By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
State Duals continue; Conference Tourneys slated for the weekend; Wadsworth, Archbold record big wins
The major item this week is tomorrow with the regional semifinal and final rounds of the team state wrestling tournament. A full listing of those matchups is available here, http://www.jjhuddle.com/2014/01/24/ohio-hs-state-dual-team-tournament-semifinals-determined-host-sites-announced/
Among the many potential dual meets across the state, there are a few in particular which stand out for their potential intrigue.
Leading the way in Division I is the Region 1 semifinal between Oregon Clay and Perrysburg. Last year the two teams met in this round, they split the fourteen bouts at seven apiece, and it was Oregon Clay winning 34-25 based on earning four pins compared to one for the Yellow Jackets. It is highly possible that the dual meet will take on similar dynamic this year; however, it is Perrysburg entering as the slight favorites. The winner of that match will most likely take on Elyria, presuming they get past Mt. Vernon in the semifinal round.
Three other matchups present interest for the fan, though the outcome is most likely known. The Region 2 final is most likely to place Wadsworth against St. Edward. Earlier in January, St. Edward won eleven weight classes against Wadsworth in a 39-15 victory; however, when both teams faced Claymont later that day, Wadsworth beat Claymont 31-29 while St. Edward lost to Claymont 31-29. This presumes Wadsworth gets past Brunswick in a semifinal round matchup placing favorites in two of the bigger leagues in Northeast Ohio (Suburban and NOC) against one another.
The Region 3 semifinal places nationally ranked Brecksville against a very solid and balanced Nordonia squad. However, Brecksville had too much depth and star power for the Knights. The Bees would then most likely face host Willoughby South in the final, should they get past Solon. While in Region 8, Moeller and Loveland will meet up in the semifinal round. The upper-weight bouts (170-285) in this dual meet should be extremely intense, as many likely state placers will clash. This is a rematch of a dual meet from last year at this stage won by Moeller, 47-21. Even though the lower half of Moeller’s lineup is not as strong as last year, it should still be enough to provide the necessary cushion to win the dual meet. The winner of this match would meet either Harrison or St. Xavier in the regional final.
The most notable Division 2 matchup is the likely final in Region 10 between Sandusky Perkins and Lexington. Host Lexington draws Upper Sandusky in the semifinal, while the Pirates take on conference rival Clyde. These teams placed first and second at the J.C. Gorman, with Lexington winning 227.5-to-198; while Perkins out-pointed Lexington at the Medina Invitational 105-to-93, with the teams finishing eighth and ninth place.
Looking at Region 12, the returning individual state runner-up Perry Pirates will have two tough dual meets should they want to make a repeat appearance to the state dual meet final eight. They draw Canfield in the semifinal round, while it is likely that the winner would face the host team (Crestwood) in the final; Crestwood draws Minerva in the semifinal.
Then in Division 3, defending team state champions Delta draw two relatively challenging dual meets in Region 17 on Wednesday night. Even though the Panthers have enough star power and depth to clear both Oak Harbor and (most likely) Archbold, both opponents are better than some of the teams that will advance to the final eight from other regions. Two other regions also present higher profile matchups.
In region 18, Waynedale will seek to redeem their self for last year’s failure in the regional final. Coming in to that bout, the 2012 state champions were favored to win the initial team state tournament; however, Tuslaw had different ideas, as they won eight matches in a 35-31 victory. In this year’s semifinal round, the Bears draw a tough opponent in conference rival West Salem Northwestern. The Huskies were runner-up at last week’s SMCC D3 Duals, and have four wrestlers with state tournament experience plus two others that won two matches at the district tournament last year. The opposite semifinal features Milan Edison against Norwalk St. Paul.
Dayton Christian, who won this past week’s SMCC D3 Duals and the Marion County Invitational earlier this month, is likely to finish second to Delta in the individual state tournament. However, the Eagles don’t have an easy exit out of Region 23. Presuming they defeat Brookville in the semifinal, which is something Dayton Christian did this past week, they are looking at the winner of a dual meet between Versailles and Covington in the final round.
Versailles was a state final eight team last year. However, Covington is pretty loaded this year and the top seed in that half of the draw. The Buccs feature a very balanced lineup with three state qualifiers and two state alternates from last year.
After the regional semifinals and finals on Wednesday, the eight teams will then be seeded in order by a selection committee. The results of that vote will yield quarterfinal pairings, which will be released by the OHSAA either at the end of this week or very early next week.
Conference Tournaments across the state this week
The vast majority of conferences will hold their championship tournaments this week, with a select few waiting until next week to do so. Leading the way in Northeast Ohio is the NOC (Northeast Ohio Conference) and Suburban League.
The NOC Tournament will be held on Friday and Saturday at Garfield Hts. Brunswick enters the tournament as favorites to win, while other contenders include Elyria, Parma, Garfield Hts, and Solon. Among the highlight bouts will be a rematch of the Bill Dies Memorial semifinal between state placers Armando Torres (Elyria) and Josh Heil (Brunswick) at 120 pounds; Heil won that bout 6-4 in overtime, though he was trailing 4-1 with ten seconds left in regulation.
The Suburban League Tournament will be held on Saturday at Nordonia, and is a two-team race between the host Knights and Wadsworth. Wadsworth won the in-season dual meet 34-21 and is the perennial champion of the conference, while Nordonia has at least a nominal chance of upsetting them in the tournament this weekend.
Heading into the Northwest Ohio, one of the more interesting tournaments will be held in the NWOAL (Northwest Ohio Athletic League) at Evergreen. Nationally ranked Delta is the defending champion, and returns six weight class champions from last year’s event. Other notable teams in the field include Wauseon and Archbold, who both are in team state regional semifinal action this week.
Of some nominal interest is also the two-team battle for the TRAC (Three Rivers Athletic Conference) title between Oregon Clay and Toledo Central Catholic. The featured matchup should come at 132 pounds between past state placers Richie Screptock (Oregon Clay) and Nate Hagan (Toledo Central Catholic).
Down in Southwest Ohio, the most notable conference tournaments are in the two major public “big-school” conferences. The GMC (Greater Miami Conference) Tournament is on Saturday at Lakota East, and features Mason as the perennial favorite; while the GWOC (Greater Western Ohio Conference) Tournament will be held on Friday and Saturday at Kettering Fairmont. The GWOC tournament is a much more open affair, though Centerville is the slightest of favorites over Springboro and Kettering Fairmont.
Depth leads Wadsworth to a home title at the Grizzly Invitational Tournament
Even though Oregon Clay had five weight class champions from six finalists, as compared to Wadsworth having three champs from four, it was Wadsworth who came away with the tournament title this past Saturday. The key for the Grizzlies was having eleven wrestlers win their preliminary pool, and earn a top four finish; while the runner-up Eagles had no other wrestlers with a top four finish outside of their weight class finalists.
Winning titles to anchor the Grizzlies’ 466-1/2 point effort were Noah Baughman (106), Tim Knipl (170), and Clayton Brandenburg (195). Alex Carrell (182) finished as runner-up. Third place finishes came from Connor Gray (120) and Jordan Schleigh (138), with Brandon Randolph (113), Corey Riggenbach (126), Dominic Cart (145), Robbie Bosley (152), and Shane Mast (160) finishing in fourth place. Of the three other starters, each finished second in their preliminary pool, with Darrin Gilkerson (126) and Jeremy Randolph (285) winning two bracket bouts to place fifth overall.
Even though Oregon Clay was missing two-time state qualifier Jared Davis (126) from the lineup, his potential contribution would not have been enough to erase a 60-point final deficit for the Eagles relative to Wadsworth. Winning weight class titles for Oregon Clay were Richie Scretpock (132), Gavin Nelson (138), Nick Stencel (160), Matt Stencel (182), and Antonio Zapata (285); while Nick Henneman (106) finished in second place.
Rounding out the weight class champions were three from Olentangy Liberty – Kristofer Volpe (113), Jonathan Furnas (120), and Giuseppe Penzone (126); Mike Portilla (145) of North Canton Hoover; as well as David-Brian Whisler (152) and Mike Bell (220) of Warren Howland.
Archbold wins Lima CC Thunderbird Invitational by razor thin margin
Covington was denied a repeat of their 2013 Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational title by the thinnest of margins this past weekend, as Archbold used a pin in the penultimate consolation final to jump ahead of the Buccs by one-half point in the final team standings (186-to-185.5).
The champion Blue Streaks were led by Logan Day’s title at 145 pounds, one in which he beat fellow state runner-up Logan Lacure (Greenview) 2-1 in the championship final. Kenny Price was runner-up in the 138 pound weight class for Archbold, losing by 15-4 major decision to freshman phenom Kaleb Romero (Mechanicsburg). As previously mentioned Travis Jamarmillo placed third at 220 pounds with a pin in the finals, and five other wrestlers earned spots on the top six podium (two in 4th, 3 in 5th).
The runner-up Buccs had three in the finals, led by weight class titles won by Ryan Ford (132) and A.J. Ouelette (195). The sophomore Ford beat returning state third placer Wes Fritz by 11-3 major decision in the final. Unfortunate for Covington was an upset loss suffered by defending state champion Jared Ganger in the 126 pound final. Coming back from a major injury, Ganger fell to 4-3 defeat against returning state placer Caleb Ohl of Newark Catholic. It was a second Thunderbird Invitational title for Ohl, who was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Four additional wrestlers placed for Covington (seven total, as opposed to the eight for Archbold). Finishing third was Ben Miller at 170 pounds, two Buccs finished fourth, and another was sixth.
Other weight class champions included returning state qualifier George Clemens (Wayne Trace) at 106 pounds, state runner-up Evan Ullinski (Woodmore) at 113, state placer Tyler Sarreshteh (Liberty-Benton) at 120, two-time state qualifier Jesse Gross (Norwalk St. Paul) at 152, three-time state placer Austin Reese (Mechanicsburg) at 160, two-time state placer Armani Robinson (Greeneview) at 182, state placer Justin Post (Coldwater) at 220, and state placer Corey Durbin (Fremont SJCC) at 285.
The Official LoweDown
Look for the annual State Tournament Predictions Report to be posted towards the end of this week. It is a top 16 ordinal ranking of each weight class across the three divisions, along with commentary.