By Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe)
Medina, Lebanon and West Salem Northwestern sectionals shine…
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.
All that being said, let’s recap a few of the higher profile sectionals statewide.
In arguably the toughest sectional in all of Ohio, the top four teams dominated. Out of the 56 qualifiers for the Cleveland State DI District, 41 came from those squads. Brecksville qualified 12 for district, and won the title with 268.5 points. The Bees were led by seven champions: Austin Assad (120), Justin Demicco (126), Austin Hiles (132), Sonny Lucas (138), Grayson Davis (145), Austin Strnad (160), and Josh Murphy (195).
Runners-up were Wadsworth with 254 points, as they qualified ten for the district tournament, along with three others earning the alternate position. The Grizzlies were led by four sectional champions: Noah Baughman (106), Robbie Bosley (152), Tim Knipl (170), and Alex Carrell (182). Finishing third in the standings, also with ten qualifiers, was Brunswick with 203 points. The Blue Devils went zero-for-ten in matches for first and third place, as their only wins on Saturday evening came in two alternate matches. They had seven runner-up finishes, led by those from Josh Heil (120) and Brett Thomas (126).
Fourth in the standings was Nordonia with 189.5 points, as the Knights were led by a pair of sectional champions in Andrew Coghill (113) and Alex Woicehovich (220). They qualified nine wrestlers to the district tournament. The lone champion not from a top-four team was Jovahn Fair from Akron Firestone at 285 pounds. Two wrestlers in the state rankings did not qualify for the district tournament, though they were alternates at their weight class: Connor Gray (120) of Wadsworth and David Erdelac (126) of Strongsville.
Lebanon – Division I
Cincinnati Moeller outlasted Mason 278.5 to 237 in a two-team battle for the sectional title between state dual meet tournament participants. The Crusaders qualified thirteen for the district tournament, but were only able to muster three weight class titles in this tough sectional tournament. Those winning titles were state placer Conner Ziegler (120), state qualifier Connor Borton (126), and state champion Dakota Sizemore (182). Tournament runners-up Mason qualified eleven for the Kettering Fairmont district, including four champions: Zack Donathan (106), Patrick Kearney (113), Caleb Dimerling (152), and Austin Morris (285).
Probably the biggest upset in a sectional final statewide came here with two-time state qualifier Tinashe Bere of Sycamore upending Moeller’s three-time state placer and defending state champion Chalmer Frueauf by fall at 220 pounds. Other highlights of the finals included state qualifier Brandon Selmon of Princeton defeating Moeller state placer Jacoby Ward 2-1 at 132; 2012 state placer Joe Heyob of St. Xavier earning a third victory of the season over returning state runner-up Quinton Rosser of Moeller, this time 3-1 at 170 pounds; and a battle of two-time state placers at 195 pounds, one in which Tegray Scales of Colerain defeated Jerry Thornberry of Moeller 3-1.
West Salem Northwestern – Division III
This sectional monopolized state qualifiers from the Garfield Hts DIII District last year, and is favored to do so again. Winning the sectional was pre-tournament favorites Waynedale by three points over state dual meet tournament semifinalist West Salem Northwestern, 228.5 to 225.5 points. West Salem Northwestern beat Waynedale by criteria in the state duals regional semifinal, and Waynedale then upended them in the conference tournament later that week. Finishing third in the standings was fellow state dual meet tournament semifinalist Tuslaw with 173 points.
These three teams combined for 27 of the 56 district qualifiers, and nine of the 14 sectional champions. Leading the way for sectional champions Waynedale, which qualified ten to district, was four weight class champions: Christian Wellman (106), Tyler Wirth (113), Reid Stanley (145), and Dakota Stanley (152). The runner-up Huskies qualified nine to district, but also had four sectional champions as well in Shane Clark (132), Joey Meek (170), Kile Schaefer (182), and Mat Hunter (285). The third place Mustangs qualified eight to district, led by their lone sectional champion Chance Marthey (138).
Rounding out the sectional champions were Kollin Moore (160) and Mitch Murray (220) from Norwayne, Charles Davis (120) from Fairless, Zach Durbin (126) from Mapleton, and Ryan Weber (195) from Loudonville. On the not so good side of things, returning state qualifier John Smith (113) from Mapleton, who was on a 42 match winning streak, failing to make weight for the sectional tournament. Also failing to make the district tournament was state ranked wrestler Kyle Cayse (126) from West Salem Northwestern.