Blair Academy won the Walsh Ironman by 84.5 points (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio -- Heading into this 19th edition of the Walsh Jesuit Ironman, three wrestlers had the chance to join a select few to win three championships at this tournament. And come Saturday evening, all three of them got the job done. They became the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth wrestlers to do so, joining an elite group that features United States Olympian Harry Lester among others.
Nathan Tomasello was named Outstanding Wrestler (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)In fact, it was a wrestler from Lester's alma mater -- CVCA, Ohio -- who earned the Bill Barger Outstanding Award after winning his third Ironman with a fall in the final. No. 1 Nathan Tomasello scored a fall at the 3:22 mark against No. 6 Matthew Kolodzik (Blair Academy, N.J.). The battle of Fargo champions was dominated from start to finish by Tomasello, who secured a fall off a takedown in the second period.
"It's amazing, words can't describe it, and I'm really happy," said Tomasello about winning both his third Ironman title and Outstanding Wrestler Award. "Since I made my college decision (to attend Ohio State) two months ago, I've been training for this tournament. Working out down at the Ohio RTC (with the Buckeye lower weights) was a real boost."
Joining Tomasello as a three-time state champion was fellow Ohio State recruit Bo Jordan (St. Paris Graham, Ohio), who is ranked No. 1 in the country at 160 pounds. Jordan won the evening's featured bout, a 4-2 victory over No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.), on the strength of a first-period takedown and second-period reversal.
Bo Jordan won his third Walsh Ironman title on Satuday night (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)During the tournament, Jordan had two pins, a 25-10 technical fall, and a 15-5 major decision in the semifinal over nationally ranked Myles Martin (McDonogh, Md.). "I just wanted to step it up this year, to get ready for next year (in college) when every match will be a dogfight," he commented. "I trained real hard for this, and have to continue to get better and keep developing (heading towards next year)."
The third of the three-time Ironman champions was No. 2 Brooks Black (Blair Academy, N.J.), who won the 285 pound weight class with a 5-1 victory over No. 9 Michael Johnson (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) It was a very different match than last year's National Prep final which went to overtime. A takedown inside the first half-minute of the match and a third-period reversal keyed the victory.
"It feels great to be a three-time champion (at the Ironman)," said Black. "I came into the event with no nerves, just ready to go and dominate. I've been working on my takedowns and pushing the pace (from neutral), and it showed here tonight."
Black was one of three champions for the nation's No. 1 team, Blair Academy, N.J. The Buccaneers dominated the team standings with 240.5 points. No. 6 (at 160) Russ Parsons and No. 5 Frank Mattiace won the 152 and 195 pound weight classes respectively.
Parsons had to use a late match takedown from a collar tie into a hi-c shot to score a 3-2 victory over freshman sensation Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham, Ohio) who had dominated the first close to five minutes of the match. "I really wasn't able to initiate offense early on," said Parsons. "I knew I had to turn it up in that last minute-plus, leave it all out there with no regrets."
Mattiace was absolutely dominant in winning his second title at the Walsh Ironman. Saturday night's finals victory was a 10-0 major decision over Gabe Dzuro (St. Edward, Ohio) for the Penn commitment. Earlier matches in the tournament were two more major decisions and a pair of first-period pins. "I wanted to have more offense this year, and not rely so heavily on my defense," said Mattiace. "Just to step up the attack (and point scoring) in my senior year."
Blair head coach Charles Danhof was relatively pleased with the performance. "I'm proud of the performance. The kids wrestled hard this weekend. However, there are things to work on, and it's great to have the two weeks between now and the Beast of the East."
Second place in the team standings was No. 2 Wyoming Seminary, Pa. with 156 points. The Blue Knights were anchored by Eric Morris, the nation's No. 1 182 pound wrestler, who won their lone weight class championship. He earned a decisive 4-0 victory over No. 7 B.J. Toal (Troy Christian, Ohio) with a first-period takedown and second-period reversal.
"This is huge for me, it was one of my big goals for senior year," said Morris, who has won a whole litany of tournaments over the years. "I couldn't be happier, and I'm pleased with my improved offense."
A surprise third place finish in the standings was had by No. 17 St. Paris Graham, Ohio who had 143 points with four finalists. Joining Bo Jordan as a champion was No. 20 Eli Stickley, who beat No. 9 Jose Rodriguez (Massillon Perry, Ohio) 2-1 on a reversal very late in the match. Stickley had ridden out Rodriguez for the whole second but was hit for two stalling calls, and Rodriguez had ridden Stickley up to the point of the scramble and reversal.
"I believe it could happen, and it's all about the hard work I put into it," said Stickley about his championship. "It was crazy, my whole body was numb (during the match ending scramble). I just zoned in on (head coach) Jeff (Jordan), and when he was jumping crazy I knew it was mine."
Graham head coach Jeff Jordan was very pleased, but surprised by the performance. "Heading into the week, some of the parents asked what to expect: I told them top ten if things went well, it would have been crazy to predict this high a finish. The kids really stepped up."
Along with Blair Academy and St. Paris Graham, St. John Bosco, Calif. was the only other school to have multiple champions. No. 1 Zahid Valencia and No. 3 Aaron Pico won the 113 and 132 weight classes respectively. For Valencia, the nation's number one sophomore, it was a second Ironman title in as many years; and Pico won his initial Ironman, and is the nation's number two ninth grader overall.
Valencia had struggled for the first half of the match and trailed 3-1 at the halfway mark against No. 13 Ke-Shawn Hayes (Park Hill, Mo.). However, he scored a late takedown in the second period, kept Hayes down, and got the escape in the third. With no scoring through the end of the match, Valencia won 4-3. "I just had to keep the pace going, and finish my attacks through his defense" was the response in terms of his second half surge.
Pico faced No. 4 Micah Jordan (St. Paris Graham, Ohio) after Jordan had upset No. 1 Dean Heil (St. Edward, Ohio) 6-5 in the semifinal round on a takedown right at the end of the match. In this match, Pico scored a late takedown in the second period to take a 2-1 lead after two full periods. He added an escape to make it 3-1. Then, Jordan scored a takedown with just over 30 seconds to go; however, Jordan let Pico up immediately and couldn't score thereafter. It was a 4-3 Pico victory.
"Watching Zahid (and Anthony) compete and thrive here last year, I was really excited," said Pico about his first Ironman. "I was anxious to start the season, and am glad to be here. One down, and three to go."
Valencia, Tomasello, and Bo Jordan were joined by another trio of national No. 1 ranked wrestlers to win weight class titles, making it a total of six of the weight classes at the Ironman to be won by the nation's top-ranked wrestler.
Joey Dance (Christiansburg, Va.) scored a 13-7 victory over unranked Judson Preskitt (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) to win his first Ironman title in the 126 pound weight class. Two first-period takedowns and four third-period takedowns propelled the two-time Super 32 champion and 2011 Junior Naitonal freestyle champion.
"I've been here every year, it's always been a stacked bracket with me falling short," said Dance. "It feels great to finally get one, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) continued his winning ways with a title in the 138 pound weight class. After three pins and two major decisions, the championship final was extremely close, a 4-2 victory over No. 16 (at 145) Mason Manville (Blair Academy, N.J.). In fact, Manville got the match's first takedown, but Retherford escaped before the end of the first period. A second-period escape and takedown provided the points needed for victory, as Manville went neutral in the third period.
"We each had a game plan," said Retherford about battling back from behind. "I just never stopped working. He was up after two (minutes), but I figure I got four more (minutes) to get points. It's all about the training -- every practice, every lift, every sprint. Do it at one thousand percent."
Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel, Md.) cut through his four matches like a knife through butter. This included a 26-11 technical fall in the finals over Alex Campbell (Canon-McMillan, Pa.) at the 4:54 mark. He had five first-period takedowns, five second-period takedowns and a near fall, and one third-period takedown to the solo takedown from Campbell in the third period.
"I love winning, winning is great, it never gets old," said Snyder. "I've got really high goals. Every practice and match, I have to do something to get better."
Second-ranked Cody Wiercioch (Canon McMillan, Pa.) added to two state titles and two Super 32 titles with a championship here in the 170 pound weight class. His championship match victory was a 3-2 decision over No. 3 Zach Epperly (Christiansburg, Va.). The match-winning takedown came in the third period off a single, and finished at the edge of the mat.
"It feels good, last one on the list, and glad to be able to compete here," said Wiercioch about the Ironman title. "I just had to find something, as Epperly was extremely strong and tight."
Finally among the champions was Edgar Bright (St. Edward, Ohio), who is ranked No. 4 at 145 pounds, and scored a 3-2 victory over the unranked junior Jacob Danishek (Dayton Christian) -- who is a two-time small-school state champion. A second-period takedown by Bright was the key score within the match.
"(The state finals loss) fueled me a lot all summer," said Bright, who is a two-time state runner-up. "I'm a senior this year. There is no way I should be second fiddle to anyone, and I'm putting the time in to assure that."
Team Standings (Top Ten):
1. No. 1 Blair Academy, N.J. 240.5
2. No. 2 Wyoming Seminary, Pa. 156
3. No. 17 St. Paris Graham, Ohio 143
4. No. 3 St. Edward, Ohio 132
5. No. 6 Canon McMillan, Pa. 96
6. No. 30 Massillon Perry, Ohio 90.5
7. St. John Bosco, Calif. 87
8. Marmion Academy, Ill. 86.5
9. Brecksville, Ohio 81
10. No. 34 Christiansburg, Va. 80.5
170: No. 1 Cody Wiercioch (Canon-McMillan, Pa.) dec. No. 3 Zach Epperly (Christiansburg, Va.), 3-2
182: No. 1 Eric Morris (Wyoming Sem., Pa.) dec. No. 7 B.J. Toal (Troy Christian, Ohio), 4-0
195: No. 5 Frank Mattiace (Blair Academy, N.J.) maj. dec. Gabe Dzuro (St. Edward, Ohio), 10-0
220: No. 1 Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel, Md.) tech. fall Alex Campbell (Canon-McMillan, Pa.), 26-11 (4:54)
285: No. 2 Brooks Black (Blair Academy, N.J.) dec. No. 9 Michael Johnson Jr. (Wyoming Sem., Pa.), 5-1
106: No. 20 Eli Stickley (St. Paris Graham, Ohio) dec. No. 9 Jose Rodriguez (Massillon Perry, Ohio), 2-1
113: No. 1 Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) dec. No. 13 Ke-Shawn Hayes (Park Hill, Mo.), 4-3
120: No. 1 Nathan Tomasello (CVCA, Ohio) pinned No. 6 Matthew Kolodzik (Blair Academy, N.J.), 3:22
126: No. 1 Joey Dance (Christiansburg, Va.) dec. Judson Preskitt (Wyoming Sem., Pa.), 13-7
132: No. 3 Aaron Pico (St. John Bosco, Calif.) dec. No. 4 Micah Jordan (St. Paris Graham, Ohio), 4-3
138: No. 1 Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) dec. No. 16 (at 145) Mason Manville (Blair Academy, N.J.), 4-2
145: No. 4 Edgar Bright (St. Edward, Ohio) dec. Jacob Danishek (Dayton Christian, Ohio), 3-2
152: No. 6 (at 160) Russ Parsons (Blair Academy, N.J.) dec. Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham, Ohio), 3-2
160: No. 1 Bo Jordan (St. Paris Graham, Ohio) dec. No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.), 4-2