STATE WRESTLING STORYLINES: 1-2
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.
1. Can Massillon Perry get that elusive state championship at The Schott?
While the Panthers did win the state dual meet tournament three weeks prior, there is something extra special about winning that first place trophy in the traditional/individual tournament. They have finished second to St. Edward each of the last three years, and nine of the last eleven years. With four projected state champions and eleven state qualifiers, both of which are most in Division I, they are the clear favorites.
Thomas Genetin (106), Isaac Bast (170), and Stefano Millin (220) join three of the projected state champions – Jose Rodriguez (113), David Bavery (126), and Casey Sparkman (152) – as the six Massillon Perry wrestlers to win district titles in the Panthers’ runaway championship at the Mentor district. Projected state champion Tony Dailey (160) along with Jake Newhouse (120) finished in second at the district tournament, while Jason Spencer (132), Nick Steed (138), and Seth Maylor (285) all qualified with third place finishes.
Only four other teams in Division I have as many participants as Massillon Perry had district tournament champions. Leading that group is Cincinnati Moeller, champion at the Kettering Fairmont district, which qualified nine wrestlers. That number includes three district champions – Jacoby Ward (132), along with defending state champions Dakota Sizemore (182) and Chalmer Frueauf (220). Three others are returning state place-winners: Conner Ziegler (120) and Quinton Rosser (170), who finished second at district, and district third place-finisher Jerry Thornberry (195). Returning state qualifier Connor Borton (126) finished third, as did state tournament debutants Stuart Morton (145) and Austin Bohenek (160).
Brecksville, district champions from Cleveland State and runners-up at the state duals earlier this month, is one of two teams to qualify eight wrestlers to the state tournament. The Bees are led by four district champions, three of whom placed at state last year: projected state champion Austin Assad (120), Austin Strnad (160), and Josh Murphy (195). Justin Demicco (126) also won district, and is a returning state qualifier, as are district runners-up Austin Hiles (132) and Troy Lang (170). State tournament debutants Jarod Bronstrup (106) and Grayson Davis (145) each finished third at state. They will feel the loss of returning state placer Sonny Lucas (138), who finished as a state alternate, in their quest to improve on a third place finish at the individual state tournament last year.
Also qualifying eight wrestlers were Perrysburg, which finished third at the Cleveland State district. The Yellow Jackets are led by returning state placer J.P. Newton (152), who is their only district champion. Projected state champions Rocco Caywood (182), now a three-time state qualifier, and returning state placer Cale Bonner (285) finished third and second respectively at district. Kadin Llewelyn (195) joined Bonner as a district runner-up, while returning state placer Mario Guillen (113) joined Caywood as third at district. The other three qualifiers finished fourth at district: Moises Guillen (120), Dan Waltermeyer (160), and Mark Delas (220).
Three-time defending state champion St. Edward qualified only six to state, and finished as runner-up at the Cleveland State district. It will be a battle for them to finish even third or fourth this weekend. They will be led by district champion L.J. Bentley (113), district runners-up Gabe Dzuro (182) and Parker Knapp (220). Additonal state qualifiers include district third place finisher Ralph Nichols (285) along with fourth place finishers Alan Hart (106) and Kevin Khoma (170).
Hilliard Darby district champions Marysville are among the group of squads to qualify five wrestlers to the state tournament in the big-school division. The Monarchs feature four returning state placers, three of whom are district champions: Hayden Lee (113), David Sparks (138), and Austin Pfarr (220); while two-time placer Taleb Rahmani (145) was runner-up at district.
2. Whither St. Edward?
As mentioned earlier, St. Edward qualified only six wrestlers to the state tournament this year. For many programs that would be a record-high; however, for the perennial mega-power Eagles, it’s a cause for alarm. Putting this into perspective is the following:
(1) Going back to 1990, when they last did not have a state champion, they have PLACED six or more wrestlers at state 19 of 23 years – the other four years (1991, 1993, 1999, 2009) they placed five.
(2) In 2010-2012, they had six-plus wrestlers in the state FINALS. They also did that in four consecutive years during the middle of last decade, 2004-2007.
Furthering the context of their dynasty, in the last 40 years (1974-2013), they have had a state finalist in every year but one. That was 1975, when Tom Cousineau placed third at 285 pounds. They have had a state champion in every year since 1978, but for 1990.
Going forward, they return three of their six state qualifiers – Hart is a freshman, while Bentley and Knapp are juniors. Furthermore, they had four underclassmen earn state alternate designations: freshman Jared Campbell (195), sophomores Isaac Collier (126) and Hunter Ladnier (132), along with junior D.J. Williamson (152). So bury the Eagles at your own peril, they will be back.