Home|Sports & Tournaments|Wrestling|Wrestling - 2019-20|2020 OHSAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament Preview

2020 OHSAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament Preview

2020 OHSAA State Wrestling Individual Tournament Preview

By Josh Lowe, InterMat
Josh Lowe is in his eleventh year as the national high school wrestling analyst for InterMat, while also contributing to additional local and national wrestling media outlets for several years. Lowe is a wrestling tournament coordinator for his alma mater, Beachwood High School, including an OHSAA sectional tournament. Outside of wrestling, Josh is a licensed OHSAA baseball, fast-pitch softball, and soccer official. He also serves as a volunteer assistant soccer coach at Beachwood High School. Lowe has Bachelor's degrees in Mathematics and Economics from The Ohio State University, as well as an MBA in Accounting from Baldwin-Wallace University. He is currently an accounting professional at a nursing home, resides in Mayfield heights, and was honored with an OHSAA Media Service Award at the 2013 individual state wrestling tournament.

For the first time since 1992, the state wrestling individual tournament finals will be conducted on a Sunday. On that particular March 15th at the Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University, the state title winning teams were Lakewood St. Edward (Division I), Uhrichsville Claymont (Division II), and Thompson Ledgemont (Division III).
Ledgemont High School is now consolidated into Berkshire, as is the runner-up in Division III that year, Cadiz now part of Harrison Central. For both Claymont and Ledgemont, the state title won that year is the only one the school has won in the sport; while for St. Edward is was a 12th in 15 years, with the Eagles currently in another stretch of 21 titles in 23 years.
Also, in that year, a senior heavyweight from Columbus St. Francis DeSales won his third state title. Luke Fickell would go on to be a four-year starter at defensive tackle for Ohio State, and will be in his fourth year as head football coach at the University of Cincinnati this fall.
Unlike the previous four years, there is no three-time state champion entering the tournament. However, two wrestlers can join Fickell as three-time state champions. Both will be competing in Division I weight classes that feature four additional returning/previous state placers: Bryce Hepner (St. Edward) at 152 pounds and Jacob Lagoa (Ashtabula Lakeside) at 170.
For the third time in four years, and seventh time overall, there will be a wrestler entering this year’s state tournament as a three-time state runner-up. Nick Kiussis (Brunswick) finished second in 2014-2016 before earning two major decisions and two seven-point decision victories on the way to a 2017 state title in Division I at 160 pounds. Last year, Ben Pasiuk (Carrollton) was runner-up in 2016-2018 before winning a state title, 6-2 over Ethan Hernandez (Norwalk) in the Division II 160-pound final.
Previously, Steven Blunk (Cuyahoga Falls CVCA/Streetsboro) finished second in 2001-2003 before earning four straight technical falls on the way to a state title at 135 pounds in Division II; Josh Horne (Pickerington (Central)) was second in 2002-2004 before beating Mikey Davis (Hilliard Davidson) 6-4 in the Division I final at 140; Ryan Fields (Lakota West) lost to freshmen in the 2005-2007 state finals before losing a 2007 state final rematch in the 2008 Division I 130 pound state semifinal on the way to a fourth place finish; while Tyler Heminger (Galion Northmor) lost to eventual four-time state champions in the 2008-2010 state finals before a pin in 2:23 over Nick Goebel (Elmwood) in the 2011 Division III 119 final.
This year, Cole McComas (Lisbon Beaver) will be competing in Division II at 138 pounds. As a freshman at 106 pounds, he lost 12-6 to Jacob Decatur (Cuyahoga Falls CVCA) in the state final; as a sophomore, it was a 5-3 overtime loss to Tanner Jordan (St. Paris Graham Local) at 113; while last year it was a 3-2 loss to Davin Rhoads (Louisville) at 126. McComas will be joined in this weight class by junior Nick Moore (Graham), who is already a two-time state runner-up; they will be in opposite half-brackets.
Milestone achievements are in play on the team side this weekend, as state dual team champions Louisville (Division II) and Milan Edison (Division III) seek to win their first program titles in the individual tournament. Both schools placed third in last year’s individual tournament, which is the highest finish their programs have earned; for Milan Edison it was its third time finishing in that position over the previous five years. Each also qualified a school-record number of wrestlers to the state tournament, eight for Louisville and 10 for Milan Edison.
In terms of the individual star power, 21 additional individuals join Hepner and Lagoa as having won a state title previously in their career. Unlike last year when there were no weight class brackets featuring multiple returning/previous state champions, this year there are two such brackets as there were from 2012-2018.
Kyle Rowan (Perry) and Garrett Lautzenheiser (Louisville) won Division II state titles last year at 106 and 120 pounds, this year they compete at 120 pounds; Lautzenheiser is 2-0 against Rowan on the season, winning the district final 3-1 after winning 10-4 in the Brecksville Holiday final on December 30th. At 132 pounds in Division III, Ethan Turner (Troy Christian) and Casey Barnett (Milan Edison) both won state titles in 2018; Turner was runner-up last year at 126, while Barnett placed fifth at 113.
Hepner, McComas, and Turner anchor a group of 14 wrestlers seeking a fourth placement in the state tournament this weekend. Among those additional wrestlers are returning state champions Mick Burnett (Elyria) and Anthony D’Alesio (Canfield); returning state runner-up Cael Woods (West Holmes); along with previous state runners-up Logan Agin (Lancaster) and Dylan Shawver (Elyria), who both are competing at 126 pounds in Division I.
Champions of the last five individual state tournaments, eight of nine, and 21 of the last 23, St. Edward will enter the state tournament with a tournament-high 12 state qualifiers. That total includes four district champions: returning state placers Richard Delsanter (120), Scott Richter (132), and Hudson Hightower (170) along with returning state champion Padraic Gallagher (160). Additional Eagles with state experience include returning state runner-up Sean Seefeldt (113), two-time state champion Bryce Hepner (152), and now three-time state qualifier Michael Garcar (182).
Dual team runner-up Elyria qualified nine to the state tournament, eight of whom were district finalists, while returning state runner-up Enrique Munguia (152) finished in third place. Leading the way for the Pioneers are three district champions: 2018 state runner-up Dylan Shawver (126), returning state champion Mick Burnett (138), and returning state placer Jake Evans (182). District runner-up with previous state experience include returning state champion Peyton Fenton (113) along with returning state placers Bryce Allison (120) and Nate Burnett (132).
Two other trophy contenders shared the district tournament title at Mentor, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Wadsworth. Brecksville, state runners-up in 2018, qualified nine to the state tournament, including four district champions: two-time state placer Jimmy Carmany (132), now two-time state qualifier James Bronstrup (138), 2018 state champion Victor Voinovich (145), and returning state placer Ethan Hatcher (220). Making return appearances to the state tournament are district runners-up Anthony Rizzo (160) and returning state runner-up Ben Vanadia (195).
Wadsworth, which has top five finishes in the state tournament four of the last five years, brings 10 to the state tournament, including five district champions: returning state placers Mason Brugh (113), Dom Loparo (182), and Jon List (195); 2018 state placer Logan Messer (160); and freshman Chris Earnest (106). Making return appearances to the state tournament are juniors Mikey Lewarchick (120) and two-time state placer Landen Hacker (126).
The 113-pound weight class features the most returning state placers, including Fenton and Seefeldt, who met in last year’s 106-pound state final. It should be noted that Jacob Moon (Oregon Clay), who placed third in this weight class, beat both of those wrestlers on the way to a district title at Perrysburg.  William Doepker (Cincinnati Elder), a 2018 state placer, Cael Saxton (Avon), and Dylan Le (Dublin Scioto) are in the opposite quarter of the half-bracket containing Moon; while Fenton and Seefeldt are in the other half-bracket, with Brugh in the same quarter as Seefeldt.
The 126-pound weight class features two previous runners-up in Agin and Shawver, along with four additional returning state medalists. Agin faces 2018 state placer Nick Sabin (Mentor) in the opening round, while returning state placer Cole Skinner (Cincinnati LaSalle) is a possible quarterfinal opponent. Undefeated returning state placer Antoine Allen (Cincinnati Princeton) and Hacker are in the opposite quarter-bracket in Shawver’s half of the draw.
One of the most anticipated matches of the tournament could come in the semifinal round at 170 pounds, with two-time state champion Jacob Lagoa (Ashtabula Lakeside) and three-time state placer Nevan Snodgrass (Kettering Fairmont) being district champions paired in the same half-bracket. Returning state placers Cole Foor (Pataskala Watkins Memorial) and Hudson Hightower (St. Edward) are the district champions in the opposite half-bracket.
Derek Fields (Brunswick), a 2018 state qualifier, had one of the most impressive district tournament runs this past weekend at Perrysburg. In the 152-pound weight class, he upended returning state runner-up Munguia 8-4 in the semifinal before beating two-time state champion Hepner 5-3 in the final. Two-time state placer Daniel Segura (Dublin Scioto) is the district champion in the same half-bracket as Fields. Two-time state placer Daniel Patten (Stow-Munroe Falls) and returning state placer Andrew Knick (Clayton Northmont) are the district champions in the opposite half-bracket; Hepner could face Patten with Munguia facing Knick in possible quarterfinal bouts.
Five wrestlers join Allen as being undefeated entering the state tournament in Division I – Kollin Howard (Maple Hts.) at 120 pounds, Connor Euton (Westerville North) at 138, Gavin Bell (Beavercreek) at 182, returning state champion Seth Shumate (Dublin Coffman) at 195, and Daniel Bucknavich (Midview) at 285.
Nine returning/previous state champions are present in this division. The additional wrestlers to those already mentioned are Dustin Norris (Cincinnati LaSalle) at 120 pounds and Jacob Padilla (Huber Hts. Wayne) at 285. Padilla is in the same half-bracket as the undefeated Bucknavich; while returning state placer Max Millin (Massillon Perry), who has two wins over Padilla this season, is a district champion in the opposite half-bracket.
Other teams with a notable number of state qualifiers include Hilliard Darby district champion Dublin Coffman with seven; Delaware Hayes and Lebanon each qualifying a school-record six; along with Centerville, Cincinnati LaSalle, Oregon Clay, and Perrysburg each with five state tournament participants.
Louisville ended the St. Paris Graham Local stranglehold on the state championship trophy in the dual team event with a winner-take-all victory in overtime at 285 pounds. The Falcons had won titles in the seven years that the event was held, and are sitting on a 19-year streak of titles in the individual tournament. With the state titles earned by Garrett Lautzenheiser and Davin Rhoads in last year’s tournament, the Leopards ended a 33-year drought bereft an individual state title.
Lautzenheiser (120) and Rhoads (132) both won district titles and are joined by six other Leopards for a school-record total of eight state qualifiers. The hero of the dual-team tournament, now three-time state qualifier Blake Robbins (220) joins that pair as a district champion, while no wrestlers finished fourth. Other wrestlers making return state tournament appearances are three-time state placer Jax Leonard (170) and returning state placer Brent Paulus (195).
Also qualifying eight to the state tournament was the just mentioned Graham Falcons, who won the Wilmington district with six district champions: returning state placer Nolan Gessler (113), freshman Nick Hart (126), returning state qualifiers Chris Kelly (132) and Nolan Neves (220), two-time state runner-up Nick Moore (138), and state champion Alek Martin (145). Making a third state tournament appearance is Trace Braun (152), who was runner-up at district. This is the fewest state qualifiers for the Falcons since 2013, when they also qualified eight to state.
The third team in the season-long conversation about the Division II state title has been Aurora, which qualified seven to the state tournament out of a very tough Alliance district. That number ties the school-record set last year when the Greenmen were runners-up to Graham at both the dual team and individual state tournaments. Five wrestlers won district titles: two-time state runner-up David Cumberledge (145) and returning state runner-up Dylan Fishback (160); along with Nic Willingham (138), Tyler Lillard (152), and Evan Anderson (195) who are in their state tournament debuts. Returning state placer Ethan Anderson (170) was a district runner-up.
The deepest weight class in this division with respect to returning state placers is at 120 pounds, anchored by returning state champions Lautzenheiser and Rowan. Trey Finnearty (Athens) and two-time state placer Michael Petrella (Columbus Bishop Hartley) are in the opposite quarter-bracket of Lautzenheiser’s half. Rowan is paired in an opening round match against 2018 state placer Chase Huff (Goshen), and could then face two-time state placer Tyler Masters (Millersburg West Holmes) in the quarterfinal; while returning state placer Dierre Clayton (Akron SVSM) is in the other quarter-bracket of the top half after losing by 14-3 major decision to Lautzenheiser in the district semifinal.
Another anticipated weight class for depth in Division II is at 113 pounds, where there are a pair of returning state runners-up: Cael Woods (Millersburg West Holmes) and Kenneth Crosby (Akron SVSM). Woods is in the same quarter-bracket as returning state placer Brandon Sauter (Batavia) and two-time state placer Jake Hamulak (Chardon), who meet in the first round; Crosby is in the other quarter of that half-bracket after losing by 13-4 major decision to returning state placer Brendan McCrone (Mentor Lake Catholic) in the district semifinal.
McCrone features in the opposite half-bracket along with returning state third place medalist Gessler. The other returning state placer of that top half-bracket is Blake Sheppard (New Lexington), who is paired in the same quarter as McCrone.
A trio of returning top three finishers anchor the 145-pound weight class, led by two wrestlers that have made the state final each of the previous last two seasons. Martin (Graham) was state champion last year at 138 after taking second at 120, while Cumberledge was runner-up at 152 and 170 the last two seasons in Division III for Ashtabula St. John. They have split matches this season, Cumberledge winning 9-5 in January and Martin 7-3 in state dual team semifinal last month.
Joining Cumberledge in the top half-bracket is returning state third place finisher Elijah Hunter (Sandusky), while the district champion in the half-bracket with Martin is two-time state placer Peyton Kellar (Vincent Warren), who is undefeated on the season.
Kellar is one of four wrestlers to enter the Division II state tournament with an undefeated record. Joining him are Dylan Dodson (Newark Licking Valley) at 160 pounds, Hadyn Danals (Caledonia River Valley) at 170, and Gabe Phillips (Norwalk) at 195.
Dodson is in the same half-bracket as Fishback, and the two met last year in the state quarterfinal, a match Fishback won by fall in 3:07. Before that was to happen, each could face a returning/previous state placer in the second round: Derrick Coleman (Clyde) is in the same quarter as Fishback, which would be a state semifinal rematch, while Jarett Bishcoff (Wauseon) paired with Dodson.
Danals in the same quarter of the draw as returning state placer Ethan Anderson, with three-time state placer Leonard in the other quarter of the bottom half. Two-time state placer Ethan Hernandez (Norwalk), runner-up last year at 160, is joined by district champion Zayne Lehman (Revere) in the top half-bracket; Lehman upended Leonard 7-6 in the quarterfinal and Ethan Anderson 3-2 in the final at district, which reversed losses against those opponents from earlier in the season.
Six returning state champions in five weight classes are present in this division. Additional state champions to those already mentioned are Anthony D’Alesio (Canfield) at 182 and Alex Coleman (Hamilton Ross) at 285. D’Alesio is joined by four other returning state placers in his bracket; there is a possible quarterfinal match against David Tuttle (Steubenville). Returning state runner-up Justin Mayes (Bellevue) anchors the top half-bracket, while two-time state placer Cole Hivnor (Lake Catholic) and returning state place Trevor Stewart (Urbana) are paired in a first-round match in the other quarter of that half-bracket.
Other teams with a notable number of state qualifiers include Lake Catholic with eight, which ties a school record set three time previously including last year; Claymont district champion Lisbon Beaver qualified seven; Sandusky Perkins with six, which ties a school record set last year; while Bellevue, West Holmes, and New Lexington qualified five each.
Milan Edison was dominant on the way to its second title in the dual team state tournament, adding this year to the title the Chargers won back in 2017. However, when they won the dual team in 2017, they were fifth in the individual tournament. The Chargers qualified a school-record 10 wrestlers to this weekend’s tournament, led by three district champions in freshman Max Hermes (106) ,2018 state champ Casey Barnett (138), and returning state placer Jacob Brewer (195). Wrestlers making return state appearances include returning state placer Alec Homan (106) and Shadrick Slone (152).
Troy Christian won the Troy district advancing eight wrestlers to the state tournament, led by a pair of district champions in 2018 state champion Ethan Turner (132) and 2018 state placer Andrew Shaffer (152). Wrestlers making a return state tournament appearance include state placers Caleb Schroer (106), Troy Kennedy (120), and Austin Awan (138) along with now three-time state qualifier Craig Montgomery (182).
Should Milan Edison or Troy Christian stumble slightly with their numerical advantage in state qualifiers, Xenia Legacy Christian is well-positioned to contend for a team trophy with all five of their participants having the potential to finish as mid-to-high placers. Returning state champion Gavin Brown (138) along with returning state placers Matt Ellis (113) and Cameron Lacure (126) anchor the quintet, all of whom are sophomores or younger.
The 120-pound weight class in this division features the highest number of returning state medalists among the 42 being contested across the three divisions. Eight state medalists are in the field, led by five wrestlers that finished in the top three last year, including state champion Lucian Brink (Coshocton).
Brink has a 156-1 record the last three seasons, losing only 7-3 to Barnett in the 2018 state final, is in the same quarter-bracket as two-time state placer Cael Vanderhorst (Covington). Also undefeated on the season is Jake Manley (Otsego), who placed third at state last year in Division II, and is in the other quarter of the half-bracket anchored by Brink.
Returning state runner-up Max Shore (Miami East) has four wins over Vanderhorst on the season, including 6-3 in the district final. He is in the same quarter-bracket as returning state runner-up Gavin Owens (Eastwood), who has lost five times to Manley this season, including 6-3 in the district final. Two-time state third placer Caleb Edwards (Rootstown) is the other district champion; he faces returning state placer Troy Kennedy (Troy Christian) in the opening round, while the winner could face returning state placer Alec Homan (Milan Edison) in the quarterfinal.
Returning state champion Gavin Brown is joined by six other returning/previous state medalists in the 138-pound bracket. Brown could face two-time state placer Brian Palmer (Buckeye Local) in the quarterfinal, while returning state placer Austin Shepherd (Norwayne) is the other district champion in the bottom half-bracket.
Two-time state placer Logan Hursey (Newcomerstown) pinned Palmer in the first period of the district final; if he wins first round, his quarterfinal would be against either returning state placer Austin Awan or 2018 state placer Jake White (Manchester). The district champion in the other quarter of the top half is two-time state placer Antonio Lecki (Milbury Lake).
Zack Mattin (Delta) at 113 pounds and Conor Becker (Galion Northmor) at 170 are both undefeated and returning state champions. The other district champion in the half-bracket with Mattin is returning state placer Matt Ellis (Legacy Christian), while Nolan Frye (Cuyahoga Hts.) placed third at state last year and is in the opposite half-bracket.
Like Becker, Sevi Garza (Rittman) is also a two-time state placer competing at 170. He placed fourth at state last year after losing by fall in 5:59 to Becker in the state quarterfinal; Garza enters the state tournament a district champion in the opposite half-bracket.
Rounding out the returning state champions in this division are the pair of Genoa teammates, Dustin Morgillo (145) and Kevin Contos (152), who are at the same weight class they competed last season.
Other teams with a notable number of state qualifiers include Allen East with a program record six state qualifiers; while Galion Northmor and Marion Pleasant each qualified five respectively.