2016 State Wrestling Wrap: History, Heartache & Highlights
A couple types of history were made this past weekend in the Ohio state wrestling tournament held at “The Schott” on the Ohio State campus. In all 27 previous occasions that a three-time state champion made it to the state tournament with a chance to win their fourth title, said wrestler would win the state title.
However, this weekend Seth Beard (Napoleon) took out No. 7 Tyler Warner (Claymont) 6-4 in the Division II 120 pound semifinal. The Kent State bound senior would go on to win the state title over returning state runner-up Justin Stickley (St. Paris Graham) by a 6-3 score, a championship that was also the first ever for his school. Beard opened the tournament with a 15-0 technical fall and a 9-0 major decision in the quarterfinals against a returning state medalist. Said performance earned him Outstanding Wrestler honors in Division II for the state tournament.
All that being said, the real Outstanding Wrestler in Division II – at least in my opinion – was Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham). The No. 2 ranked 170 pound wrestler in the country dominated this tournament with three pins and then a 15-7 major decision in the championship match. Marinelli’s victories in the semifinal and final came against returning state medalists. The Iowa-bound wrestler finishes his career as Ohio’s 28th four-time state champion, with a career record of 200-4, and a 137 bout winning streak that goes back to midway through is sophomore campaign.
Furthering his case as Outstanding Wrestler was the 160 and 182 pound finals in the division. Both contestants in each final were competing at 170 pounds during various points of the season. At 160 it was Garrett Jordan (St. Paris Graham), who flipped weight classes with Marinelli in late December; and Eric Fasnacht (Padua), who dropped right before the state series. Then at 182, Tyler Wiederholt (Bellbrook) and Robbie Bowers (Defiance) each moved up a weight class right after finding out about the Marinelli/Jordan weight class switch.
St. Paris Graham, ranked No. 3 nationally, was the story of the tournament from a team standpoint. The Falcons won their 16th straight Division II state title, qualifying (and placing within the top five) 13 wrestlers. The 253 team points eclipsed last year’s 250 point total as the second-most in the history of the state tournament for any team/division (St. Paris Graham in 2009 scored 282 points).
Marinelli was joined by four other Graham wrestlers as state champions: No. 12 Mitch Moore (126), No. 8 Brent Moore (138), No. 13 Rocky Jordan (145), and Garrett Jordan (160). Moore won the most anticipated Division II final, besting No. 10 Tariq Wilson (Steubenville) by 5-3 decision, propelled by a reversal and three-point near fall in the third period. Stickley was joined as runner-up by Jeff Thomas (113); placing third were Jordan Crace (106), Ryan Thomas (113), and Kanan Sarver (195); while Joey Sanchez (152), Gage Braun (182) and Johnny Shafer (220) placed fifth.
Other highlights in Division II included a state title for No. 20 Georgio Poullas (Canfield) at 152 pounds, as he anchored their team runner-up finish; No. 8 Jack Harris (Urbana) and Matt Adams (New Lexington) were the first individuals from their program to win state titles, doing so at 195 and 285 pounds respectively; Ana Abduljelil (Whitehall) won his program’s second state title, the other one coming in 1960; while Josh Venia (Toledo Central Catholic) repeated as state champion at 106 pounds.
St. Edward ranked No. 7 nationally won its 30th (individual) state tournament title, its 18th in the last 20 years, as they cleared through a field featuring two other nationally ranked teams. Led by state champions in Bryce Andonian (106) and No. 9 Hunter Ladnier (138), the Eagles placed nine wrestlers in amassing 152 points. Other medalists were runner-up No. 9 Jared Campbell (220), Matt Kazimir (113) and Allan Hart (126) finishing third, Jack Conway (152) finishing fourth, Sam Dover (132) finishing fifth, with Mike Carpenter (160) and Tyler Stepic (182) placing sixth.
Team runner-up honors went to No. 20 Elyria with 105 points, their highest total in program history. The Pioneers overcame major adversity in the last month of the season: losing returning state medalist Nico O’Dor (152) and returning state qualifier Josh Breeding (120) in go-to-state bouts at the district tournament, along with multiple injury issues. None the less, two of their seven individual state qualifiers brought home state titles: Brandon Fenton (113) and a repeat title for No. 4 Ben Darmstadt (195). Other medalists were No. 3 Kevin Vough (285) finishing as runner-up, J.T. Brown (182) earning fourth, and Mikah Price (160) placing fifth.
No. 38 Olentangy Liberty scored 95 points, also placing five wrestlers, led by now three-time state champion No. 12 Kyle Lawson (160). Other placers for the Patriots were state runner-up Trevor Lawson (170), third place medalists Brakan Mead (106) and Trey Grenier (145), along with Connor Brady (132) finishing fourth.
Leading the individual highlights were the first two state titles in program history for Central Crossing, coming from No. 7 Jaden Mattox (132) and No. 12 Kameron Teacher (285). Teacher led No. 3 Vough by a 7-2 score midway through the third period when Vough had to default from the match due to injury. The most anticipated match of the whole state tournament was the 145 pound final, one in which No. 2 David Carr (Massillon Perry) dominated No. 8 Dominick Demas (Dublin Coffman), the final score of 8-4 was arguably not fully reflective of the dominance shown by Carr.
Joining Darmstadt as two-time state champions were No. 12 Noah Baughman (Wadsworth) at 120 pounds and No. 4 Matt Stencel (Oregon Clay) at 220. Stencel pinned No. 9 Campbell in the second period to avenge last week’s district final loss, and win the season’s rubber match. Other notable finals bouts saw Mario Guillen (Perrysburg) upset No. 18 Alex Mackall (Walsh Jesuit) 7-5 in overtime, as well as Austin Hiles (Brecksville) avenge a regular season loss to upend Nick Kiussis (Brunswick) 11-9, a result that made the junior Kiussis a three-time state runner-up.
In Division III, the story of the tournament was the overall dominance of No. 25 Delta, which won four state titles on the way to 159 pounds. Winning gold for the Panthers were Drew Mattin (120), Jake Spiess (132), Dustin Marteney (138), and Jesse Beverly (152); it was a second title for Mattin and a third in four years for Spiess. Three of their four additional state qualifiers also placed on the podium: Devin Richard (220) and returning state champion Chance Veller (285) took third, while Cole Mattin (106) finished fourth.
Tournament runner-up Dayton Christian placed four wrestlers on the podium, three of them in the state final, on the way to 92.5 points. No. 10 Logan Lacure (145) won his third state title, it was a second state title for No. 16 Tommy Hoskins (113), while Nick Vestal (152) placed second and Ronnie Pietro (106) finished third. Dual team runners-up Mechanicsburg placed third with 86.5 points, placing six of their eight state qualifiers; however, only Kaleb Romero (160) finished as state champion. Romero, ranked No. 11 nationally, won all four of his bouts by technical fall and has the potential to become a four-time state champion next year; he was named Oustanding Wrestler in Division III.
Other highlights in the division included freshman Dylan D’Emilio (106), ranked No. 5 nationally, winning his first of a possible four state titles; the first individual state title in school history for Wayne Trace coming from George Clemens (126), who finished his season undefeated; along with junior James Handwerk (Lutheran West) becoming a two-time state champion.
Photos By Nick Falzerano