By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
Late Saturday afternoon, we’ll know the 672 wrestlers headed to State, here’s a look at who they might be…
The sectional tournaments are over and done. In most cases the knockdown to about 2700 wrestlers remaining across all three divisions was uneventful, but a few wrestlers with legitimate hopes of qualifying to state were displaced prior to the district tournaments.
The 12 district tournaments statewide kick off on Friday afternoon, and we’ll know the 672 wrestlers to qualify for state by late Saturday afternoon. Given that premise, this is arguably the biggest weekend on the wrestling calendar statewide, as so much is on the line. For many, the emotion associated with making (or missing) the state tournament is extremely high. As a result, the intensity of district tournament wrestling, especially on Saturday afternoon (semis, consi quarters, and consi semis) is arguably unmatched during the scholastic season.
Here’s an overview for each of the twelve district tournaments statewide.
Overall this is a very top heavy tournament with eight teams that should dominate the proceedings. Already mentioned are the four squads from the Medina sectional: Brecksville (12 qualifiers), Wadsworth (10), Brunswick (10), and Nordonia (9). The other four teams are a pair from the Lorain sectional: St. Edward (13 qualifiers) and Elyria (9); along with Oregon Clay and Perrysburg, who each qualified all fourteen wrestlers out of the Oregon Clay and Mansfield sectionals respectively.
Those eight teams will most likely around 40, possibly even 45, of the 56 state qualification spots at this district tournament. Virtually every weight at this district tournament is deep with state-level talent, and at least five weights have five or more top 16 kids in the state present.
Hilliard Darby – Division I
Five teams qualified double digit wrestlers to this district tournament, which includes all of the schools in the Central District. Leading the way with eleven is three of the four sectional tournament champions: Delaware Hayes, Teays Valley and Westerville North. Qualifying ten are sectional champion Marysville and Pickerington North. Overall, it is likely that no team will qualify more than five to state from this tournament. As a whole, this is the shallowest of the Division I district tournaments, though the competition at 138 pounds will be well contested with four ranked wrestlers along with two notable unranked wrestlers (one a state qualifier last year, the other a state alternate).
Kettering Fairmont – Division I
Four teams qualified double digit competitors from last weekend’s sectional tournaments, led by the 13 for Cincinnati Moeller. Teams with eleven include state dual meet tournament participant Mason; along with the two teams they beat at the regional level, Centerville and Springboro. Four squads qualified nine to the district tournament, the most notable is Loveland, probable favorite to finish second to Moeller.
Upper weights should be the dominant story at Kettering Fairmont again this year, in particular the 182 and 220 pound weight classes where state ranked wrestlers will be displaced before the state tournament. The 138 pound weight class is another one with more ranked wrestlers than the four qualifying spots.
Mentor – Division I
State tournament favorites Massillon Perry are the anchor of this tournament, having qualified thirteen from their sectional last week. The Panthers are favored to qualify ten-plus wrestlers, the question being if that number is ten, or is something higher than that. Otherwise, this is not a district tournament known for its power programs. Instead there is a balance with many teams likely to qualify multiple wrestlers for the state tournament.
In addition to Massillon Perry, three other teams have ten-plus wrestlers in district competition. Willoughby South has eleven, while Aurora and Uniontown Lake have ten each. The 126 and 132 pound weight classes are the deepest in this district tournament with five ranked wrestlers apiece.
Alliance – Division II
Arguably deepest of the Division II district tournaments is led by a pair of squads with an outside chance of finishing as runners-up to St. Paris Graham in the state tournament. Perry had twelve qualified for district, while Akron SVSM has nine. These two teams should also pick up the most state qualifiers, SVSM with as many as seven and Perry with a possible six. Padua, West Branch, CVCA, Canfield, Lake Catholic, and Crestwood all have the chance to get four out should they have good tournaments this weekend.
Bowling Green – Division II
Based on how things look, Toledo Central Catholic enters this tournament as the strong favorites to improve upon last year’s district tournament runner-up finish. Having advanced to the semifinals of the state duals the last two years, the Irish qualified a tournament-high 12 for the district, and could see as many as nine make the state tournament.
The most likely team to match their firepower will be Sandusky Perkins, which qualified eleven to district. Another team to watch is a third sectional tournament champion, Lexington, which qualified eleven to district and has advanced to the state dual meet tournament the last two years. As a general observation, this district tournament is stronger in the upper-weights than the lower-weights.
Claymont – Division II
For many years it was the Goshen (now Wilmington) District that earned a reputation for being St. Paris Graham and a (weak) field behind it. However, this year’s combined Central/East district could be called the Claymont District, even if the Mustangs weren’t the host team. Last year a poor district tournament for Claymont, even though it was a weak field, cost them the chance to be double runners-up to Graham. This year, that is very unlikely to happen.
Claymont qualified all 14 to the district tournament, after finishing state duals runner-up for a second straight year. The Mustangs are looking at possibly sending double digits to Columbus next week. It is likely that no other team will qualify more than four, with Carrollton and Steubenville being among those having the chance to hit that number.
Wilmington – Division II
St. Paris Graham is obviously the anchor tenant of this tournament, as the Falcons are prohibitively favored to win a fourteenth straight state title this year. Before the previous two years, in which they qualified eight wrestlers to state, they were sitting on a nine of ten year stretch of hitting ten-plus qualifiers to the state tournament. While they weren’t in this district in 2012, they were last year, and part of the Falcons having less state qualifiers can be attributed to the improvement in quality from other squads at this tournament.
However, it is very likely the Falcons will be back into double digits for number of state tournament qualifiers this year, with the range being between nine and twelve out of the fourteen they qualified to district. Miami Trace was the only other team in double digits for district qualifiers, having advanced ten, and is the likely district tournament runners-up.
Bowling Green – Division III
Delta has won the state dual meet tournament in both years of its existence, and was runners-up in the individual state tournament. Now they seek their fifth individual title in all, and first since 1999. The Panthers have qualified all fourteen wrestlers to district, and are looking at double digit qualifiers to the state tournament. While they are favored for the individual state title, the more they can qualify to state, the greater cushion they’ll have on Dayton Christian in the team race.
Cary has the next most qualifiers to the district tournament with ten, while more likely district runners-up Archbold, Genoa, and Norwalk St. Paul qualified nine each. Overall it’s a deep district as at least five weight classes feature five or more state ranked wrestlers, which means someone is staying home. In particular, keep an eye on 113, 120, 132, 182, and 285 pounds.
Garfield Heights – Division III
Already mentioned earlier in the column, the West Salem Northwestern sectional wrestlers should dominate the sectional tournament. While their ten district qualifiers are only third most, Waynedale is the favorites for the district title. They are looking at having at least five, and as many as seven, state qualifiers. That should enable them to out-point the three state dual meet tournament representatives competing at this site – Rootstown, West Salem Northwestern, and Tuslaw.
Leading the way in district qualifiers with twelve each are Rootstown and Girard. Behind the ten for Waynedale are nine each for Beachwood, Berkshire, West Salem Northwestern, and Manchester. Four weights to watch for their depth at this site are 138, 152, 170, and 195.
Heath – Division III
The competition at this tournament should be very balanced, as only Ridgewood was able to qualify even ten wrestlers to the district tournament. Only three other teams even have eight wrestlers in the field this week: Belpre, Harrison Central, and Paint Valley. The lone state dual meet tournament representative, Bishop Hartley, qualified seven to the district tournament.
Despite the relative lack of individual quality depth in comparison to the other Division III district tournaments, the Heath District has the least underclassmen among those competing in Division III district tournaments this weekend. Based on analysis of the field, for any team to qualify more than four to state from here, they would have to have a really hot weekend.
Troy – Division III
One of the big narratives for this weekend will be if Dayton Christian can sneak through an extra wrestler or two to the state tournament beyond their “super seven”. Josh Clary (126) and Seth Bell (132) have legitimate chances to at least make a go-to-state match, and once at that point, it’s anybody’s game. The Warriors, with twelve district qualifiers, are one of five teams with double digit wrestlers competing in this tournament.
Other teams with ten-plus include Covington with thirteen, which is the tournament high; Coldwater and Blanchester with eleven each; and Reading with ten. Covington, which lost a tightly contested dual meet to Dayton Christian in the regional final, is the favorite to finish as district runners-up. Mechanicsburg, with eight qualifiers, is probably the go-to team for third place in the standings. The toughest weight in this tournament is the 152 pound class.