JJHuddle Wrestling Preview: A look at the state's top teams and storylines
As the wrestling season prepares to hit the mat this weekend, here is a glimpse of some of the storylines and teams to watch. Can Wadsworth repeat in D-I? Can Graham win its third national championship in four years? Will a new coach at Troy Christian get the same results? That and more...
As the wrestling season prepares to hit the mat this weekend, here is a glimpse of some of the story lines to watch.
In Division I, Wadsworth ended Lakewood St. Edward’s reign at the state tournament, and returns a strong nucleus in an attempt to defend its title.
In Division II, who will be able to pose a challenge to Graham? The Falcons won the state title last season by almost 200 points en route to claiming their second national championship… and are loaded again this year.
In Division III, who will come out on top? Can new Troy Christian coach Ty Morgan rebuild an Eagle team depleted by graduation?
Here is how things could shape up.
Wadsworth – The Grizz return seven state qualifiers, including champ Nick Tavanello and runner-up Kagan Squire.
Last season, they had enough in the upper weights to hold off St. Edward after finishing second at the district tournament.
The question is, will their depth help them retain the title belt?
Lakewood St. Edward – It has been a long time since the Eagles were looking to get back on top.
However, they do return state champ Dean Heil at one end of the line up
and state placer Greg Kuhar anchoring the upper weights. In between St.
Ed has have five other returning state qualifiers, which will help it
Massillon Perry – Perry placed three on the podium at the state tournament and has six returning state qualifiers.
While it may get the numbers back to state, Perry will need to get quality with their quantity.
Moeller – Moeller returns three state qualifiers from last season, and could be the best chance from Southwest Ohio to crack into the upper echelon.
However, the Crusaders will face a challenge from Elder to be the best of the Queen City.
Brecksville Broadview Heights – Three returning qualifiers and a returning placer are back in the stable, but the Bees may need more power to finish in the top 5 on the big stage.
Graham - Duh. Graham has won 10 straight Division II state titles including a ridiculous 2010 performance where it outscored the second place team by 160 points en route to claiming its second National Championship in three years.
The Falcons return eight state placers, including champions Ryan Taylor, Bo Jordan, Isaac Jordan and Huston Evans. Add in newcomers Rusty Maness and Case Garrison – and another Jordan, Micah (119) – and the Falcons could be looking at placing 13 on the podium in Columbus. And, don’t be surprised if they don’t put double digits on the top step – and challenge the 300-point mark.
The Falcons will face a stern test on the national level from Apple Valley and Blair Academy (who they travel to this year) in their pursuit of back-to-back national titles.
Oak Harbor – The Rockets were the closest challenger to the Falcons last season, and should be this year as well.
They return Ian Miller, who could throw a wrench into Graham’s gold medal run, as well as two other placers and four qualifiers.
Probably going to be a race for second, but the Rockets seem to be
the best shot to be in the mix.
Lexington – OK, so they return just three state qualifiers, but all of them found their way onto the podium last season.
If the trio can find a way to move up the ladder, and Lexington can find some depth at the state tournament, they could make a run at the Rockets.
Wapakoneta – Wapak returns three state qualifiers, two of which found the podium. The big gun is returning state champ Logan Erb.
Parma Padua Franciscan – PPF also returns three state qualifiers, including a pair of placers. However, all its points from Columbus coming back are in the lower weights.
Bedford St. Peter Chanel – For three years, Troy Christian won state titles by getting the most out of their qualifiers…not a lot of for sure golds, but a lot of the bonus points along the line. Chanel could follow that blue print to the state title this season.
The Firebirds return seven state qualifiers, including one placer, who could help chip their way to the top of the big board.
Monroeville – Big points abound.
With Monroeville, you know what you are getting with Chris Phillips, Hunter Stieber and Cam Tessari…state titles. Each one is going for their fourth state championship and barring a huge upset, will get it.
However, how the other two returning qualifiers – Cal Clark and Brent Wilken – fare at the state tournament will be key in determining if the Eagles can stay at the top of the team race, or find themselves resting in the top three.
CVCA – Much like Monroeville, they have strength in numbers.
With three returning state placers out of the quartet they took to the state tournament last season, they should make some noise again.
Much like the other teams in the top 3, they will need to get the bonus points and a win or two along the way from those who don’t reach the podium.
Dixie – The Greyhounds replace Troy Christian as the team to beat out of Southwest Ohio.
Dixie returns the excellent Ethan Hayes – looking for his second state title – as well as two other state placers. Add in one more with experience, plus the experience they will gain with a beefed up schedule, and the Greyhounds could challenge for the title.
North Jackson Jackson-Milton – With two returning state placers amid a trio of qualifiers, the Jays could make a run for things with some depth at the state level.
Again, they will have to get numbers to Columbus and get points from everyone to make a run at the title.
Released Tuesday: Top Wrestlers
Coming Thursday: JJHuddle Preseason Wrestling Power Poll