195, and Garrett Harding at 220).

The other primary challengers for the runner-up position will be Perry, who rode a very hot state tournament to a runner-up finish last year, and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. The Pirates return four of their five state qualifiers, who all placed top five, from last year. Defending state champion Billy Miller is ranked first at 285 pounds, while the other three start in the top five of their respective weight classes again (Collin Dees at 120, Aaran Gessic at 132, and Alec Schenk at 170). Three other Perry wrestlers – Brady Toth at 113, Evan Schenk at 152, and Kyle Kremiller at 195 – appear in the rankings.

The Irish, which finished third in the Division II standings, return four state placers from last year of their own for the 2013-14 season. That group is led by defending state champion Aaron Adkins, who is ranked first at 182 pounds to start the season; while those other three placers are ranked in the top six preseason (Garrett Carter at 126, Ryan Skonieczny at 138, and Drek Brumley at 285). Three other SVSM wrestlers – Eli Yoho at 106, John Chell at 120, and Walter Gibson at 132 – are ranked.

In the small-school division (Division III), last year concluded with a split in terms of state champions; Delta won the dual meet tournament, while Troy Christian won the individual tournament by 13 points over Delta. However, it is Dayton Christian, third place finishers in the individual tournament, which will enter as favorites for the individual title this year. The Eagles have three wrestlers ranked first in their respective weight classes to start the season: Hunter Bray at 106 pounds, Christian Clary at 113, and Jacob Danishek at 152; along with four other wrestlers inside the top six (Michael May at 120, Alex Becker at 138, Nick Vestal at 145, and Nathan Jackson at 285).

Second in last year’s individual tournament, and state dual meet champions, Delta is going to be the running neck-and-neck with Dayton Christian in the individual tournament. However, the Panthers will be favorites in the dual meet tournament, due to having greater depth and lineup balance. They don’t have a preseason number one, but do have seven wrestlers ranked inside the top five of their respective weight classes: Drew Mattin at 106, Jake Speiss at 113, Kyle Keller/Noah Mattin at 126, Dustin Marteney at 132, Jesse Beverly at 138, Tyler Fahrer at 160, and Ryan Patchin at 182. In addition, two other Panther wrestlers – Tyler Miller at 170 and Chance Vellor at 285 – are also ranked as state placement contenders.

As one can see, there are many excellent programs within the Buckeye State heading into 2013-14. This is further validated with six teams appearing in the InterMat Fab50 national team rankings: St. Paris Graham leads the way in the sixth position, Massillon Perry is eighth, Brecksville is 12th, Cincinnati Moeller 13th, St. Edward 24th, and Claymont 48th.

However, at its core, wrestling is an individual sport. The one-on-one battles rule the day. Even though most will say that the talent level is slightly down in Ohio this year, there are still two individuals seeking to become four-time state champions: Micah Jordan of St. Paris Graham and Jacob Danishek of Dayton Christian. Should each earn a state title at season’s end, they will become the 26th and 27th such wrestlers in Ohio history. On a historical note, 2014 is the 35th anniversary of Mark Zimmer (Columbus DeSales) becoming the first in Ohio history to win four state titles.

Jordan and Danishek also lead the way among nineteen individuals from Ohio to be ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight classes by InterMat in advance of the 2013-14 season. The pair is second in the country at 145 and 152 pounds respectively, and are ranked 6th and 22nd overall among seniors nationally regardless of weight class.

Other nationally ranked wrestlers in their weight class include:
Tyler Warner (Claymont) – No. 4 at 106 pounds
Jose Rodriguez (Massillon Perry) – No. 3 at 113 pounds
Dustin Warner (Claymont) – No. 8 at 113 pounds
Eli Stickley (St. Paris Graham) – No. 10 at 113 pounds
Austin Assad (Brecksville) – No. 14 at 120 pounds
Anthony Tutolo (Lake Catholic) – No. 14 at 126 pounds
Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham) – No. 5 at 160 pounds
Austin Reese (Mechanicsburg) – No. 15 at 160 pounds
Ben Schram (Bellbrook) – No. 18 at 160 pounds
Ryan Harris (Beachwood) – No. 15 at 170 pounds
Dakota Sizemore (Cincinnati Moeller) – No. 15 at 182 pounds
Travis Linton (Rootstown) – No. 18 at 182 pounds
Kyle Conel (Ashtabula Lakeside) – No. 10 at 195 pounds
Josh Murphy (Brecksville) – No. 17 at 195 pounds
Chalmer Frueauf (Cincinnati Moller) – No. 5 at 285 pounds
Patrick Garren (Bishop Ready) – No. 15 at 285 pounds
Billy Miller (Perry) – No. 17 at 285 pounds

Twenty-one individuals in all will be seeking to win at least a second state title this coming season; eighteen of them are defending state champions, while three won state in 2012 but failed to do so in 2013. Division I features four such individuals (three are defending champions): Jose Rodriguez, David Bavery, Dakota Sizemore, and Chalmer Frueauf; Division II features nine such individuals (eight defending champions): Tyler Warner, Eli Seipel, Cameron Kelly (Bellbrook), Anthony Tutolo, Micah Jordan, Alex Mossing (Toledo Central Catholic), Alex Marinelli, Aaron Adkins, and Billy Miller; while Division III features eight such individuals (seven defending champions): Jake Speiss, Jordan Ganger (Troy Christian), Garrett Hancock (Troy Christian), Sammy Gross (Beachwood), Jacob Danishek, Ryan Harris, Travis Linton, and Patrick Garren.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the season opens Friday night. However, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this is kind of a partial week of sorts. Many teams will not take to the mats until next week, and that is when there will be some major competitions. On Saturday, December 7th, No. 24 St. Edward will host a triangular meet with No. 11 Detroit Catholic Central (Mich.) and CVCA coming to Lakewood; and No. 12 Brecksville will travel to No. 48 Claymont for an evening dual meet. Also that weekend is the two-day Solon Comet Classic, which has traditionally been the state’s top opening weekend event – though it’s the second weekend this year.

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