STATE WRESTLING REVISITED: BIGGEST STORIES
As we all know, this past weekend was the OHSAA state wrestling tournament, which means that the scholastic wrestling season is “officially” over. However, that does not mean the end to the Ohio Lowedown until next November. While this article will wrap up the just completed state tournament, upcoming articles will address a wide range of topics: Ohio wrestlers in the NCAA tournament, Ohio wrestlers in the post-season national tournaments, et al.
First and foremost, let’s take this moment to congratulate the 42 individuals that were crowned state champions. It is the culmination of much dedication and hard work for them as individuals, as well as their coaches, friends, and families. Each young man should take time to reflect upon what they have accomplished, as they will have it as something to cherish going forward. The same can be said for all of our state placers and qualifiers.
My late January state tournament prediction rankings held up relatively in line with how they have in previous years. There were nine correct champions in each division, for a total of 27 in all. The other champions were all projected to finish within the top four of their weight classes: seven in second, four were rated third, and the other four were positioned in fourth.
Looking in the other direction, eleven of the projected champions who did not win either finished second (four) or third (seven). The other four projected champions that did not win, however did place, one each in fourth, fifth, sixth, and seven. Even though there was a swarm of upsets earlier in the tournament, quarterfinals in particular, it was a relatively normal year in terms of prognostication
Four-time state champions now stand at 27
With the championships earned by Micah Jordan (St. Paris Graham) and Jacob Danishek (Dayton Christian), they join 25 others before them to win a state title in each of the four seasons of their high school career in the Buckeye State. It is an exclusive and distinct club, featuring such members as two-time NCAA champions Jim Jordan and Logan Stieber, along with 2012 U.S. Olympian Harry Lester.
Jordan earned his state title with two opening pins, a 25-10 technical fall in the semifinals, and a first period pin in the final off of a merkle. The nation’s top-ranked 145 pound wrestler will move on to presumptively bigger and better things at Ohio State University.
Danishek reached the final with a first minute pin in the opening match, and then a pair of technical falls. However, his state finals bout did not start so well, when Zach Ladich (Rootstown) throw Danishek to his back in the opening minute. Danishek then countered with a reversal of Ladich to his back to exit the first period tied at 5-5. It would eventually become a 7-7 match, with Ladich shooting in for a potential go-ahead takedown. However, Danishek countered it into a five-point move, a takedown with three near falls to cement the 12-7 victory.
The future Indiana Hoosier is the nation’s second-ranked 152 pound wrestler, and ends his career on a hefty winning streak. His last loss came in early December of his junior year during the Walsh Jesuit Ironman final.
Mackall on a mission
From what arguably was the state tournament’s toughest weight class, it was sophomore Alex Mackall (Walsh Jesuit) who stood on top of the podium in the Division I/120 pound competition on Saturday night. He opened the tournament with a pin at the 2:46 mark, to move into a highly anticipated quarterfinal against returning state placer Josh Heil (Brunswick).
However, by match end, the only anticipation was if it would be a pin or technical fall. With a supremely dominant performance, Mackall earned the 17-1 technical fall at 6:00. The semifinal bout was equally as anticipated, as he would face freshman Corey Shie (Cincinnati LaSalle). This was a battle of Cadet National freestyle All-Americans, and Shie had upended Mackall 11-6 in the mid-January Top Gun final. However, on this occasion, the match was one-sided the other way, with Mackall earning a 17-9 victory.
That set the state for a championship finals match against Jake Newhouse (Massillon Perry), a fellow Cadet National freestyle All-American, who had upset projected state champion Austin Assad (Brecksville) by an 8-7 score in the quarterfinal round. Mackall earned a third victory against Newhouse on the season in a 7-4 finals victory, despite breaking his arm during the last five seconds of the match right after Newhouse had scored a reversal.
Even though Mackall did not win the OHSWCA Most Outstanding Wrestler award for Division I, he was my outstanding wrestler for the Division I competition, and will move into the national rankings tomorrow.