Ohio Lowedown Special Coverage
By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
Clash of Top 30 national teams ends with Mustangs ahead; but Wadsworth beats Claymont?
In what seemingly is one of the weirdest scholastic wrestling seasons of recent memory, what happened Saturday at St. Edward High School in Lakewood did nothing to change that thought. Ranked No. 21 nationally, the Eagles hosted Wadsworth, Westerville North and No. 29 Claymont in a quadrangular wrestling meet. The results were unlikely.
For the first time in program history, Claymont beat host St. Edward – despite only having six wrestlers win. Did we mention Claymont lost to Wadsworth before that? It was that kind of night.
Here’s how it all went down…
The opening round of matches did not suggest anything out of the ordinary would happen. Claymont won eleven matches in a 54-10 victory over Westerville North, and St. Edward did the same in a 39-15 victory over Wadsworth.
As one could surmise from the score, the St. Edward victory was not your ordinary 11-3 dual meet. The Eagles won five matches decided by two points or less, even though junior Corey Riggenbach of Wadsworth opened the dual meet for the Grizzlies with a 5-3 overtime victory against sophomore Isaac Collier at 126 pounds.
Key narrow match wins for the Eagles came from Joey Ciacchi, who beat fellow senior Jordan Schleigh 3-1 on takedown with less than five seconds left at 138 pounds; junior D.J. Williamson, who used takedowns in the second and third period to upend senior district placer Robbie Bosley 5-3 at 152; Kevin Khoma, who beat fellow senior Shane Mast 9-7 in overtime; sophomore Mike O’Malley, with a 3-2 victory over senior Clayton Brandenburg at 195; and sophomore Joe Marysiack, normally a backup, who used two takedowns in the last 40 seconds of the match to upend junior Connor Gray 6-5 at 120.
The two most notable matches in the dual meet were three point decision victories for the Eagles. In a battle of state qualifiers at 182 pounds, Gabe Dzuro upended Tim Knipl 10-7; while national No. 10 L.J. Bentley upended Noah Baughman (No. 20 at 106) 3-0 in a match at 113 keyed by a first period takedown.
The madness began in the afternoon’s second round of matches.
On one mat, St. Edward won twelve weight classes in a 60-9 victory over Westerville North; while on the other mat, the Claymont vs. Wadsworth dual meet had four lead changes and one tie as things came down to the last weight class.
Senior Devin Gilkerson opened the dual meet for the Grizzlies with a 7-1 victory over freshman Chandler Golec at 132 pounds. Then, in a battle of seniors, it was three-time state placer Cody Burcher giving the Mustangs a 6-3 lead with an expected fall in 3:29 at 138 pounds. Fellow senior Caden Herron would extend that lead for Claymont to 10-3 with a 15-5 major decision at 145 pounds.
Facing that deficit, Wadsworth came up with five consecutive wins to turn that 10-3 deficit into a 25-10 lead. Senior Robbie Bosley secured the fall in 3:06 against sophomore Justice Avery at 152 pounds. Then, the Grizzlies retook the lead 12-10 on an 8-5 decision victory from freshman Alex Jones against senior Clayton Paisley.
Senior Shane Mast came up with a massive upset against fellow senior Matt Dennis, a state qualifier last year, as he earned a 12-4 major decision at 170 pounds. State qualifier Tim Knipl, a junior, then came up with a 2-0 decision victory at 182 pounds against senior state alternate Colt Crall; the difference in the match being Knipl’s second period reversal. Last in that streak of victories was a fall from senior Clayton Brandenburg at the 2:37 mark when junior Nate Gray executed sloppy technique from the bottom position, and was caught for the fall by Brandenburg.
Three consecutive victories, all expected, would enable the Mustangs to equalize the proceedings at 25-all. Senior Garrett Harding, champion at the Medina Invitational last weekend, pinned undersized sophomore Kyle Green in 58 seconds at 220 pounds; Kyle Henry was able to make a first period takedown stand up in a 3-1 victory over fellow senior Jeremy Randolph at 285; before No. 3 in the nation Tyler Warner scored a pin in 3:25 against freshman Brandon Randolph at 106 pounds.
The two squads traded outcomes in the next two matches to set up a winner take all last match. At 113 pounds, Noah Baughman scored a late takedown to win a 5-3 decision over fellow sophomore Lane Peters; while up at 120 pounds, nationally ranked senior Dustin Warner scored a 12-0 major decision over freshman Cody Surratt.
With the score 29-28 in favor of Claymont, Wadsworth bumped Connor Gray up one weight class to take on senior Kollin Clark at 126 pounds. The match went scoreless in the first period; with Gray riding out Clark in the second period, and both wrestlers were warned for stalling; then in the third period, Clark was called for a marginal but correct illegal slam with 30 seconds left to give Gray a 1-0 lead. Clark would then let Gray out for an escape, and a 2-0 Gray advantange. A second stall was called on Gray to cut Clark’s deficit to 2-1, but Clark was unable to score a go-ahead takedown, and the Grizzlies earned a 31-29 victory over nationally ranked Claymont.
Both Claymont and Wadsworth were then charged with the task of following up that second round match with a final round match. One team did that relatively well, the other not so much. As for the other, Wadsworth only won eight weight classes in a 39-24 victory over Westerville North.
The last dual meet of the afternoon would be a match between a pair of Fab50 teams, No. 29 Claymont and No. 21 St. Edward. As would become a theme by the end of this meet, it started off with a fall. Three-time state placer Cody Burcher opened the proceedings at 138 pounds for Claymont with a fall in 1:20 against sophomore Jack Conway.
However, the Eagles would bounce back with consecutive wins to create the first of four lead changes (along with an additional tie). First, Ray Barr would rally from a 5-1 deficit after two periods with a reversal and two takedowns to force an overtime session against fellow senior Caden Herron. In that session, Barr would score a takedown to secure the 9-7 victory at 145 pounds. Then, in the 152 pound weight class, it was junior D.J. Williamson dominating his way to a 16-4 major decision against sophomore Justice Avery. St. Edward took a 7-6 lead.
The next two matches, which yielding consecutive and unexpected falls for the Mustangs would prove crucial in the course of the dual meet. At 160 pounds, Keaton Herron – the nominal backup for Claymont – would pin a fellow reserve, Mike Carpenter, in 1:36. Then, at 170 pounds, Matt Dennis would respond to Kevin Khoma’s match opening takedown with a reversal to the back and a pin at the 1:24 mark. This reversed a match at the Medina Invitational won by Khoma 12-10 in overtime.
The excellent upper-weight quartet for St. Edward would then respond with four straight victories, as the Eagles soared into a 20-18 lead. Gabe Dzuro was dominant, but unable to score the bonus points, in a 14-8 victory over fellow senior Colt Crall at 182 pounds. Sophomore Mike O’Malley bounced back from blowing a 3-0 lead after two periods in winning a 5-3 overtime victory over junior Nate Gray at 195 pounds. Junior Parker Knapp avenged a 3-1 overtime loss in the Medina Invitational quarterfinals with a 12-6 victory over senior Garrett Harding at 220; in the match, Knapp scored two sets of near falls during the third period. Finally, in a battle of senior at 285 pounds, it was Ralph Nichols with the 10-2 major decision victory over Kyle Henry.
Claymont would subsequently respond, as expected, with No. 3 in the nation Tyler Warner securing a pin at the 59 second mark against freshman Alan Hart at 106 pounds. That result, gave the Mustangs a 24-20 lead with four matches remaining.
The dual meet was equalized at 24-all after senior L.J. Bentley, who is ranked No. 10 nationally at 113 pounds, scored a 19-6 major decision over sophomore Lane Peters. The match was more notable for not ending in a pin or technical fall. The next match was also an expected domination, as senior Dustin Warner gave Claymont the lead – this time at 28-24 – after a 10-1 major decision over sophomore Joe Marysiack.
It set up a de facto winner take all match at 126 pounds, as most all know that sophomore Hunter Ladnier was a prohibitive favorite for St. Edward in the last match of the dual meet. Again it was senior Kollin Clark, who was called on for Claymont. However, he came up to the good this time with a 5-2 victory over sophomore Isaac Collier. Key to the victory was takedowns by Clark in the first and third period, both of which were close calls in terms of position.
That created a 31-24 advantage for Claymont, which clinched the dual meet for the Mustangs even though they won only six of the weight classes in the match. As expected, Ladnier would earn an 18-1 technical fall at the 4:25 mark against freshman Chandler Golec.
Interestingly, the final score would be 31-29, with Claymont winning six matches. This time, that was good enough for a win; in the prior dual meet, Claymont lost 31-29 to Wadsworth with winning just six matches.