By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
Nation’s top in-season wrestling tournament returns to Walsh Jesuit this weekend, what to expect
What was supposed to be the first truly full weekend of high school wrestling in Ohio did not go off without a hitch. Bad weather in Central and Southwest Ohio caused some competitions to be cancelled. However, there was a number of events across the state that did happen.
Solon Comet Classic
Leading the event docket was the 29th annual Solon Comet Classic, which is traditionally the best of the season opening tournaments. Even with some star power missing, it lived up to that rep. Despite the absence of returning state placer Alex Woicehovich, and not winning a weight class title, Nordonia earned the tournament title outlasting Oregon Clay by 2-1/2 points (183-1/2 to 181).
The Knights were led by eight wrestlers placing between second and fifth, including a trio of runners-up in Nick Bina (220) and returning state qualifiers Mike Decesare (145) and Heath Phillibert (152). Other placers were Andrew Coghill (113) and Anthony Perrine (170) in third, Cam Duvall (106) and Ryan Taylor (160) in fourth and Eric Claren (182) in fifth.
Despite entering Day 2 of the tournament with a 25 point lead, Oregon Clay stumbled to second place. It was a 3-6 semifinal round that did the Eagles in. However, they did end up with two champions – Jared Davis (126) and Antonio Zapata (285) – which was highest for any school in the field. They also had a tournament high nine individuals place, all inside the top five. Additional placers were Matt Stencel (182) in second, Nick Henneman (106) and Nick Stencel (160) in third, Aaron Henneman (120) and Richie Screptock (132) in fourth and Gavin Nelson (138) and Kevin Witt (195) in fifth.
Other schools with multiple champions were Parkersburg (W. Va.), Toledo Central Catholic and Walsh Jesuit. Championships for the Irish came from Nate Hagan (132) and Alex Mossing (145), while titles for the Warriors came from Alex Mackall (120) and Michael Kostandaras (138). Other Ohio champions in the event were Garrett Lambert (113) of Strongsville, Matt Ludwig (160) of Lake Catholic, Russ Porter (170) of Willoughby South, Anthony McLaughlin (182) of St. Ignatius, Kenny Jackson (195) of Crestwood, and Chris Williams (220) of Painesville Harvey.
Outstanding Wrestler honors went to Kostandaras who earned a 1-0 victory over returning state placer Nick Boggs of Painesville Riverside via an escape with five seconds left in the match. However, the most impressive tournament was had by Hagan, who beat two state placers on the way to his championship: two-time placer Screptock 4-3 in the semis and Nemec of Crestwood 6-4 in the final on a late takedown.
No. 12 Brecksville stings No. 48 Claymont
This past Saturday night a pair of nationally ranked teams met at Claymont High School, and it was the visitors from Brecksville who made a statement. Heading into the evening, the Bees had slight concern, as their projected starting 285 pound wrestler is no longer on the team. As a result, they had to shift personnel around in the middle and upper-weights.
With the dual meet starting at 145 pounds, the Bees opened with six consecutive wins and a 25-0 lead. The lineup shifts were perfect. To open the dual meet, returning state placer Sonny Lucas weighed in up one weight from where he’ll be during individual competition and scored a 12-6 victory over 2012 state qualifier Caden Herron. After a decision from freshman Luke Strnad and a pin from senior Grayson Davis, both of whom also weighed in one weight above normal, the lead was 12-0. A crucial, and somewhat surprising outcome, came when returning state placer Austin Strnad, up three weights from last year and one from where he’ll be during individual competition, earned a 19-6 major decision over returning state qualifier Matt Dennis. Senior Troy Lang, weighing in one weight above normal, earned a 2-0 decision and senior state placer Josh Murphy earned a pin to cement that 25-0 lead.
Claymont was given a forfeit at 220 pounds, which was taken by 2012 state qualifier Garrett Harding; and Kyle Henry cut the deficit to 25-9 with a 3-1 decision over Eddie Sternad, who bumped up to cover for the lack of a true heavyweight. A crucial swing element was a forfeit that Brecksville earned at 106 pounds from Jared Bronstrup, as defending state champion Tyler Warner was unable to make the 106 pound weight class. At 31-9, the dual meet outcome was essentially sealed.
To cement the Bees third consecutive dual meet victory at Claymont, sophomore Austin Hiles – a returning state qualifier – upset Claymont’s three-time state placer Cody Burcher by a 6-3 decision at 138 pounds. The final score was 41-18 Brecksville.
Walsh Jesuit Ironman
Come Friday and Saturday, all focus in Ohio wrestling will be on the nation’s best in-season high school tournament, the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Wrestling Tournament to be held in Cuyahoga Falls. That field is absolutely loaded with the nation’s top four teams (Blair Academy, N.J.; Oak Park River Forest, Ill.; Montini Catholic, Ill.; and Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) along with three other top ten squads (No. 6 St. Paris Graham; No. 8 Massillon Perry; and No. 10 Franklin Regional). In addition, ten other squads from the InterMat Fab50 are in the field, including No. 12 Brecksville, No. 13 Cincinnati Moeller, No. 24 St. Edward and No. 48 Claymont.
From an individual standpoint, the field features three wrestlers ranked first in the country: Spencer Lee (Franklin Regional, Pa.) at 113 pounds, Bo Nickal (Allen, Tex.) at 182, and Andrew Dixon (Edmond North, Okla.) at 220. Also in the field are three other wrestlers ranked second in the nation: Joey McKenna (Blair Academy, N.J.) at 138 pounds, Micah Jordan (St. Paris Graham) at 145, and Jacob Danishek (Dayton Christian) at 152.
Of the 21 wrestlers seeking to win a second Ohio state title this year, potentially 20 of them could be in the Ironman field. However, it is likely that three will be missing due to having competed in state football championship games this past weekend, and another two could be missing due to injury. Breaking down the 42 preseason number one’s in Ohio for the Ironman field: 11/14 in Division I, though two likely out due to football; 12/14 in Division II, though one likely out due to football; 10/14 in Division II, though one possibly out due to injury.
Check JJHuddle for an Ohio-based recap of the nation’s best in-season high school tournament on Sunday. For further preview and analysis, check out InterMat for an article on Thursday.
Past Weekend Quick Hitters
Even without a pair of starters due to football – state qualifier Parker Knapp (220) and district placer Ralph Nichols (285) – St. Edward, ranked NO. 24 nationally, made an impressive statement in its opening competition of the season. First, the Eagles dominated CVCA 66-15. The most notable win was Isaac Collier scoring a pin at 126 pounds over the two-time state placer Ryan Bennett, who was ranked No. 1 in Division II at 120 in the preseason. Next, the Eagles lost a 37-37 tied dual meet against the nation’s No. 11 team (Detroit Catholic Central, Mich.) on the ninth criteria.
The Fricker’s Duals hosted by Archbold at Defiance College featured 19 schools, as Miami Trace had to pull out due to the weather (an Archbold reserve group took their place as the 20th team). Davison, Mich., ranked No. 20 in the nation, went an undefeated 10-0, while Hudson, Mich. had the second best record at 9-1. The best Ohio team in terms of records was Milan Edison at 8-2; however, the Chargers faced a rather weak docket of teams, as matchups were pre-determined. The four best Ohio performances were by the quartet that went 7-3: Perrysburg, Archbold, Wauseon and Lexington. Perrysburg went 2-1 against those teams, beating Archbold 41-23 and Wauseon 43-31, but losing to Lexington 39-33. The lone other match among the four teams was Wauseon’s 40-32 victory over Lexington.
Cincinnati Moeller, ranked No. 13 nationally, went 4-0 at the Moeller Duals this past weekend despite having (at least) four starters – Dean Meyer (160-182), Dakota Sizemore (170/182), Quinton Rosser (182/195), and Chalmer Frueauf (220/285) – out of the lineup and in Stark County winning a state football title. The Crusaders had the following victories: 62-9 over Akron SVSM, who was also missing multiple wrestlers due to football; 36-32 over Elyria; 43-19 over Westerville North; and 43-21 over Parkersburg South, W. Va. Also going 4-0 in the event as a team was Springboro with the following victories: 36-25 over Elyria, 51-18 over Parkersburg South, 51-17 over Akron SVSM, and 45-19 over Westerville North.
Wadsworth and Mason engaged in a tight battle for the title at the 10-team Olentangy Liberty Classic this past weekend, one in which the Wadsworth Grizzlies won 303 to 292. The Grizzlies had eight finalists, with six winning weight class titles: Brandon Randolph (106), Noah Baughman (113), Darrin Gilkerson (132), Shane Mast (170), Tim Knipl (182), and Clayton Brandenburg (285). The runner-up Comets responded with seven finalists, including four weight class champions: Caleb Dimerling (145), Jordan Collins (160), Sheldon Sims (220), and Austin Morris (285).
Looking Ahead: Other Events
The 54th annual North Canton Holiday Wrestling Invitational Tournament will be held this coming Friday and Saturday at Hoover H.S. in Stark County. Last year’s event was a tightly contested tournament that saw the hosts from North Canton Hoover win their first title in this tournament for a long time. The Vikings will seek to defend their title this year against a formidable field of teams. Notable challengers include Uniontown Lake, Lorain, Steubenville and Wadsworth.