Graham's David Taylor and St. Edward's Collin Palmer are each going for their fourth title this weekend. (Photo by Greg Beers)
The 72nd annual State Wrestling Championships start Thursday at OSU's Schottenstein Center. The event, which will be attended by over 65,000, packs plenty of punch this season. Can Graham beat the record for most individual champions? Can anyone
beat St. Edward? Can anyone stop Monroeville’s Fantastic Four?…Can anyone wait?
So how popular is wrestling in Ohio?
Consider: Last year’s state finals session on Saturday night drew a crowd of 14,924 to Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. Three weeks later the Division II boys basketball state final between Chillicothe and Toledo Libbey was witnessed by 14,498. It was the highest attended basketball game at the state finals.
The kicker? Last year was the wrestling finals lowest attendance since moving to the Schott from Wright State’s Nutter Center in 1999. In 2007 the state finals session attendance was 15,685.
Popular? Yes. Immensely.
Expect much of the same this weekend as the 72nd annual Ohio High School State Wrestling Championships descend upon Columbus. Wrestling starts Thursday. It concludes Saturday night in primetime.
Right now Ohio is the center of the high school wrestling world.
Four teams are ranked among the country’s top 17 programs. Graham, the defending national champion, is the flag-bearer at No. 2, while Wadsworth (15), Massillon Perry (16) and Lakewood St. Edward (17) also make the cut.
Individually Ohio’s even more dominant. Out of 14 weight classes, six have an Ohio wrestler ranked No. 1. Only one other state – Pennsylvania – has more than one. Ohio also has one wrestler ranked No. 2.
Last year Hillsboro’s Dustin Carter captivated and inspired the crowd by making state. He deservingly grabbed national headlines.
This year promises to be another great one as well.
Can Graham beat the record for most individual champions? Can anyone beat St. Edward? Can anyone stop Monroeville’s Fantastic Four?
…Can anyone wait?
Right now it doesn’t get any better than the Graham wrestling room anywhere in the country. When competition commences Thursday, the Falcons will look to continue the absurd.
Graham is the reigning national champion and this year’s team – which is currently ranked No. 2 – might be better. The Falcons are going for their ninth straight Division II state title and 11th overall. Should they get it, only St. Edward would have more. Right now Graham is tied with Maple Heights.
The Falcons are also looking to beat their Division II team scoring record (221.5) for the third year in a row and the overall team scoring record (229) set by St. Edward in 2007.
The most hallowed mark within reach is Cleveland West’s record of six individual state champions set in 1951.
Last year the Falcons went 4-2 in finals bouts. This year they have 13 wrestlers headed to state. Twelve are district champions. One was runner-up.
Graham dismantled the competition at the Goshen District, racking up an astonishing 358 points. Last year they scored 356.5.
District winners for the Falcons were Nick Brascetta (103), Isaac Jordan (112), Zach Neibert (125), Felipe Martinez (130), David Taylor (135), Matt Stephens (140), Brian Stephens (145), Huston Evans (152), Kyle Ryan (160), James Mannier (171), Max Thomusseit (189) and Logan White (215).
In the 13 finals matches, Graham won 11 by technical fall, major decision and pin. In the other two bouts, Evans won 6-4 in overtime and Sheldon Kegley lost 7-5 at 119 (to Fairfield-Union’s undefeated Alex Minnard).
Graham is the only team in any division to have double-digit wrestlers at state.
Yeah, all other teams in D-II are wrestling for second.
DIVISION Is AMAZING RACE
St. Edward has won 12 straight D-I state titles and 24 overall, but the Eagles will receive some resistance as they try to add to those tallies. No. 13 might not be so lucky.
The good news is the Eagles posted 197.5 points in winning the Mentor District. Four St. Ed wrestlers won district titles, while two finished runner-up. In all, eight Eagles advanced to state.
The bad news is St. Ed finished No. 3 in the final D-I state poll and will be pushed by Nos. 1 and 2.
Wadsworth, which has beaten St. Ed twice already this year in duals, was the poll champion and advanced nine to state. The Grizzlies had four district champions and three runners-up.
Massillon Perry, which got seven wrestlers to Columbus, also beat St. Ed this season to finish No. 2 in the final poll.
Wadsworth and Perry both wrestled at the Perry District meet this past weekend. Wadsworth won the team title with 210 points, while Perry was second with 190.
CAN TROY CHRISTIAN THREE-PEAT?
The Eagles have been the most dominant D-III team in Ohio the last three years with back-to-back titles and a second place finish. This season TC qualified nine to state and had five Fairmont District champions: Jordan Hancock (119), Pawlos Campbell (125), Zac Hancock (140), Chris Burns (145) and Zach Toal (160). Zac Hancock and Toal are defending state champions. Another state title favorite for the Eagles – senior Jordan Thome – was upset at Fairmont in the finals by Mechanicsburg’s Brendon Klaus (5-3). Thome was state runner-up last year. The Eagles expect to receive challenges from Monroeville and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (qualified eight) in the team race.
MONROEVILLE’S FEARSOME FOURSOME
Speaking of Monroeville, depth is the only thing that will affect the Eagles in the D-III team race. Individually they will be just fine.
Monroeville qualified five wrestlers to state, including four defending state champions in sophomore Hunter Stieber (119), junior Logan Stieber (125), sophomore Cam Tessari (130) and sophomore Chris Phillips (171).
Hunter Stieber carries a 94-1 career record into his first round match, while older brother Logan, a two-time state champion, is 82-0 the last two years. Phillips career record is 96-1.
Sophomore Cal Clark also qualified at 135.
TAYLOR AND PALMER GOING FOR FOURTH TITLES
Graham’s Taylor and St. Edward’s senior Collin Palmer are both going for their fourth state titles. Should the duo accomplish the feat, they’d become Ohio’s 17th and 18th wrestlers, respectively, to do so. Taylor is headed to Iowa State, while Palmer is going to Ohio State.
TIPPING THE SCALES
Last year in the only state final meeting of two undefeated wrestlers, Barberton’s Adam Cogar and Cincinnati Elder’s Orlando Scales entered the D-I 215 finale with identical 47-0 records. Scales picked up win No. 48. After a scoreless first period, he took a 3-2 lead late into the third and escaped a Cogar takedown bid to hold on for the win.
This year Scales is undefeated again (35-0) and could meet another unbeaten in the state final. Groveport-Madison’s Seth Nelson (44-0) is on the other side of the bracket. BIGGEST FIRST ROUND MATCH-UP
Division III 119: Monroeville’s Hunter Stieber vs Massillon Tuslaw’s Justin Hall. Stieber was the 103 state champion last year as a freshman, while Hall was the 103 state runner-up in 2007. POTENTIAL MATCH UPS OF NOTE
1. Division I 140 final: St. Edward’s Collin Palmer vs Wadsworth’s Brad Squire. Would be a meeting of two former state champions. Palmer is going for his fourth title, while Squire is going for his second. Squire was also second last year. 2. Division I 112 final: St. Edward’s Gus Sako vs St. Ignatius’s Jerome Robinson. Clash would be rematch of last week’s mentor District final which Robinson won 9-6. Sako was a state champion at 103 last year, while Robinson was third in 2007. 3. Division II 112 semifinal: Aurora’s Ty Mitch vs Graham’s Issac Jordan. Mitch, a junior, was the 103 state champion last year after placing eighth as a freshman. Jordan is from the legendary St. Paris wrestling clan – brother of recent three-time state champion Ben and son to former four-time champion and current U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan.
4. Division II 140 final: Graham’s Matt Stephens vs Hunting Valley University School’s Harrison Hightower. Hightower, a junior, is a defending state champion, having won at 130 last year. Stephens finished fourth in this class last year as a freshman.
5. Division III 140 final: Troy Christian’s Zac Hancock vs Johnstown-Monroe’s Chris Block. Hancock is looking for his second state title after winning at 130 last year. He also finished second at 125 in 2007 and sixth at 130 in 2006. Block, a fellow senior, carries far less credentials, having placed seventh at 135 last year. He is however 52-0 this season.
6. Division I 285 quarterfinal: West Carrollton’s Jordan Beverly vs Wadsworth’s Ben Buzzelli. This could be a rematch of last year’s third place bout in which Beverly beat Buzzelli by pin (1:38). Beverly was undefeated this season until losing in the Hilliard Davidson District final, while Buzzelli beat nationally-ranked Jeremy Johnson of Brecksville Broadview Heights in the finals at the Massillon Perry District.
7. Division III 285 semifinal: Spencerville’s Tyler Obringer vs Massillon Tuslaw’s Josh Morosko. Potential rematch of last year’s 285 fifth-place bout won by Obringer (pin in 1:35). Both are district champions and have just one loss. Obringer has 45 wins. Morosko has 44.
The following weight classes are loaded: 1. Division I 135: A total of eight former state placers (but no champions) makes up half the field. 2. Division I 145: A total of six former state placers are in the field, including 2008 state champion Seth Horner of Massillon Perry (won at 130). Others in the field include 2008 runner-up and senior T.J. Rigel of New Carlisle Tecumseh and Cleveland St. Ignatius junior David Habat, who owns a pair of third place finishes. Want a sleeper? How about Upper Arlington’s Kevin Drake who enters 50-0. 3. Division II 130: Fourteen of the 16 tickets were punched by upperclassmen. It’s a freshman, though, that is the favorite. Can Graham frosh phenom Felipe Martinez earn his first state title? Can anyone in the weight class stop him? 4. Division III 119: There are six former state placers who have finished fourth or better in the field (and seven overall), including one state champion and two runners-up. 5. Division I 285: Four of last year’s eight placers are back. In addition, Beavercreek’s Adam Walls, a transfer from Graham, enters the mix. A senior, Walls is a three-time D-II state placer and was runner-up at 285 last year. Had Walls stayed in D-II he would be the overwhelming favorite. Not one placer at 285 from last year’s D-II tournament is back. 6. Division II 119: There is no defending champion in this bracket, but there are several who have been close, including two runners-up, a third and a fifth. And that doesn’t include Graham’s Kegley or Oak Harbor’s Drew Stone. 7. Division III 112: Bracket includes five state placers and two additional district champions with no prior podium time. Seven deep.
DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS
Division I (Weight last year/weight this year) Gus Sako, St. Edward (103/112) Jamie Clark, St. Edward (112/119) Sam White, Massillon Perry (112/125) Brad Squire, Wadsworth (119/140) *Won state title in 2007 Collin Palmer, St. Edward (135/140) *Going for fourth state title Seth Horner, Massillon Perry (130/145) Orlando Scales, Cincinnati Elder (215/215)
Division II Ty Mitch, Aurora (103/112) Zach Neibert, Graham (119/125) David Taylor, Graham (112/135) *Going for fourth state title Harrison Hightower, Hunting Valley University School (130/140)
Division III Hunter Stieber, Monroeville (103/119) Logan Stieber, Monroeville (119/125) *Going for third state title Cam Tessari, Monroeville (112/130) Zac Hancock, Troy Christian (130/140) Zach Toal, Troy Christian (145/160) *Going for third state title Chris Phillips, Monroeville (171/171)
Division I Jamie Clark, St. Edward (31-0, 119) Kevin Drake, Upper Arlington (50-0, 145) Andrew Gasber, Madison (40-0, 152) Greg Isley, Sylvania Southview (26-0, 189) Seth Nelson, Groveport-Madison (44-0, 215) Orlando Scales, Cincinnati Elder (35-0, 215)
Division II Nick Brascetta, Graham (41-0, 103) Alex Minnard, Fairfield-Union (42-0, 119) David Taylor, Graham (44-0, 135) Branko Busick, Steubenville (43-0, 215) Tyler Houska, Medina Highland (42-0, 215)
Division III Nick Goebel, Bloomdale Elmwood (43-0, 103) Spencer Pierce, Richwood North Union (40-0, 112) Logan Stieber, Monroeville (31-0, 125) Chris Block, Johnstown-Monroe (52-0, 140) Zach Toal, Troy Christian (43-0, 160) Justin Cheesman, Ashland Crestview (54-0, 189) Stuart Miller, Delphos Jefferson (47-0, 215)
Dayton Northridge senior Kyle Lingg is a first-year wrestler who is headed to state. Hard to believe? Yes. But Lingg is a heck of an athlete. He quarterbacked the Polar Bears to a 4-6 record by leading the Miami Valley in rushing with 1,915 yards and 23 TDs. He was second team D-IV All-Ohio as a defensive back. Lingg punched his ticket to state by finishing third at 160 pounds at the D-III Fairmont District, and will debut at state against Liberty Center’s Jake Elling in the championship preliminary round. Lingg is the school’s first sectional champion since 1998.
NUMBERS SAY SO
Don’t be surprised if Harrison’s Andrew Tumlin wins the D-I 189 title. Natural progression makes him the favorite. Tumlin is a four-time state qualifier who has finished third, fifth and seventh, respectively, prior. Tumlin is 38-1 and was the Fairfield District champion.
2009 DISTRICT CHAMPIONS/RESULTS
Division I Fairfield: Harrison (139) Darby: Davidson (119.5) Massillon Perry: (215) Mentor: St. Edward (197.5)
Division II Heath: Claymont (157.5) Fostoria: Padua Franciscan (125.5) Goshen: Graham (358) Firestone: University School (147)
Division III Fairmont: Troy Christian (217.5) Maple Heights: CVCA (186) Owens CC: Monroeville (139.5) Steubenville: Pleasant (138.5)
1. Blair Academy, N.J. 2. St. Paris Graham, Ohio 3. Apple Valley, Minn. 4. Central Dauphin, Pa. 5. Northampton, Pa. 6. Central Mountain, Pa. 7. Wyoming Seminary, Pa. 8. Huxley Ballard, Iowa 9. Christiansburg, Va. 10. Simley, Minn. 11. Brandon, Fla. 12. St. Mark, Del. 13. Clovis, Calif. 14. Cumberland Valley, Pa. 15. Wadsworth, Ohio 16. Massillon Perry, Ohio 17. St. Edward, Ohio 18. Blue Mountain, Pa. 19. Reynolds, Pa. 20. Montini Catholic, Ill. * No Ohio teams ranked among Nos. 21-40.
NATIONAL INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS
Ohio is home to several nationally-ranked wrestlers. Here’s a look at who they are heading into the state tournament and their rank (according to Amateur Wrestling News).
103 1. Nick Brascetta (So), Graham 4. Kory Mines (Jr), Maple Heights
119 1. Jamie Clark (Jr), St. Edward 6. Hunter Stieber (So), Monroeville
125 1. Logan Stieber (Jr), Monroeville 4. Sammy White (Sr), Massillon Perry 7. Zach Neibert (Sr), Graham
130 6. Felipe Martinez (Fr), Graham 11. Cam Tessari (So), Monroeville
135 1. David Taylor (Sr), Graham
140 2. Collin Palmer (Sr), St. Edward
160 6. Zach Toal (Sr), Troy Christian 7. Kyle Lang (Sr), Brecksville Broadview Heights
171 1. Chris Phillips (So), Monroeville
215 1. Orlando Scales (Sr), Cincinnati Elder
Hwt 5. Jeremy Johnson (Sr), Brecksville-Broadview Heights
According to the OHSAA. (Note: Times are approximate)
Thursday, March 5 2:00 p.m. Doors open Session Number 1 3:00 p.m. Division III Championship Preliminaries 4:20 p.m. Division II Championship Preliminaries 5:45 p.m. Division I Championship Preliminaries 7:25 p.m. Division III Consolation Round 1 8:00 p.m. Division II Consolation Round 1 8:45 p.m. Division I Consolation Round 1
Friday, March 6 8:00 a.m. Ticket Office Opens 9:00 a.m. Doors open. Session Number 2 10 a.m. Division III Championship Quarterfinals 10:40 a.m. Division II Championship Quarterfinals 11:20 a.m. Division I Championship Quarterfinals 12:15 p.m. Division III Consolations Round 2 1:00 p.m. Division II Consolations Round 2 1:45 p.m. Division I Consolations Round 2 5:30 p.m. Doors open Session Number 3 6:30 p.m. Divisions I, II and III Championship Semifinals 6:30 p.m. Divisions I, II and III Consolation Quarterfinals 8:50 p.m. Divisions I, II and III Consolation Quarterfinals
Saturday, March 7 8:00 a.m. Ticket Office Opens 9:00 a.m. Doors open. Session Number 4 10:00 a.m. Divisions I, II and III Consolations Semifinals 11:00 a.m. Divisions I, II and Third, Fifth and Seventh place matches 4:15 p.m. Doors open. 5:10 p.m. Hall of Fame Ceremonies Session Number 5 5:30 p.m. Parade of Champions 5:50 p.m. Divisions I, II and III First Place matches