Anthony Collica (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)It will be the culminating event for a group of excellent Class of 2013 wrestlers in the Buckeye State, which includes three wrestlers seeking their fourth state title, and three others after a third state championship. Assuming Nathan Tomasello (CVCA), Dean Heil (St. Edward), and Bo Jordan (St. Paris Graham) all win the titles they are prohibitively favored to win, it would mark 25 wrestlers to win four state titles -- all coming during the three class/division era that started in 1976. Seeking third state titles this year -- all in Division I (big-school) -- are Brandon Thompson (Solon), Anthony Collica (Solon), and Domenic Abounader (St. Edward)
The big-school tournament features four of the nation's top 30 squads -- No. 2 St. Edward, No. 16 Massillon Perry, No. 21 Cincinnati Moeller, and No. 26 Brecksville. After winning the dual meet championship earlier this month, and having won 15 of the last 16 individual state tournament crowns, the Eagles are favored to win their third consecutive title this weekend. Though they qualified eleven to state, which is a high across the three divisions, their path to a title is not one hundred percent clear.
St. Edward suffered a potentially key setback when potential state finalist L.J. Bentley failed to qualify for the state tournament at 106 pounds, after losing a semifinal match against No. 3 Austin Assad (Brecksville) in the tiebreaker and then suffered a 7-5 defeat on a big five-point move by Mario Guillen (Perrysburg) late in the match. However, they still have five potential finalists -- and at worst top three finishers -- in No. 3 Dean Heil (132), No. 17 Colin Heffernan (138), No. 4 Edgar Bright (145), No. 9 Markus Scheidel (152), and No. 2 Domenic Abounader (St. Edward). Chance Driscoll (126) joins those five as a district champion heading into state this week.
The other three nationally ranked teams each qualified nine wrestlers to the state tournament, though it is only Massillon Perry that can realistically match the firepower of the second-ranked in the nation Eagles. Leading the way for the Panthers are defending state champions David Bavery (120) and Joe Tayse (195) and New York state runner-up Jose Rodriguez (106), who is ranked No. 5 nationally. The Panthers also have high placement possibilities coming from district finalists Casey Sparkman (138), who beat Heffernan in the state dual meet final; Tony Dailey (152), who lost 2-1 to Collica in the district final this past weekend; as well as district champions Isaac Bast (145) and Bruno Millin (160).
Brecksville does have three potential state champions in No. 3 Austin Assad (106), No. 11 Aaron Assad (113), and Quentin Hiles (160) -- all of whom were district champions -- but the other six qualifiers have ceilings of mid-to-low placement. Moeller is led by projected state champion Chalmer Frueauf (220), who is ranked No. 10 nationally; district champions Conner Zeigler (113), Andrew Mendel (132), and Jerry Thornberry (195); as well as returning state placer Dakota Sizemore (160), a district runner-up that could none the less be a state finalist.
Some brief thoughts on every weight class:
106: This boils down to a two-person race between Assad and Rodriguez, who are bracketed to meet in the final. Assad won an earlier season meeting in the Beast of the East semifinals 5-4 with a third period three-point near fall and ride-out, though Rodriguez scored takedowns in each of the first two periods.
113: Assad and Armando Torres (Elyria) are the two favorites in this weight class. The pair of wrestlers have met four times already this season, including in the district final this past weekend, with Assad winning all the meetings by either one or two points. Torres does have the tougher path having to potentially beat returning state placer Jimmy Ferrito (St. Ignatius) first round, returning third at state Dakota Riley (Mt. Vernon) in the quarterfinal, and district champion Zeigler from Moeller in the semis.
120: This is the lone weight of the 42 this weekend to have two defending state champions present, as both Thompson (ranked No. 18 nationally) and Bavery reside here. The two wrestlers met in the district semifinal round this past weekend with two-time state champion Thompson winning 3-1. If they meet again, it would be in the state final, which would be a rematch from 2011 when Thompson won 2-0 in the final at 103 pounds. In order for Bavery to reach the final, he'll have to beat undefeated Artem Timchenko (Olentangy Orange) in the semifinal round.
126: Two-time state placer Ivan McClay (Massillon), who is ranked No. 17 nationally, is a strong favorite to win this weight class, which is the weakest in the big-school division.
132: Heil should have absolutely no problem getting his fourth state title. So far in seven state series matches, he has been on the mat for 5 minutes and 15 seconds, all pins with the longest being at the 1:11 mark. Expect four non-competitive matches at the state tournament, though probably not to this extreme.
138: The top two wrestlers in this weight class, No. 15 Noah Forrider (Marysville) and No. 17 Colin Heffernan (St. Edward), both took fourth at state last year, which did not afford them bracket protection after winning district titles. Unfortunately, they are slated to meet in the state semifinals. When the two squads competed in early February dual meet, Forrider weighed in at 145, where he scored a 3-2 win over Edgar Bright. The explosive Casey Sparkman (Massillon Perry) is in Forrider's quarter of the draw, and Forrider did score an 11-5 victory over his teammate Bast in the Top Gun final, when Sparkman was up at 145. The top half of the draw is wide open, and could potentially give Nick Montgomery (Madison) a chance to reach the final, which would give the Blue Streaks a chance for their first-ever state champion; they've had a joint state meet high seven runners-up without a champ over the years.
145: Yet again, the top two wrestlers will meet in the semifinals, as No. 4 Edgar Bright (St. Edward) -- a two-time state runner-up -- and Jake Ryan (Olentangy Liberty) are in the same half-bracket. This season, Ryan lost in the tiebreakers against Forrider in this weight class, lost in the tiebreakers to Collica up at 152, and lost 6-4 to Danishek in the Brecksville final. He is obviously the son of Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan. Bright is hoping not to join Brian Murphy in Illinois as a bona fide Class of 2013 star to never win state.
152: All signs point to a rematch of last year's state final between No. 6 Collica and No. 9 Scheidel, a match that Collica won 3-1. The wrestlers also met during the dual meet state series earlier this month, a match won by Collica 5-2. However, Tony Dailey (Massillon Perry) will try to spoil the party, drawing Scheidel in the quarterfinal round. The two wrestlers, both placers at the Walsh Ironman in December, met in the semis at the Medina Invitational -- a match won by Scheidel 5-4.
160: It's wide open, and that's the simplest way to say it. The early favorite might be returning state placer Quinton Hiles (Brecksville), who was a Beast of the East runner-up at 160 pounds. However, his challenges start in the opening round against returning state placer Jacob Globke (Middletown); Globke had to beat fellow 2012 state placer Joe Heyob (St. Xavier) in a go-to-state elimination bout this past weekend at a stacked district weight class. The winner of this match is likely to face that district's champion Detuan Smith (Colerain), the hottest wrestler in this weight class. The other half of the draw boils down to a probable quarterfinal between district champion Bruno Millin (Massillon Perry) and Dakota Sizemore (Moeller), who placed third at state last year, highest of anyone in this weight.
170: Yet another open preceeding, though the joint favorites -- Richard Robertson (Maple Hts) and Nick Corba (Beavercreek), who both won their district tournaments -- are in the same half of the draw. Things are so muddled here that my projected state champion as of late January, Rocco Caywood (Perrysburg), exited fourth from his district tournament yet could still take gold come Saturday.
182: If not for teammate Dean Heil, Domenic Abounader (St. Edward) -- going after his third state title, and ranked No. 2 nationally -- would be the most prohibitive favorite in this division. In seven state series matches, he's had six wins by fall and one that was a no contest.
195: Defending state champion Joe Tayse (Massillon Perry) lost by injury default in the district final against the previously undefeated Kyle Conel (Ashtabula Lakeside). It was precautionary in nature, as his knee buckled early in the match after giving up the first takedown against Conel. Tayse might have benefitted somewhat in terms of bracket position, as Conel is looking at a semifinal match against two-time state placer Adam Kluk (Medina Highland), while Tayse is likely to see returning state placer Aaron Tschantz (Barberton) in the semifinal round.
220: After missing the Ironman due to playing defensive line for a state title winning football team the weekend before, No. 10 Chalmer Frueauf (Moeller) has not lost a match, and hasn't really been tested, other than the loss to Kyle Snyder -- who is ranked No. 1 nationally -- during the semifinals of the Powerade. However, Frueauf should expect a stern test from returning state placer Evan Rosborogh (Painesville Riverside), who placed fourth at the Ironman, during the state semifinals -- which will be the de facto final in this weight class.
285: Three of the seven wrestlers in the big-school division who enter state undefeated do so in this weight class, a group that is led by returning state finalist Travis Gusan (Hilliard Davidson), who is ranked No. 18 nationally. That finals loss is the only one Gusan has taken in the last two seasons. He should face his sternest test of the season in the Friday night semifinal against fellow undefeated senior Truman Gutapfel (Harrison).
St. Paris Graham, winner of the last twelve individual state tournament titles in this division, also won the dual meet title earlier this month and enters the week ranked No. 5 nationally. The Falcons qualified a joint-most for the medium-school division eight wrestlers to the state tournament. However, among those eight are four nationally ranked wrestlers in No. 8 Eli Stickley (106), No. 2 Micah Jordan (132), No. 10 Alex Marinelli (152), and Bo Jordan (160). Those four, all who won district titles, along with fellow district champions in Eli Seipel (113) and Brent Moore (120) are projected to be state finalists. It is not a question of if the Falcons will make it thirteen in a row, it's a question of when it will be clinched.
In assessing the battle for second place, one should look at CVCA as the favorites, as the Royals were the other team to advance eight to the state tournament. That group includes No. 1 in the nation Nathan Tomasello (120), along with four other wrestlers whom have previously placed in the state tournament -- district champion Ryan Bennett (113) along with district runners-up Josh Decatur (126), Jeff Hojnacki (145), and Matt Dobben (152). Other teams in the hunt for second include dual meet runners-up Claymont, Akron SVSM, and Clyde who all advanced six to the state tournament; though for Claymont that six is a marked disappointment, as the Mustangs were hoping to capitalize on a soft district tournament and advance eight or even nine to Columbus.
Some brief thoughts on every weight class:
106: Though Eli Stickley (St. Paris Graham) is the lone nationally ranked wrestler present, it is really a weight class open to any of about six wrestlers – the other being senior John Martin (Wapakoneta), champion at the Top Gun; sophomore Evan Cheek (Milan Edison), a Cadet freestyle All-American; as well as freshman Alex Mackall (Walsh Jesuit), Seth Beard (Napoleon), and Tyler Warner (Claymont), who all were district champions this past weekend along with Stickley. Martin and Warner both have wins over Stickley in the last four weeks.
113: All signs point to a rematch between defending state champion Cameron Kelly (Bellbrook) and Eli Seipel (St. Paris Graham) in the state final. After Seipel placed at the Ironman, while Kelly did not, Kelly earned a 5-0 victory in the GMVWA in late December. However, the past two weekends, it has been Seipel coming away with 7-2 and 4-2 victories respectively.
120: Nathan Tomasello is the nation's No. 1 wrestler, and quite frankly is should be a coronation for his fourth state title; while the freshman Brent Moore (St. Paris Graham) is well positioned to be in the other finalist spot.
126: With Tomasello at the weight below, and Micah Jordan up above, this is a "collection pit." However, in its midst returning state runners-up Cody Burcher (Claymont) and Anthony Tutolo (Lake Catholic) are the joint favorites. This weight class did take a slight hit when returning state placer Mike Kostandaras (Walsh Jesuit) failed to qualify for state, losing 3-1 in the district quarter against Tutolo and then having to injury default in his go-to-state match against two-time state placer D.J. Schoeppner (Canton South). Seven wrestlers other than Burcher and Tutolo have placed at state before, including 2011 state champion Michael Rix (Akron SVSM), who is in the same half-bracket as Burcher -- the wrestler he beat for that 2011 state title.
132: Like Tomasello at 120, this weight is a similar coronation for junior Micah Jordan, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation and after a third state title in as many years. Two-time state placer Preston Bowshier (Kenton Ridge), also a junior, is the likely opponent for Jordan in the final; Jordan has scored a 10-4 decision and 16-4 major decision in finals against Bowshier the previous two weekends.
138: Signs point this to being a four-person battle between sophomore Kyle Kaminski (Padua), junior two-time state placers Ryan Skonieczny (Akron SVSM) and Alex Mossing (Toledo Central Catholic) along with senior returning state placer Dylan Kager (Crestwood). Mossing enters the favorite, as he out-placed Kager at state last year, beat Kaminski in the district final this past weekend, and has multiple victories by narrow margins over Skonieczny in the last two seasons.
145: Two-time state placer Max Rohskopf (West Holmes) enters as the clear favorite to win his first state title. He has just one loss on the season, 8-3 to Bright in the Medina final, and has dominated all other opposition this season.
152: Freshman sensation Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham), ranked No. 10 nationally, burst onto the scene with his runner-up finish at the Walsh Ironman. He has only one loss since then, that coming 9-7 to Scheidel in their mid-January dual meet against St. Edward, and enters this weekend as the favorite to be the next Falcon on the track for four state titles. He's likely going to have to beat two-time state placer, and only a junior, Seth Williams (Tiffin Columbian) in the final.
160: What more can be said about the incomparable Bo Jordan (St. Paris Graham), the nation's No. 1 Class of 2013 prospect, and future college star at Ohio State. In the last two state tournaments, he has pins in seven of eight matches, the only match not being a pin was a technical fall victory in last year's state semifinal round. Expect similar dominance this weekend, and a big standing ovation after the final on Saturday night.
170: Defending state champion Chris Moore (Clyde) comes in as a district four after losing 6-0 in the semifinal round to weight class favorite Luke Cramer (Oak Harbor), and then being disqualified due to stalling penalties in his consolation final. Moore will have to face district champion Lane Thomas (St. Paris Graham) in the opening round, and then battle Cramer in the semis -- Cramer has wins in both matches against Moore this year, and expect him to make it three-for-three on Friday night.
182: Yet again the top two wrestlers in this weight class met in last weekend's district semifinal round, where Josh Kasper (Lexington) earned a 6-0 victory over Brad Smith (Clyde) in a battle of state placers from last year. That was a second victory for Kasper over Smith this season, and it's likely those two will meet for a third time come Saturday night. One to watch in this weight though is freshman Jack Harris (Urbana), who enters the tournament as a district champion with a 48-1 record.
195: Defending state champion Josh Lehner (Lexington) is ranked No. 16 nationally and undefeated with a 48-0 record. In last year's state tournament, he earned all four victories by technical fall; and in eighteen state series matches the last two years, it's 14 out of 18 victories by pin or tech fall without giving up an offensive point. Expect similar dominance this weekend in a weight class that features many of the same key players as last year.
220: The two favorites, state runner-up Zane Krall (Wauseon) and state fourth placer Greg Moray (Steubenville) are paired in opposite halves of the draw, so they're well positioned to reach the final.
285: The joint favorites in this weight class have wrestled four times over the past two seasons, twice in each season, and have split those matches. Billy Miller (Perry) has won their district finals meeting in each of the last two years, while Connor Sharp (West Branch) won their match for third at state last year and a state dual meet series match this year. Miller should make the final, which would make it an eighth Perry Pirate to reach the finals over the years, and he seeks to become their first-ever champion. On the other hand, Sharp has a slightly tougher path.
Out of the three divisions, this is the one with the most realistic team race. This small-school division is also the only one in which the champion is likely to end up with under 100 points. The three key players here are dual meet state champions Delta, who qualified five for state; defending individual state champions Waynedale, which also qualified five; and returning runners-up Troy Christian, which qualified a surprising six to state.
The district tournament could have offered Waynedale an opportunity to come in the clear favorite if they had gotten all seven of their projected key players to the state tournament. The more notable loss was returning state placer Brad Wardell failing to get out at 132 pounds. The Bears bring to state prohibitive favorite Zack Nelson (126), returning state runners-up Zane Nelson (138) and Brendan Stanley (170), state placer Dakota Stanley (160), and freshman Reid Stanley (145). In addition, they got bad news at the district tournament as Brendan Stanley sustained an injury during his semifinal win by disqualification and was unable to compete in the district final that evening; it is hoped he'll be able to compete at relative health this week.
On the other hand, Troy Christian augmented their four wrestlers who combined for 81.5 points last year with two more state qualifiers in sophomore Zach Davie (106) and Chase Mayabb (132), though each would be at best projected to get one win. In an every match counts event, those outcomes could be the difference. Exiting as district champs for the Eagles were Garrett Hancock (120), as well as defending state champions Jordan Marshall (152) and B.J. Toal (182), while returning state finalist Jared Ganger (113) finished third at district. Those four could all be in the finals this weekend.
The dual meet state champion Panthers, who finished third in last year's individual tournament, qualified five for the state tournament. That includes a quartet of district champions in freshman sensation Jake Spiess (106), returning state placers Kyle Keller (120) and Jared Mattin (160), along with state runner-up Tyler Fahrer (145). Freshman Dustin Marteney (126), their other qualifier, was second at district.
Amanda-Clearcreek qualified the most of any team in the small-school division with eight to state; however, they don't realistically figure in this conversation, as they have no projected high state placers.
The following are brief thoughts on each weight class:
106: Projected state champion Spiess (Delta) pinned primary challengers Alex Smith (Sandusky SMCC) and Evan Ullinski (Woodmore) in the district tournament this past weekend; those two wrestlers are both in the opposite half from Spiess, along with district champions in returning state qualifier Jake Adkins (Johnstown Northridge) and freshman Hunter Bray (Dayton Chrsitain).
113: Christian Clary (Dayton Christian), fourth and third at state the last two years, is the wrestler who upset Ganger with a pin in the district semifinals; he went onto win the district tournament, and is in the opposite half of a pair of returning state runners-up. Those wrestlers, Zack Durbin (Mapleton) and Jared Ganger (Troy Christian) will have to wrestle in the semifinal round.
120: Defending state champion Sammy Gross (Beachwood) enters the week as the slight favorite over Garrett Hancock (Troy Christian), whom he beat 4-2 in last year's state semifinal round at 113 pounds. Gross has state placer Chandler Minnard (Bloom-Carroll) in his half-bracket; while Hancock is joined by state placers in Francisco Alvarado (Defiance Ayersville), Mike Hozan (Black River), and Kyle Keller (Delta).
126: As previously mentioned Zack Nelson (Waynedale), undefeated on the season, is the prohibitive favorite in this weight class. His likely finals opponent is Andrew Hoskins (Greeneview), one he handled 6-2 in last year's consolation semifinal round.
132: The two best wrestlers in this weight draw each other in the semifinal round, two-time state placer Jared Van Vleet (Edgerton) and returning state third placer Jason Sandlin (Carlisle). In their match this season, Van Vleet did win 5-2 in late January. From the other half of the draw, returning state placer Gennar Feucht (West Jefferson) brings a 46-0 record to the table.
138: A pair of returning state finalists are present in this weight class, Austin Reese (Mechanicsburg) and Zane Nelson (Waynedale); Reese won a mid-December match between the two 5-0. However, despite failing to win a district title, Nelson got the more manageable (though not easy) draw. Reese is looking at a quarterfinal against two-time state placer Zach Niner (Liberty Center) and a semifinal against returning state placer J.J. Diven (Waterloo), who is undefeated and beat Nelson in the district semifinal.
145: Two-time state champion, and just a junior, Jacob Danishek (Dayton Christian) is one only two nationally ranked wrestlers in the small-school division. Ranked No. 9 nationally, he was runner-up at the Ironman to Bright and champion at Brecksville over Ryan. He should be unchallenged on the weekend outside of a competitive state finals bout against fellow Ironman placer Tyler Fahrer (Delta), who was also a state runner-up last year.
152: This has the feel of a four person weight class, with all four in differing quarter brackets: two-time state fourth placer Zach Wilson (Bluffton) and returning state third Alex Quinn (Shadyside) in the top half, with defending state champion Jordan Marshall (Troy Christian) and undefeated sophomore Kollin Moore (Norwayne) in the bottom half.
160: Already twice a state placer, and only a junior, Ryan Harris (Beachwood) is undefeated on the season and has only really been tested in his two matches against returning state placer Kurt Moore (Norwayne). Those two wrestlers could meet in the final; however, Harris will have to get past former state placers Max Erwin (Mechanicsburg) and Chase Kinemond (Shadyside), while Moore is looking at a quarterfinal against Jimmy Sandlin (Carlisle) and semifinal with returning state placer Jared Mattin (Delta).
170: Travis Linton (Rootstown) placed third at state last year in this weight class, and has this season placed seventh at Ironman and was runner-up at Medina up at 182 pounds before making the drop down here. He enters as the slightest of favorites, and a clear path to the final. The bottom half of the draw features defending state champion Zach Mays (Nelsonville-York) in one quarter and returning state runner-up Brendan Stanley (Waynedale) in the other. Stanley, already facing health issues, has a quarter-bracket featuring two matches against returning state placers.
182: The other nationally ranked wrestler in this division is B.J. Toal (Troy Christian), the defending state champion as well as Super 32 and Ironman runner-up enters the week ranked No. 11 nationally. His three lead challengers all are in the opposite half -- returning state runner-up Armani Robinson (Greeneview), who lost 3-2 to Toal in the district final, and returning state runner-up Kevin Stock (Garrettsville Garfield), who lost 3-2 to Toal in last year's state final, are projected to meet in the quarterfinal round. While the winner of that match is likely to face undefeated Sam Groff (Sandy Valley), who was third at state last year losing 3-2 to Toal in the state semis.
195: Dalton Ishmael (North Baltimore) has over 175 career wins and holds the state record for career pins with approximately 150. He is the biggest prohibitive title favorite in the small-school division.
220: Returning state placers Jake Moore (Rootstown) and Travis Boyd (Blanchester) are the clear favorites in this weight class; however, they are slated to meet in the semifinal round. In last year's state consolation semifinal, it was Moore who won a 3-2 decision on the way to placing fourth, while Boyd placed fifth.
285: Austin Cary (Loudonville) has been impressive in an undefeated season, one that he entered as a relative unknown. Last year he went 1-2 at the district tournament competing at 220. This weekend, he is a strong favorite to make the state final. Down in the other half of the draw, projected champion Patrick Garren (Bishop Ready), third at state and a Super 32 placer, will have to deal with Zach Srock (Chippewa), a returning state placer, in the semifinal round.