Josh Lowe (@JoshMLowe) is currently a national high school wrestling analyst for InterMatWrestle.com and was named the 2013 OHSWCA Media Service Award winner. JJHuddle.com is proud to announce he covers wrestling for us as well. The topic? High school wrestling. The writer? One of the sports best.
Four wrestlers from 48 sectionals will advance to next week’s Districts, Who & What to Watch…
The OHSAA state wrestling dual team tournament concluded on Sunday. With that, it’s 100 percent onto the individual bracket state tournament series. Before looking ahead, let’s congratulate the dual team tournament champions: St. Edward in Division I, St. Paris Graham in Division II, and Delta in Division III. St. Edward won its second dual team title in four years, while it was fourth consecutive titles for St. Paris Graham and Delta respectively. All three teams finishing as the runner-up did so in a debut appearance in the state final: Elyria in Division I, Wauseon in Division II, and Mechanicsburg in Division III; Elyria and Mechanicsburg were semifinal losers last year, while Wauseon was in its state dual team tournament debut.
This weekend marks the start of the individual state tournament series with the sectional tournaments, of which 48 will be conducted statewide on Friday and Saturday (or just Saturday for some sites). Deadline for entry of wrestlers is Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. so information should start coming in after 9:00 p.m. about some of the key participation questions throughout the state (i.e. weight class movement, injury availability).
Those 48 sectionals will see four wrestlers per weight class qualify for district tournament competition. As a result, there will remain 2,688 wrestlers seeking their state tournament dream. Let’s take a look at some of the highlight sectional tournaments statewide.
Division I – Westlake (feeds to Perrysburg District)
The top two teams in Ohio’s big-school division anchor this sectional tournament, St. Edward and Elyria. Also at this sectional is Olmsted Falls, a team that has legitimate “on the board” (i.e. top ten in the standings at the state tournament) aspirations. Five projected state champions and 21 state placers, which are absurdly high numbers, are projected to come from this tournament.
Projected state champions in this sectional include Devione Edwards (Lorain) at 113 pounds, Hunter Ladnier (St. Edward) at 138, J.T. Brown (Elyria) at 182, Ben Darmstadt (Elyria) at 195, and Kevin Vough (Elyria) at 285. It should be noted that Brown sustained an injury in the state dual meet final that forced him to default from the match, though they hope that he is able to compete on Saturday.
Three weight classes at this sectional feature a trio of projected state placers. 113 pounds with Edwards, Brandon Fenton (Elyria), and Matt Kazimir (St. Edward); 160 with Brice Locklear (Olmsted Falls), Mikah Price (Elyira), and Mike Carpenter (St. Edward); along with 182 featuring Brown, Tyler Stepic (St. Edward), and Aaron Huff (Elyria). It should be noted that Carpenter was held out of the state final dual meet for St. Edward, though they project him being able to compete on Saturday.
Division I – Lebanon (feeds to Kettering Fairmont Distirct)
This sectional features both teams that made the state dual team tournament from the southwest, Elder and Fairfield. Joining that pair of teams is Moeller, who is projected to finish in the top ten of the individual state tournament standings. As a result, this is a rather deep sectional, the best of the four feeding into the Kettering Fairmont district.
From an individual standpoint, the sectional features ten wrestlers projected to place at the state tournament, along with another twelve (22 total) wrestlers in the top sixteen of their state tournament weight class. Three weights in particular are notable for their depth.
At 132 pounds, three returning state qualifiers anchor the tournament field: Dylan Buis (Oak Hills), Austin Sper (Fairfield), and Keyon Huntley (Northwest); Huntley, however, was not ranked top sixteen. The 138 pound weight class features a pair of returning state qualifiers in Jake Thompson (Moeller) and Jake Meredieth (Elder), a third ranked wrestler in Sam Meddings (Fairfield), along with Chase Haehnle (Oak Hills). The 152 pound class features a pair of projected state placers in Jacoby Ward (Moeller) and Andrew Sams (Fairfield), along with a formidable wrestler from Elder that has previously made the state tournament in either Connor Craig or Samuel Williams.
Division II – Claymont (feeds to Claymont District)
Two of the state’s better teams will again do battle at the sectional and district tournaments, Claymont and Carrollton. Last year Carrollton won the sectional title but had a poor district Saturday as Claymont emerged with the title in that tournament. The best central district team is also at this site, Licking Valley, though they are only in the hunt for third here.
Fourteen projected state placers exit this sectional tournament (which is double the expected value of seven), as do 12 other wrestlers in the top 16 statewide (26 total are ranked). There are five weight classes featuring three or more ranked wrestlers, including the absolute barn-burner at 138 pounds that has three projected state placers among four ranked wrestlers.
Returning state placers Jake Martinez (Licking Valley) and Hayden Bullard (Johnstown Monroe), along with returning state alternate Adam Shaw (Carrollton), are the projected state placers at 138. The other ranked wrestler in this weight class is returning state qualifier Dakota Bunting (Sparta Highland), with additional returning Maxx Peters (Claymont) also projected to appear in this weight class.
Tyler Warner (Claymont) is the projected state champion at 120 pounds, and is joined by two other ranked wrestlers in returning state qualifier Addison Fogle (Licking Valley) and state alternate Sammy Southers (Minerva). Returning district placer Justin Shaw (Carrollton) and state qualifier Chandler Golec (Claymont) are projected to place in the state tournament at 126 pounds, and are joined in this sectional weight class by returning state qualifier Logan Ball (Cambridge). The 160 pound weight class features a trio of returning state qualifiers in projected state placer Ashton Eyler (Claymont) along with Bailey Jenkins (Meadowbrook) and Brenton Miller (Carrollton). Returning state placer Aidan Pasiuk (Carrollton) anchors at 170 pounds, where he is joined by Aidan Rauch (Claymont) and 2014 state qualifier Ethan Fout (Licking Valley).
Division III – Lehman Catholic (feeds to Troy District)
State dual team runner-up Mechanicsburg is the anchor team at this sectional, where they are joined most notably by Covington and Miami East in a replica of the top three finishers from the Lima Central Catholic D3 Classic from late January. Other squads include state dual team participant Versailles and a Troy Christian team that features some solid individuals.
Three projected state champions and (more than twice the expected number) 16 state placers exit this sectional tournament. Six weights feature three or more ranked wrestlers, including one with four ranked wrestlers and another with three projected state placers. The 113 pound class features a trio of projected state placers in Graham Shore (Miami East), Tyler Wetzel (Mechanicsburg), and Connor Ryan (Covington); with Shore and Wetzel returning state placers. The field at 138 pounds includes four ranked wrestlers, led by a pair of returning state placers in Tanner Smith (Mechanicsburg) and Ryan Ford (Covington), who are joined by returning state qualifier Chase Mayhabb (Milton Union) and district placer Tanner Bey (Versailles) in the state rankings.
Another weight with three ranked wrestlers is 132 pounds, led by 2014 state qualifier Nick Miller (Mechanicsburg) along with state qualifier Kamron Paulus (Milton Union) and Zane Strubler (Miami East). Three ranked wrestlers, all with state tournament experience are present at 145 pounds; returning state placers Wade Smiddy (Mechanicsburg) and Jake Gutierrez (Springfield Catholic Central), as well as Luke Buxton (Dixie). The field at 160 pounds includes two-time state champ Kaleb Romero (Mechanicsburg), returning state qualifier Lance Miller (Covington), and Corey Dieringer (Versailles); while at 285 pounds, it is returning state placer Ben Ferguson (Miami East) joined by state qualifier Seth Douglas (Troy Christian) and Cameron Coffman (Dixie).
*Hilliard Darby District: sectionals at Marysville, Newark, Upper Arlington, and Watkins Memorial
*Kettering Fairmont District: sectionals at Centerville (1 & 2), Hamilton, and Lebanon
*Mentor District: sectionals at Brecksville, Kenston, Massillon Perry, and Willoughby South
*Perrysburg District: sectionals at Oregon Clay, Toledo Waite, Wadsworth, and Westlake
*Alliance District: sectionals at Akron SVSM, Canal Fulton Northwest, Lake Catholic, and West Branch
*Claymont District: sectionals at Alexander, Claymont, Steubenville, and Whitehall
*Fostoria District: sectionals at Brookside, Clyde, Napoleon, and Sandusky
*Wilmington District: sectionals at Batavia, Tippecanoe (1 & 2), and Washington C.H.
*Garfield Hts. District: sectionals at Beachwood, Independence, Rootstown, and West Salem Northwestern
*Heath District: sectionals at Alexander, Barnesville, Cardington Lincoln, and Sandy Valley
*Toledo Waite District: sectionals at Archbold, Carey, Milbury Lake, and Plymouth
*Troy District: sectionals at Blanchester, Lehman Catholic, Lima Central Catholic, and Madison Plains