STATE WRESTLING STORYLINES: 5-6
After what was (as always) a drama-filled weekend of district tournament wrestling, the 672 participants have been determined for the 2014 OHSAA State Wrestling Individual Tournament. This 77th edition of the championships has its set of narratives that will keep fans intrigued. Here are a couple intriguing items to eye ball this weekend.
5. Looking for a team race, check out small-school Division III
Even though we discussed team title races with Division I and Division II, if you want a real team race, turn your attention to Division III. Even though Delta is going to overwhelm everyone on volume with 12 state qualifiers; the top-heavy power of Dayton Christian, which qualified eight to state, can give a significant push to the Panthers this weekend. Delta was champions of the Bowling Green DIII district, while the Warriors won the title at Troy.
Two-time state dual meet champion Delta was second in the individual state tournament last year, and is led by five district champions: freshmen Drew Mattin (106) and Jesse Beverly (152), defending state champion Jake Spiess (113), three-time state placer Tyler Fahrer (160), and Ryan Patchin (182). Four wrestlers finished as district runners-up: two-time state placer Kyle Keller (120), Noah Mattin (126), returning state placer Dustin Marteney (132), and Chance Vellor (285). The other three qualifiers – Todd Miller (170), Mark Francis (195), and Devon Richards (220) – each finished fourth at district.
Dayton Christian was runners-up at the state duals earlier this month and finished third at the individual tournament last year. They have five district champions as well, led by three-time state champion Jacob Danishek (152); past state placers in Hunter Bray (106), Christian Clary (113), and Michael May (120); as well as returning state qualifier Nate Jackson (285). Joining that quintet at state are state placer Alex Becker (138), a district runner-up; Florida state runner-up Nick Vestal (145), who placed third at district; and district fourth Josh Clary (126).
While Delta and Dayton Christian each had five district champions, no other team qualified more than five to the Division III tournament. Those teams with five include Garfield Hts. district champions Waynedale; Covington and Mechanicsburg, who finished second and third at Troy; as well as Norwalk St. Paul and Genoa, who finished second and third at Bowling Green DIII. Many teams qualified four to state, including Heath district champions Bishop Hartley.
6. Triple the pleasure
Rare is it to see multiple state champions come together in one weight class, even rarer to see three of them in one weight. That’s the case this year in Division II at 126 pounds, with defending state champions Anthony Tutolo (Lake Catholic) and Eli Seipel (St. Paris Graham) joined by 2012 state champion Cameron Kelly (Bellbrook).
The last such occasion came in 2004, when in the Division II 119 pound weight class, Ricky Deubel of Kenston bookended his career with state titles, in a weight class that included sophomores Kevin Lipp of Beachwood and Pat McLemore of Padua. Lipp and McLemore had won state titles the year before, and on this occasion came in third and one match short of placing (back when only six placed at state).
In terms of this weight class, separation principles dictate that district champions who have finished top three at the state tournament will be in opposite half-brackets. Tutolo was champion of the Alliance district, while Kelly beat Seipel by 3-1 decision for the title at Wilmington. That district final outcome was a reversal of the district and state finals last year at 113 pounds, when Seipel beat Kelly on both occasions.
As a result, Tutolo and Kelly are in opposite halves the draw. Seipel is the district second in the opposite quarter of the half-bracket with Tutolo, which means they are most likely going to meet in the state semifinal round on Friday night. Tutolo will also have to face a state placer in the quarterfinal round, the winner of a first round match between Chandler Minnard of Bloom Carroll and Cole Tawney of Gallia Academy.