By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
Massillon Perry captures elusive title after finihsing runner-up 10 times, Sectional Tourneys of note are…
The focus of the Ohio high school wrestling community this past weekend was on the state dual meet championships, which were held on Saturday at St. John Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University. If you were looking for drama during the day, unfortunately you were in the wrong place.
Out of the twenty-one staged dual meets, a grand total of zero had their outcome in doubt headed to the last weight class. Furthermore, the higher seeded team won every single dual meet but for one. All of that said, it was an excellent showcase, as many of the state’s best teams competed in dual meet competition. Additionally, there were many interesting “matches within a match” with top competitors facing one another.
The most notable development of the weekend was Massillon Perry winning their first ever state championship in wrestling. The Panthers were runners-up last year in the state duals, and also have been runners-up in the individual tournament during nine of the prior eleven seasons.
On this Saturday, the nation’s seventh-ranked team went 32-10 in individual matchups, beating Delaware Hayes 54-9 in the first round, No. 27 St. Edward 48-15 in the semifinal, and No. 21 Brecksville 48-9 in the championship match. The semifinal victory over St. Edward was the first ever dual meet victory for Massillon Perry over the Eagles in program history.
Six Massillon Perry wrestlers swept their three matches on Saturday: Thomas Genetin (106), defending state champion No. 4 Jose Rodriguez (113), 2012 state champion David Bavery (126), No. 14 Casey Sparkman (152), No. 13 Tony Dailey (160), and Isaac Bast (170).
No. 5 St. Paris Graham and No. 48 Delta were repeat winners of the state dual meet tournament in Division II and Division III, respectively.
The Falcons opened with a 71-3 victory over Wilmington. However, they had a sub-par semifinal match in upending Toledo Central Catholic 42-25. Both squads won seven matches; however, St. Paris Graham won all seven of their matches by pin. The biggest upset of the day came in this match when No. 7 Alex Marinelli, a defending state champion for St. Paris Graham, lost 8-6 to junior Lucas Beauch at 160 pounds. An additional upset victory for the Irish came when Nate Hagan upended projected state champion Brent Moore 3-1 in overtime at 132 pounds.
St. Paris Graham beat Claymont for the second straight time in the state final. Last year, it was a 36-24 victory, in which the Falcons won eight weight classes. This year, it was extremely similar as they won eight weight classes in a 35-24 victory over the No. 31 ranked Mustangs. However, the main difference this year was the relative ease of the victory.
Instead of a back-and-forth bout early on, it was anything but. While Claymont jumped out ahead with state champion Tyler Warner winning a 5-0 decision against Justin Stickley, the Falcons responded with four straight wins. This included a 6-0 victory for sophomore Mario Kastl over projected state champion Dustin Warner.
Trailing 15-3 in the dual meet, Claymont came through with a very mild upset at 138 pounds. Three-time state placer Cody Burcher defeated projected state champion Kyle Lawson 1-0, as an early match penalty point provided the only scoring of the bout. However, the Falcons would respond with another four-pack of consecutive wins to clinch the dual meet.
It started with a pin from three-time state champion, and national No. 1, Micah Jordan in 1:27 against Jonathan Gray at 145 pounds; and ended with a 19-4 technical fall for state placer Lane Thomas against state qualifier Matt Dennis at 170. By then, the score was 35-6. Claymont won the last four matches of the dual meet to close down the margin.
Delta carved through their first two opponents in the Division III competition to the tune of winning 12 matches in each dual meet. In the opening round, it was a 70-8 victory over Blanchester; while the semifinal was a 65-6 victory over Tuslaw in a rematch of last year’s state dual meet final.
The championship round match against Dayton Christian was a reflection of the Panthers’ depth. Some things did not go right for Delta, but they were still able to overcome and win eight weight classes in a 40-26 victory. This included the opening bout in which Hunter Bray upended projected state champion Drew Mattin 6-0, a reversal of a 2-0 win for Mattin in the Brecksville Holiday final. Bray scored all his points in the second period; first when Mattin was called for a locking hands technical violation with inside of 30 seconds to go, and then in the next sequence, with a reversal to the back.
Delta then countered with state champion Jake Spiess scoring a 6-0 victory over three-time state palcer Christian Clary at 113 pounds. That was yet another one-versus-two bout looking at the Division III rankings. Spiess scored all his points in the second period as well. Then, Dayton Christian made it 9-3 with an unexpected pin from 2012 state placer Michael May against three-time state placer Kyle Keller. Keller had an 8-1 lead in the bout, but was trapped out of position for a defensive fall at the 1:17 mark.
Consecutive major decisions from freshman Noah Mattin (126) and state placer Dustin Marteney (132) would allow Delta to regain the lead at 11-9. However, three consecutive wins for Dayton Christian gave them their largest lead of the dual meet at 23-11. Alex Becker scored a 6-2 decision at 138, Nick Vestal earned a pin in 45 seconds at 145, and three-time state champion Jacob Danishek scored an 18-3 technical fall at 152.
Then, it was five consecutive pins from Delta that clinched the Panthers their second straight dual meet state title. Four of those pins were in the first period – Tyler Fahrer (160), Ryan Patchin (182), Mark Francis (195), and Devon Richards (220) – while Todd Miller (170) scored his pin at the 5:41 mark. Nathan Jackson gave Dayton Christian a last match consolation victory with a 10-6 decision over Chance Vellor in a battle of projected state placers at 285.
With the state duals done, it is now time to move to the individual state tournament series. In each of the three divisions, there will be 16 sectional tournaments, from which four wrestlers per weight class will exit to the district tournaments next week. Come Saturday night, the quest for state titles and state placements will be down to 896 wrestlers per division (just under 2700 in all).
Generally speaking, the sectional tournament serves mostly as a knockout stage. With limited exceptions, those wrestlers with legitimate hopes at state tournament qualification (and placement) will move on to the district tournaments. Many neutral wrestling fans find that Saturday afternoon round/session of district tournament wrestling to be their favorite of the year – state tournament spots are decided, and the stark reality of the situation is crystal clear.
As for this week, there are a few sectional tournaments across the state where there is some high quality depth, so let’s go through those sites.
Division I at Medina (sectional feeds to the Cleveland State district). State dual meet runners-up Brecksville are joined by Suburban League champions Wadsworth, NOC champions Brunswick, and Solon Comet Classic champions Nordonia. This sectional is viewed by many as the deepest in the state of Ohio, as it has sent 20-plus wrestlers to state for at least five years running.
Division I at Lebanon (sectional feeds to the Kettering Fairmont district). State dual meet participants Moeller and Mason anchor the thirteen team field, which also features St. Xavier, who were regional runners-up in the state duals.
Division II at Tippecanoe (sectional feeds to the Wilmington district). There are actually two sectionals being held at this site, one feeds to the Wilmington district, and the other goes to Bowling Green. Given the disparity at the two sites outside of what the teams from these two sectionals contribute, virtually all the substance is in the sectional feeding to Wilmington. That includes St. Paris Graham, which has won 13 individual state tournaments in a row. From a statistical standpoint, this sectional (last year at Milton Union) sent 25 wrestlers to the state tournament.
Division II at Bowling Green (sectionals feed to the Bowling Green district). These are being mentioned for the fact that two sectional tournaments will be held concurrently at the Stroh Center. Each tournament will have 15 teams in it. The North sectional is anchored by state dual meet semifinalist Toledo Central Catholic, as well as Wauseon, Oak Harbor, and Upper Sandusky. The South sectional is the weaker of the two as Sandusky Perkins leads a thin field that features Clyde as possible second best.
Division III at West Salem Northwestern (sectional feeds to the Garfield Hts. district). State dual meet semifinal losers West Salem Northwestern and Tuslaw are both present here. However, it is 2012 state champion Waynedale that enters the tournament as favorites. Last year this sectional sent an absurd 29 wrestlers (i.e. one more than half of the qualifiers from the Garfield Hts district) to the state tournam