Graham's Max Thomusseit celebrates the Falcons seventh title Saturday. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)
For 72 years Ohio has held a state championship in wrestling. None of the previous 71 though can compare with the latest. Saturday a 58-year old record was broken, the team scoring record was shattered and there was a four-time winner. And that was all done by one team. Want more? There’s plenty.
Greatest ever? Arguably. No, make that definitely.
For 72 years Ohio has held a state championship in wrestling. None of the previous 71 can compare with the latest.
Saturday at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center, the 72nd annual State Wrestling Championships produced history, heroics and the flat out unbelievable.
A 58-year old record was broken, the team scoring record was shattered and there was a four-time winner. And that was all done by one team.
Want more? There’s plenty.
BEST OF ALL-TIME?
Can you picture a football team scoring 100 points in a state final? How about a basketball team scoring 200? That’s the equivalent of what St. Paris Graham did en route to its ninth Division II state title and 11th overall.
The Falcons scored a head-shaking 282 points and produced seven individual champions. Both are state records.
The previous points record of 229 was set by Lakewood St. Edward in 2007. Graham had 221 by the end of competition Friday.
The D-II runner-up – Uhrichsville Claymont – finished a full 201 points behind.
As for the seven individual state titles, that mark breaks the old record of six set by Cleveland West in 1951.
Graham qualified 13 wrestlers to state and all of them stood on the podium. The Falcons also had wrestlers place second (two), third (three) and seventh.
“I’m very happy with our performance,” Graham head coach Jeff Jordan said. “A lot of people were talking about the record and whether we could break six and get seven and I said somebody is going to have to step up and do something. We were kind of favored in five of them, but when Kyle Ryan won that one I said ‘Well you know maybe this is possible.’
“This is a great team and this is probably the closest team I’ve ever coached. We’re all on the same page. It’s a real privilege to be the head coach of this team.”
Graham’s winners were: sophomore Nick Brascetta (103), senior Zach Neibert (125), freshman Felipe Martinez (130), senior David Taylor (135), senior Brian Stephens (145), sophomore Kyle Ryan (160) and junior Max Thomusseit (189).
Thomusseit pushed the Falcons past the brink with a hard-fought 4-1 win over University School senior Nick Mills. Taylor and Martinez won by pin. Brascetta and Stephens won by major decision.
It was a third place finish by senior James Mannier at 171 that gave the Falcons the scoring record.
“James Mannier had a heartbreak last night when he lost in the semis,” Jordan said. “He’s the only senior who didn’t win a title but you know what? He’s the one who broke the (scoring) record this morning when he pinned the guy. That got us over 229 points and I’m real happy James did that. I’m really happy that Max finished off the night with the win too.”
Jordan joked that Thomussiet had told him he hadn’t been able to sleep for the last three weeks.
“He would just lie in bed thinking about winning a state title,” Jordan said. “Now hopefully he’ll be able to get some sleep.”
ZZZs will be easy for the coach to catch too.
“I never thought that we’d break that record,” Jordan said. “But once we put the guys in the finals we knew we had a legitimate shot at it.
“Boy, did we perform.”
NOT SO FAST
Much has been made this year of St. Edward’s possible demise. Who’s laughing now?
That chuckle you hear is from Lakewood.
The Eagles withstood challenges from Wadsworth, Massillon Perry and surprise Brecksville-Broadview Heights to capture their 13th straight D-I title and 25th overall. Only Cincinnati St. Xavier’s boys swim team (30) has more state titles in one sport.
During the regular season the Eagles lost twice to Wadsworth in duals and lost to Massillon Perry at the Medina Invitational. Both teams were still in contention after the first two sessions, but St. Ed separated itself during the semifinals.
The Eagles advanced four to finals and took home two titles: junior Jamie Clark (119) and senior Collin Palmer (140).
St. Edward ended with 111.5 points, while Perry was second – for the sixth time in seven years – with 91. Broadview Heights (84) was third and Cleveland St. Ignatius fourth (76.5). Wadsworth finished fifth (74).
CALL OF DUTY
Some saw Troy Christian senior Jordan Thome’s loss in the D-III quarterfinals as a huge upset. And on paper it was. In reality it was a win – literally – for TC that he was even out there.
Thome – a four-time qualifier and three-time placer – broke his ankle at last week’s Fairmont District yet tried to gut out the state tournament. He wore a brace for his D-III 135 opener and beat Monroeville’s Cal Clark. Thome then dropped his next two bouts. The victory over Clark though made all the difference. The three points Thome earned in that match helped propel the Eagles to their third straight D-III title. TC beat Monroeville by one point (113-112). Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy was third with an impressive showing (103 points).
Thome – appropriately – is going to wrestle for the U.S. Military Academy.
“He broke his ankle in the semis in two spots last week,” TC head coach Steve Goudy said. “He’s got an appointment to West Point and we were worried about him coming out here, but he put a brace on it and wrestled a kid from Monroeville in the first round. That’s the difference. He won and we got three instead of them getting three. We win it by one point.
“He stepped up huge for us. I’m really proud of that kid and the leadership he showed. Every point counts.”
TC had three individual champions in seniors Zac Hancock (140), Chris Burns (145) and Zach Toal (160). The state title was Hancock’s second and Toal’s third.
The Eagles also had two seventh place finishers Saturday morning that earned a point apiece.
TC knows a thing about winning close ones. Two years ago the Eagles edged Marion Pleasant 154-151.5.
“Getting three in a row has been a real focus all year,” Goudy said. “We just had the right kids step up at the right time. The kids see those wall brackets up on the wall and they want to get up there. They want to get on that wall.”
TWO FOR FOUR
Graham’s Taylor and St. Edward’s Palmer added their names to an elite list by winning their fourth state titles. Taylor became the 17th wrestler in history to accomplish the feat, minutes before Palmer became the 18th. Both received standing ovations after their match and during the awards ceremony.
Taylor added his 135 championship to a resume that includes titles at 103 (freshman and Sophomore) and 112 (junior). Ranked No. 1 in the country, Taylor wraps his high school career with a record of 180-2. He hasn’t lost for two years and won at least 42 matches every high school season. Taylor is headed to Iowa State.
Palmer ends his career 147-4 and adds his 140 title to a haul that includes hardware from 112 (freshman), 125 (sophomore) and 135 (junior).
Headed to Ohio State, Palmer is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
The duo both became the third wrestlers from their schools to win four state titles. No other program can claim more than one.
Graham does have two other wrestlers who earned two of their four state titles as a Falcon. Both Dustin and C.P. Schlatter won two titles apiece at Graham. They won their other two at Massillon Perry and Columbus DeSales, respectively.
WAY TO REBOUND
A year after losing his first two state matches and going home, Cleveland St. Ignatius senior Jerome Robinson went to the top of the podium. Robinson beat St. Edward’s Gus Sako 4-2 in overtime to net the Wildcats first state title since 1993.
Robinson finished third at 103 as a freshman, but last year bowed out after two matches at 119.
Not to be outdone, Ignatius junior David Habat added another title for the Wildcats at 145. Habat who finished third the last two years won arguably the state tournament’s toughest and deepest weight class.
Broadview Heights didn’t win the D-I team title, but the Bees showed they are a program on the rise.
Coming into the state tournament, BH had two state champions in program history. Saturday they added two more and had a runner-up.
Senior Kyle Lang completed the cycle, adding a state title to previous second, third and fourth place finishes. Lang pinned Hilliard Davidson’s J.T. Rice in 3:04 to win the 160 title.
At 285, nationally-ranked Jeremy Johnson won the title with a 5-1 win over Parma Heights Valley Forge’s James Meder.
Senior Mike Lanigan nearly added another title, losing 5-3 in overtime in the 189 final.
Monroeville missed out on the D-III team title by a point, but it made one in the process. The Eagles enter next season as the D-III favorite thanks to a foursome of state champions – again.
A year after winning four individual state titles, Monroeville did it again with the same horses. And they did it convincingly.
Sophomore Hunter Stieber won his second title by pinning Galion Northmor’s Tyler Heminger in 1:42, while junior Logan Stieber, his brother, won his third title via tech fall (16-1) over Patrick Henry’s Alex Lopez.
Sophomore Cam Tessari won his second title with a major decision (13-0) over Bellaire’s Erik Canter and the hammer – sophomore Chris Phillips – won his second title with a pin of Apple Creek Waynedale’s Jonathan Beam in 2:28.
Miamisburg junior Shawn Fayette won his school’s first state title with a 9-4 decision over West Chester Lakota West’s Ty Davis in the D-I 130 final.
Fayette, who was second at 125 last year, has a mentor that knows something about winning state titles. Burg’s head coach Willie Wineberg was a four-time champion at Fairfield and has built the Burg program into one of respectability.
The Vikings have won four straight Greater Western Ohio Conference titles and are suddenly a regular at the state tournament. THREE IN THREE
There were three wrestlers in D-III that won their school’s first state titles: Blanchester’s Jake Howe (152), Delphos Jefferson’s Stuart Miller (215) and Greenwich South Central’s Nick Hamilton (285).
Miller also wrapped an undefeated (51-0) season.
Bloomdale Elmwood’s wrestling history contained two state champions before Saturday. Now it has three – and nearly had four.
Sophomore Nick Goebel capped an undefeated season (47-0) by winning the school’s first title since 1998 with a victory at 103. Senior Alex Betts tried to duplicate the feat but fell short at 145.
There were a total of nine wrestlers who finished undefeated seasons. They were:
Tyler Houska, Medina Highland (46-0, D-II, 215)
Jamie Clark, St. Edward (35-0, 119, D-I)
Orlando Scales, Cincinnati Elder (39-0, 215, D-I)
Nick Brascetta, Graham (45-0, 103, D-II)
David Taylor, Graham (48-0, 135, D-II)
Nick Goebel, Bloomdale Elmwood (47-0, 103, D-III)
Logan Stieber, Monroeville (35-0, 125, D-III)
Zach Toal, Troy Christian (47-0, 160)
Stuart Miller, Delphos Jefferson (51-0, 215, D-III).
There were several wrestlers who made history or snapped long exiles from the state podium for their school. The list includes:
Bryce Baker, Mechanicsburg, D-III, 112: Became school’s second champion and first since 1996.
Travis Harbet, Garrettsville Garfield, D-III, 119: Became school’s first two-time placer with a fourth place finish.
Chris Block, Johnstown-Monroe, D-III, 140: Fifth place finish is highest ever by a Johnnies wrestler.
Beau Bowden, North Lima South Range, D-III, 171: Became school’s first placer ever by finishing third.
Matt Dues, Harrod Allen East, D-III, 189: Fourth place finish earned school’s first visit to the podium ever.
Ethan Hayes, New Lebanon Dixie, D-III, 215: Second place finish is highest ever by a Greyhounds wrestler.
Matt Hefner, Lima Bath, D-II, 135: Became school’s highest placer ever with third place finish.
Corey Dulaney, Whitehall-Yearling, D-II, 145: Earned school’s first spot on the podium since 1990 with fourth place finish.
Shane Gifford, Circleville Logan Elm, D-II, 152: Third place finish is highest ever by a Braves wrestler.
Andrew Nealen, New Richmond, D-II, 160: Is school’s first state placer since 1993. Finished sixth.
Danny Demick, Chillicothe, D-II, 285: Earned school’s first spot on the podium since 1996 with fourth place finish.
Dennis Cox, Bowling Green, D-I, 285: Became school’s first placer since 1993 with eighth place finish.
BLAME THE ECONOMY
The finals and overall attendance for the state tournament were the lowest they have been since the event moved from Wright State’s Nutter Center in 1999.
A crowd of 14,787 witnessed Saturday’s finals, while the five-session total was 64,914. Last year crowds of 14,498 and 65,835 took in the finals and tournament, respectively. In 2007 the numbers were 15,685 and 69,746.
The largest five-session total ever is 75,582 in 2003.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The 73rd annual state wrestling championships will be held March 4-6, 2010 at the Schottenstein Center.
KEEP AN EYE OUT
For Ohio High Magazine’s Winter State Tournament Commemorative Issue due out in early April. The special supplement will include a recap of the entire state tournament and feature a photo gallery of every state champion in every weight class in each division. We’ll also unveil our JJHuddle/Ohio High All-State Tournament Team and name our Ohio High/Huntington Bank State Wrestler of the Year. Click here for more information.