Driving into what seemed like a blizzard on I-71 last Saturday was not what I had planned for, but my visit to the Ironman tournament in Stow is always worth the trip.
The question is always asked: Is the Ironman really that tough? Well, consider this ... returning state champ Ty Mitch of Aurora did not even place in the top eight, threetime state champ Collin Palmer (140) of St. Edward lost in the finals and state champ Hunter Stieber (112) of Monroeville lost the first match of his high school career in the finals.
Even an Ohio wrestler that seemed to have a great chance to be the first in state history to go undefeated in his high school career, state champ Chris Philips (171) of Monroeville, lost the first match of his career in the quarterfinals.
Graham placed nine wrestlers in the top eight and had six finalists, but only two won. David Taylor (135) made history as the first four-time Ironman champion with a tech fall in the finals and Nick Brascetta (103) also won his weight class.
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My favorite match of the night was the 160-pound final between two-time state champ Zach Toal of Troy Christian and Kyle Lang of Brecksville. I’m a fan of Lang and Toal is vastly underrated in Ohio and in the nation. There were plenty of great scrambles and Toal held on for a 5-3 win.
The wrestler who beat Phillips was Ed Ruth of Blair Academy, N.J. Obviously, he is good if he beat Phillips, but Ruth gave a dominant performance in the finals as well, winning 10-5.
Also turning in impressive efforts were the Alton twins, Andrew and Dylan, from Central Mountain, Pa. Both won their respective weight classes.
Blair won the team title with 283 points, Graham was second with 234, Central Mountain, Pa. took third (145) and St. Edward was fourth (143).
County meet thoughts
The youths of Logan County wrestling certainly showcased themselves last night at the area tri-meet. Both the Raiders and Lakers have rosters full of underclassmen.
Indian Lake head coach Scott Tressler has a roster of 18 kids and 13 are either freshmen or sophomores. I know he and a lot of others were hoping for a better start to the season, but you wrestle with what you have and it’s hard to expect a lot with a team dominated by youth.
With 30 pins on the night, it was apparent that either experienced wrestlers were able to handle the younger ones or underclassmen faced off against each other and some made mistakes.
“The pins had a lot to do with the experience level of everyone,” said Tressler. “Some of our younger guys were matched up with the other team’s experienced guys.”
“Obviously the ultimate thing is to pin in wrestling,” said Grant. “When we go out there we want to pin if we can.”
I saw a lot of potential from young wrestlers from all three schools. Bellefontaine freshman Johnny Maurice (103) has a lot of promise and sophomore Wayce Varian (125) looked much improved.
Indian Lake freshman Shylar McIntire (145) may struggle wrestling in an upper weight class at times, but I think he is going to be a good one.
Ben Logan has a lot to build on with sophomore Derek Hatmaker (145) and the Newland brothers (Bryan and Trevor), who are freshmen.
Buckeyes struggle in Las Vegas
I won’t sugar coat it. Ohio State simply stunk last weekend at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas with its 11th-place finish. The Buckeyes finished behind four unranked teams and dropped from third to sixth in the national rankings.
For a team with such high credentials coming into the season and hopes of a national title, this was simply unacceptable. Returning national champ Mike Pucillo (185) defaulted out because of his lingering ankle injury and national qualifier Reece Humphrey didn’t pass skin check.
However, the Bucks’ other returning national champion J. Jaggers (141) was eliminated and only four wrestlers placed.
Lance Palmer (149) and Colt Sponseller (165) each took second, losing to the topranked wrestlers in the country.
Everyone has a bad day and I hope this is one of the few for Ohio State. The Buckeyes travel to 17th-ranked Edinboro on Sunday.