The Ohio High School Athletic Association


 

 

2014 OHSAA
Individual Wrestling
State Tournament
Preview

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2014 STATE WRESTLING PREVIEW

By Brian Brakeman

The 77th Ohio High School State Wrestling Tournament will again feature an exciting blend of individual achievement and team accomplishment. This year’s event will showcase two of the nation’s top seniors, both strong favorites to win a fourth state title, and, potentially, epic team battles in both Division I and Division III. This year 672 wrestlers from 309 high schools will compete in 42 weight classes—a far cry from the 20 schools that sent at least one wrestler to the inaugural tournament in 1938 when team scores were not calculated and 10 weight classes were utilized.

Both potential four-time state champions compete in the Southwest District, and both are ranked nationally at the very top of their weight class. Micah Jordan (St. Paris Graham) is the latest of his family to reach the very peak of wrestling excellence. Undefeated this year, he is 95-1 over the past two seasons and 183-9 over his high school career. After coming back from a substantial deficit to win his first state title at 120-pounds as a freshman, he has dominated his competition at the state meet the past two years. Competing at 145-pounds, he would join his brother, Bo, as a four-time state champ, and become the fourth in his family (with father Jeff and uncle Jim) to do so. Beginning with family patriarch Jim’s first state title in 1979, the family has been successful at weight classes from 98-pounds to 160-pounds in winning 21 state titles – all representing St. Paris Graham. He’ll compete next year at Ohio State.

The other potential four-time titlist is the sturdy Jacob Danishek, competing for Dayton Christian. Danishek, also undefeated this year, sports a lifetime record of 182-5 and has won titles at three different weight classes (112, 132 and 145-pounds). He has outscored his opponents by a combined 32-6 margin in the last two state finals. A brilliant youth wrestler, he has built on that foundation to excel at the high school level. Already a champion at 152-pounds this year at the prestigious Ironman and Brecksville tournaments, he has committed to Indiana University.

Division II

Generally, over the course of a season the very best wrestlers tend to separate from one another with each finding their own weight class. Finding a pair of past state champions in the same bracket is relatively uncommon, while finding three competing in the same weight class is almost unprecedented. It has occurred twice in this century, but prior to that, if memory serves, it had not happened for decades. This year in Division II we again have a convergence of champions as three past winners are all competing at the 126-pound weight class. The defending champion at this class is the excellent senior Anthony Tutolo (Mentor Lake Catholic), with only one loss this year and already a two-time finalist. He faces the daunting prospect of having to defeat in consecutive rounds Eli Seipel (St. Paris Graham), who is the winner at 113-pounds in 2013, and Cameron Kelly (Bellbrook), a 2012 state champion and runner-up last year. Kelly lost twice to Seipel last year including the state final bout, but reversed those outcomes in last week’s district finals. Seipel has the firepower to challenge Tutolo in what should be a great semi-final matchup as his only two losses prior to Saturday were to former Ohio state champ Matt Kolodzik. And that will only be the appetizer to what promises to be an exceptional championship bout.  It should be quite a show.

It seems that not a year goes by that St. Paris Graham sets new records in Ohio wrestling competition. The Falcons are, again, a heavy favorite to win their 16th team title overall and their 14th consecutive title. Should they do so they would shatter the all-classification record of 13 consecutive titles held by Lakewood St. Edward (1997-2009). Qualifying wrestlers in the first 12 weight classes, all of whom were finalists (with eight champions), they may again flirt with the 200 point mark. Led by the brilliant Micah Jordan (145) they also return state champions Eli Seipel (126) and Alex Marinelli (160) along with placers Eli Stickley (113), Brett Moore (132) and Lane Thomas (170). Add in freshman sensations Kyle Lawson (138) and Justin Stickley (106) along with rapidly improving sophomores Mario Kastl (120) and Garrett Jordan (152) and this is a team built for the future since only two of the qualifiers are seniors. With a sparkling middle school team on the way up this dynasty looks capable of staying on top for some time.  

While the team title is not much in doubt, the battle for the runner-up trophy could be exciting. Perry, second last year, returns four of their five 2013 state scorers and almost 70 state points. Led by defending state heavyweight champ, Billy Miller, the high school’s first ever state titlist, they also boast state placers Colin Dees (120), Aaran Gessic (132) and Alec Schenk (182) and two other qualifiers. Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, third at last year’s state meet, has state champion Aaron Adkins (182) back along with state runner-up Ryan Skonieczny (138), state placer Dre’k Brumley (220) and four other state qualifiers. Perennial contender Uhrichsville Claymont, however, had a phenomenal district and qualified 11 wrestlers this year, including state champion Tyler Warner (106). They’ll also get points from three time placer (2-2-3) Cody Burcher (138), but will need help from state third Dustin Warner (120) and their many other qualifiers. They have strong point-scoring potential. Another team that peaked in district competition is the powerful squad from Toledo Central Catholic. Qualifying nine wrestlers including seven finalists, they are led by state champion Alex Mossing (152) and state placer Nate Hagan (132).  

Perhaps the deepest and strongest weight classes in Division II (after 126-pounds) are at 138 and 170-pounds. In the former, wrestlers with terrific credentials will start battling as early as the quarter-finals. Included in this group are three strong seniors – state runner-up and three-time placer Preston Bowshier (Springfield Kenton Ridge), two-time state runner-up and three-time placer Cody Burcher (Uhrichsville Claymont) and state runner-up and three-time placer Ryan Skonieczny (Akron St. Vincent St. Mary). Joining this trio are junior placer Kyle Kaminski (Parma Padua), who defeated Skonieczny the last two weekends and freshman star Kyle Lawson (St. Paris Graham) who placed 2nd in the Kentucky high school state tournament as an eighth grader last year. There is a similar situation at 170-pounds, where four excellent seniors will struggle to win their first state title. Two are returning state runners-up, the undefeated Seth Williams (Tiffin Columbian) and Aaron Schuette (Wauseon) while the other pair are Jimmy Sandlin (Carlisle), third last year, and Lane Thomas (St. Paris Graham) who was fifth. At the district level, Williams won over Schuette on a medical default in the district final while Sandlin has beaten Lane by a single point each of the last two weeks.

Division III

It could be the classic contest of team depth versus individual brilliance in what should be an exceptional battle for the Division III team title. Two-time state dual meet champion and state runner-up last year, Delta High School has a deep and powerful squad that includes state champion Jacob Speiss (113), former state runner-up and three-time placer Tyler Fahrer (160) and state placers Kyle Keller (120) and Dustin Marteney (132). Add in eight other qualifiers (their 12 is the most of any school) including sensational freshmen Drew (106) and Noah Mattin (126) and great transfers Drew Patchin (182) and Chance Veller (285) and it easy to rate them as the favorite. Delta has won four previous team titles, the last in 1999, but seems ready to add to that total. Dayton Christian may not match the overall qualification numbers posted by Delta (12 to 8), but they possess serious firepower, led by three-time champ Jacob Danishek (152). Also included among their qualifiers are three-time placer and state runner-up Christian Clary (113), state third Hunter Bray (106), Florida state runner-up Nick Vestal (145), and past state placers Michael May (120) and Alex Becker (138). May has been hot the last month, defeating both Keller and defending state champion Garrett Hancock (Troy Christian). Clearly, if Delta falters, this is a team poised to win the title. To add to the excitement, both teams have potential finalists at the first three weight classes. Mechanicsburg has five qualifiers led by a strong trio of former state runner-up Austin Reese (160), Kaleb Romero (138) and Joe Ziegler (145). They look to be, perhaps, third-best here. Apple Creek Waynedale, champions two years ago, has another solid team led by top-notch middleweights Brad Wardell (138), Reid Stanley (145), Dakota Stanley (152) all of them previous state placers, but lost four wrestlers in their go-to-state bouts while qualifying five. Other teams of note include Covington and Norwalk St. Paul with five qualifiers.

While Micah Jordan and Jacob Danishek are aiming for a fourth individual state title, there are, for the first time since 2006, no wrestlers in line for a third championship. However, there are 19 wrestlers in the three competitive classes hoping to win for the second time, including seven who are competing in Division III. Two of them, Sammy Gross (132) and Ryan Harris (170) represent Beachwood High School and both are also in line to become four-time placers. Harris, who was undefeated last year, lost this year only at the Ironman, and is headed to Ohio State. Gross won as a sophomore, but was upset last year while finishing third. He is headed to Northwestern. Perhaps the wrestler with the most difficult path to a second title in Division III is Jake Spiess (Delta). Lurking with him in the top half of the bracket is his state finals opponent from last year, Evan Ulinski, who he defeated in overtime, while in the other half of the bracket is three-time placer and state runner-up Christian Clary (Dayton Christian). Two other returning champions Jarred Ganger (Covington) and Garrett Hancock (Troy Christian) were teammates last year while winning at 113 and 120-pounds respectively. This year Ganger has leapfrogged Hancock and will compete at 126-pounds. Travis Linton (Rootstown), who won last year at 170-pounds, briefly flirted with the idea of returning to that weight class, but has elected to stay at 182-pounds. A likely finals opponent is the Jamestown Greeneview senior Armani Robinson, who has been second and third the last two years. That would be one of the highlight bouts on Saturday night. Patrick Garren (Columbus Bishop Ready) is one of the best heavyweights in the state and will defend his title against a varied field. He has lost only twice the past two years. There is an abundance of intriguing weight classes in Division III, including the action at 160-pounds. It features three former state runners-up each exiting a different district. The pairings are interesting with the junior Kollin Moore (Norwayne) drawing away from Tyler Fahrer (Delta) and the dynamic Austin Reese (Mechanicsburg) in what will be a great competition. At 145-pounds there is much the same dynamic with state runner-up Logan Lacure (Jamestown Greeneview) up four weight classes matching up with former state runners-up Nick Vestal (Dayton Christian) and Logan Day (Archbold). Both Vestal and Day lost early at the district tourneys, but came back strong to qualify. LaCure will be the favorite to make the finals from the top half of the bracket, but it will be a real donnybrook in the bottom half with Vestal and Day battling some very strong competitors.      

Division I

Only three times in the last 36 years has Lakewood St. Edward failed to win a team trophy (28 titles and 5 runner-up trophies), and the last time it happened was in 1993. It is a majestic accomplishment. However, it appears that 2014 may be a year of change as a number of strong squads seem ready to create a new paradigm in Division I wrestling. Looking to take charge is State Dual Meet champion Massillon Perry who qualified 11 out of the always tough Mentor District. Starting in 2003 Massillon Perry has finished second in the team event a total of nine times, losing to Lakewood St. Edward on each occasion. Even in 2012 when Perry had four individual champions they finished a somewhat distant second. A beautifully balanced squad, they lead with past state champions Jose Rodriguez (113) and David Bavery (126) and follow up with placers Casey Sparkman (152), Tony Dailey (160) and Isaac Bast (170). Add in district finalists Thomas Genetin (106), Jake Newhouse (120) and Stefano Millin (220) and this is, clearly, a team that can score throughout the entire lineup.

In the previous 76 state tournaments no school from the Southwest District has ever won a big school team title. With a powerful quartet of upper weight wrestlers, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller may have just enough explosiveness to end that long drought. Their strength begins at 170-pounds with state runner-up Quinton Rosser and then continues with state champion Dakota Sizemore (182), two-time placer Jerry Thornberry (195) and finishes strong with state champion Chalmers Frueauf (220). Factor in state placers Connor Ziegler (120) and Jacoby Ward (132) along with three other qualifiers and this is a squad that could generate well over 100 points. State Dual Meet runner-up Brecksville-Broadview Heights, like Massillon Perry, features a strong and well-balanced lineup that qualified eight out of the insanely difficult Cleveland State District. Led by two-time state runner-up Austin Assad (120), they will need scoring from everyone to make a run at the team title. District champions Justin DeMicco (126), Austin Strnad (160) and Josh Murphy (195) should help provide that impetus. Lakewood St. Edward is still taking six qualifiers to Columbus, including three with past experience. The upper weight trio of Gabe Dzuro (182), Parker Knapp (220) and Ralph Nichols (285), along with L.J. Bentley (113), could pile up points. Perrysburg is a team that cannot be overlooked after their brilliant wrestling at Cleveland State. They qualified eight,  including state placers Cale Bonner (285), J. P. Newton (152) and Mario Guillen (113) along with the powerful Rocco Caywood. In other years Marysville and Oregon Clay might be contenders as they both qualified five very fine wrestlers.

There are only four returning state champions in Division I—an unusually low number—and they represent only two schools—Massillon Perry and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller. However, this creates a tournament where there is evident parity at many weight classes, with the likelihood of extremely competitive bouts from the very first round. A good example is at 120-pounds where as many as half-dozen competitors have a legitimate chance at the title. Leading the way is the two-time state runner-up Austin Assad (Brecksville-Broadview Heights), now a junior, who has made a habit of winning bouts by razor-thin margins—a helpful, but sometimes dangerous trait at the state level. Emerging from that same Cleveland State District are state runner-up Armando Torres (Elyria) who lost in overtime to Assad and state third Josh Heil who has also lost in overtime to Assad. It’s a trio that knows one another well and wrestles close, low-scoring bouts. One of the best freshman of the year is at this weight class and Corey Shie (Cincinnati LaSalle), winner at the Top Gun and the SWOCA, is very impressive. He lost a one-move bout to Assad earlier in the year. He may have to run the gauntlet of CSU qualifiers to win. Add in Alex Mackall (Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit), Jake Newhouse (Massillon Perry) and Jonathan Furnas (Olentangy Liberty) and this will be a weight to watch.

Of the four returning state champions, Jose Rodriguez (Massillon Perry) may face the one of the deepest fields. State runner-up in New York two years ago he took the title with a 6-5 win over Assad. He missed part of this season with an early injury, but was sharp winning the Mentor District. There are at least four other contenders with solid credentials. Two-time Indiana state placer Hayden Lee (Marysville) shut out Rodriguez in winning the Top Gun and has been outstanding, while wrestling a difficult schedule. Shakur Laney (Groveport Madison) lost a tight one-point semi-final bout to Assad last year while finishing fourth and sophomore state placer Mario Guillen (Perrysburg) continues to show improvement with his losses all administered by top notch competitors. L.J. Bentley (Lakewood St. Edward) has wrestled the usual difficult schedule and was fifth at the Ironman and won against a strong field at Medina and Cleveland State.

 

 

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