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1999

HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING

FORECAST

(28th Annual Edition)

Written By:
Brian Brakeman

Copyright 1999, Reproduction of this material for profit without written consent is prohibited.

DIVISION I

The biggest issue in Division I was the creation of five districts instead of the usual four, and the consequent problems with regard to state bracketing. Inserting five district champs into the bracket sheet automatically creates some imbalances which must be (and has been) spread over all the districts. Still, it is an awkward situation which will hopefully be rectified next year.

Division I Teams

1. St. Edward -- With four returning high placers (two state champs and two state 3rds), St. Edward was early on an overwhelming favorite to capture its' 3rd consecutive team title. However, they may now need scoring from more than this top quartet -- although Lenhard, Jayne, Bertin and Tolar should score about 90 points. That added punch should come from the brilliant freshman Moos and Mazzola, while Mann could also be a big help. If Schweda can qualify out of that difficult 160# Mentor District he, too, can score at the state level. The margin for error is now much smaller than it was six months ago. With the double elimination format, depth should play a bigger role than in the past.

2. Wayne -- The addition of two-time champion Morgan gives this team three favorites for individual state titles -- Ott, Lammers and Morgan. Bond can score at the state level, but people like Padilla, Williams, Dill and McDaniel are going to have to step up if they want to be the first public school team to win since 1977.

3. Wadsworth -- Watters is the favorite at 152# and all three of the Kallai boys can score at the state level. Add in a healthy Lance and maybe one of the other big boys and they have a long shot chance for 2nd place. The big problem is that they qualify out of the toughest district.

4. Akron Springfield -- They return two state finalists and a two-time state place winner in Dies, Bolyard and Saley. Unfortunately each is at a difficult weight class and they have struggled a bit this year. However, they were a whirlwind last year at state tournament time and there's no reason to believe it won't happen again. If Whitacre, Barron, Lowell, Demastus, or Hawk can qualify that would be an added bonus.

5. Maple Hts. -- A team that will peak next year, but that still has good scoring potential in 1999. Magistrelli, Phillips, Pflug and Cundall are all returning state qualifiers. Factor in Hasenohrl and the younger Pflug and there could be a lot of points on the board. However, the tough Perry District may well beat them down.

6. Nordonia -- Basically a two-man team but both should be finalists -- and that's close to 50 points. Tack on help from someone like Varga and Baraga and they could easily make the top five.

7. Marion Harding -- Two-time state champion Jeff Ratliff always loves the big bout, the big challenge and so he'll score a lot of points. Smith and Townsend have placement potential, while McCreary, Potts, Owens and Rieman have to help.

8. Eastlake North -- Sabin and Osolin should be high placers at their respective weight classes while Miocic, Delguyd and Dominick have state scoring potential.

9. Solon -- Penn could be a finalist and, if so, Lenhard won't have it easy. If Mahone can score at the tough 160# class and Krajnak has a hot weekend, this team could be a top five candidate. The freshman DiGiovanni could be a crucial element while Cost, Ilodi, Smith and Camino are possible helpers. Smith is improving rapidly and might be able to score at the state level.

10. Sandusky -- It would be helpful if McKinney drew away from Jayne and Prophet got comfortable at 112#. Let Walls, Carr, Aaron and Cherry qualify and you have the recipe for a top ten finish. Also qualifying out of the weakest district doesn't hurt either.

11. Fairfield -- Always a tough team, this year is no exception. Wahoff, Ramsey and Padgett are the big guns, but as per usual there is also good depth. Quimby, Leugers and Burd could qualify and have scoring potential at the state level.

12. Olentangy -- They have a dynamite stretch of wrestlers from 112# to 135# in Evans, Worley, Maehl and Robbins. The big question is the jump from Division II to Division I and how it will impact this squad.

103#

Projected Champion: Kyle Ott (Wayne) 

Top Contenders
2. Sabin (Eastlake North)     15. Ondecko (Upper Arlington)
3. Moos (St. Edward)          16. Nadeau (Defiance)
4. Pflug(Maple Hts.)          17. Bradley(SylvaniaSouthview)
5. Purcell(Coffman)           18. Walters(Pickerington)
6. Januszewski(Strongsville)  19. Pollock(Mentor)
7. Leugers(Fairfield)         20. Demastus(AkronSpringfield)
8. Hewitt(Medina)             21. Luther(Glen Este)
9. Langdon(Harrison)          22. Baumann(Bowsher)
10. Vickers(MassillonPerry)   23. O'Bryant(Anderson)
11. Thompson(Kenmore)         24. Gease(Darby)
12. Herrera(Mayfield)         25. Puckett(Beavercreek)
13. Rose(Perrysburg)          26. Howe(Hudson)
14. Simmons(WestervilleNorth) 27. Andaverde(Toledo CC)

This should be one of the most interesting and actionfilled weight classes in Division I. The top four are all excellent and, in addition, they are all "goers" who like to score. I believe there is some drop off after the top quartet, but Purcell and Januszewski have upset potential. My choice is the rugged sophomore Kyle Ott who was a strong 3rd last year. A quarterfinal upset by the excellent Penn cost him a possible state final spot, but he finished strong with four straight wins the last reversing the tables on Penn. He has been essentially unchallenged this year winning big at Reno and dominating smaller tourneys and the state duals.

Sabin, also a state qualifier last year, won a bout at Columbus after a district 3rd which coincidentally included a loss to Penn. He split two bouts with Moos at the Ironman getting pinned when ahead the first time and finished behind Ott at Reno. A savvy senior, he may feel most at home in a close bout.

The two freshman, Moos and Pflug, are both sensational. Moos was a double cadet national champ and has been excellent this year splitting two matches with Sabin, losing to Ott and winning everything else. He looks to have a brilliant career ahead of him. I rate Pflug just a hair behind Moos, but there are no common yardsticks, so that's purely a guess. Pflug is undefeated with nothing resembling a close bout, but has not wrestled any of my top ten. Generally, one thinks of this weight class as a great chance for freshmen to win a state title, but it's only happened once in the past 20 years.

State qualifier Purcell falls just outside my big four, but he is very strong and could well overpower one of the freshmen. He's someone to watch out for in the bracketing. Last year he lost a narrow 6-5 decision to Sabin and was immediately eliminated. With the new double elimination format, that cannot happen again. The rest of this district is relatively average although Simmons could be a factor.

Clearly, Ott will dominate at Fairfield where there is good depth, but not much real placement material. Langdon or, perhaps, Leugers could get a very low place, but the trio behind Ott will not be worrisome to the top five. Stumpf (Piqua) and DePoy (Greenville) are other good wrestlers who did not make the ratings grid.

The Rogers District gets three qualifiers and in many cases, it will be the group you'll want to draw into. Rose lost by 6 to Herrera at Hudson, but gave Purcell a struggle at Perrysburg before losing 9-7. Nadeau has been at 103# for two years now with some success, while Andaverde was the CIT runner up. There could be some surprise qualifiers here.

Pflug should win at Perry, but it's a solid district. Hewitt, Vickers and Thompson are all tough, with the last mentioned a fast improving freshman. Hewitt won the Dies and North Canton and was 3rd at Medina where he defeated Vickers (who was 5th) 12-5.

I've also rated Howe and Demastus, but Van Winkle (New Philadelphia), Mihalia (Hoover) and Pniewski (Cloverleaf) are close behind. This is deepest of the five districts as noted by the fact that Demastus upset Langdon in the state duals. Sabin and Moos are well above the rest of the field at Mentor and you can hope that they'll be finalists at Mentor. Sometimes semifinal losers have problems coming back and winning those two extra bouts to qualify. Januszewski has been outstanding as well, and certainly has placement potential. He has made giant strides from a freshman year where he was a district qualifier and won over 20 times. Bivins (Cleveland Hts.) and Camerato (Brush) could also be factors here.

112

Projected Champion: Mason Lenhard (St. Edward) 

Top Contenders
2.  Penn (Solon)               14. Theodore (Boardman)
3.  Brooks(North Royalton)     15.  Josefowicz (Holland Springfield)
4.  DiSalvo (Carroll)          16.  Cundall (Maple Hts.)
5.  R. Evans (Olentangy)       17. Ware (Westlake)
6.  Eibel(Massillon Perry)     18. Hansen (Pickerington)
7.  Townsend (Marion Harding)  19. Maxwell (Vandalia Butler)
8.  Prophet (Sandusky)         20. Baum (Ashland)
9.  Spiccia (Cuyahoga Falls)   21. Jaynes (West Carrollton)
10. Dew (Stow)                 22. Kee (Shaker Hts.)
11. Zinkan (Moeller)           23. Bamonte (Harrison)
12. Moore (Westland)           24.  Keckstein (Scioto)
13. Weaver (Waite)             25. Christy (Piqua)
                               26. M. Evans (Mansfield Madison) 

This is an exceptionally strong weight class with more than a dozen returning state qualifiers including a defending state champion and three other placers. This power is particularly evident at the Perry District where at least six state caliber wrestlers will struggle for only half that number of qualification tickets. At the same time there are at least five legitimate contenders for the State title with no assurance for anyone that they'll be wrestling Saturday evening.

The outstanding junior Mason Lenhard, the 1998 state champion at 103#, moves up to 112# this year. He was undefeated at 103# last year and swept to the title by winning his last three bouts by a combined score of 14-6 low scoring bouts all won by 2 or 3 points. This year he was 2nd to Lester at both the Ironman and Medina and barely beat DiSalvo 1-0. He looks like he's wrestling not to lose rather than to win, and his offense against good wrestlers seems reactionary. He's wonderful at converting opponents' mistakes and controlling the top position, but he just doesn't seem to initiate many scoring moves. When he falls behind, it becomes very difficult to catch up and that creates a lot of internal pressure that may reduce effectiveness.

On the other hand, DeAngelo Penn remains on an upward learning trajectory and has retained his aggressiveness. Strong and powerful, he just hasn't had any close bouts, but he still makes mistakes. Last year in the district final Lenhard caught and pinned him in the 3rd period. Brooks is kind of a super secret, but he is very good. He has won at Wadsworth and Perrysburg without a close match. Last year he took state runner up Percival into overtime in the district semifinals. Had he won that bout, Jaynes and Percival would have had to wrestle off in the consolation finals. Instead, they actually met in the state finals after Jaynes beat Brooks for 3rd. Brooks then lost two tough overtime bouts at Wright State. DiSalvo is very tough to score upon and even in his rare losses gives up very few points. He won the CIT and was 3rd at Medina after the aforementioned 1-0 loss to Lenhard. Evans, a transfer from Johathan Alder, is a huge 112 pounder who is also totally undefeated (thanks, Dan Loy). He could be a surprise finalist at this class.

The Mentor District is straightforward. You'd like to see Lenhard and Brooks meet in the finals with everyone else chasing that 3rd slot. I've listed Ware and Kee as slight favorites, but Lakia (Riverside), Passafiume (Strongsville), Mendez (Lorain Southview), or almost anybody could be challengers. Evans has two state qualifiers in this weight class at Darby, but he should be the champion. Moore and Hansen are both looking for return trips to States but Townsend is my choice to derail those hopes for one of them. A Townsend/Evans final would be exciting and could be a critical issue with the new five champions; bracketing.

State placer Prophet has been 125# much of the year, but had to drop to 112# to bypass the excellent McKinney. Prophet was 6th last year as a huge 103 pounder (if that's not an oxymoron) and will be one of the biggest 112s this year. So far he has not been stunningly successful at 112#, but this is not a difficult district. Weaver and Josefowicz look to be next best, but I sense a lot of uncertainty at this district. Baum could be a big surprise, perhaps.

DiSalvo could have his hands full with the flashy Zinkan the latter being a full speed type competitor. However, DiSalvo did notch a 3rd period pin at the CIT. I'm impressed with the freshman Jaynes who could qualify this year with a few breaks. It's hard to see any of the rest matching up well with what's around the rest of the state.

The real battle is at Perry. Penn is, I believe, ahead of the field, but he is certainly not upset proof. State qualifier Eibel was 4th at Medina losing a close consolation final to DiSalvo and finished ahead of Lenhard in Wisconsin. Spiccia, who missed state qualification last year by one point in a 10-9 loss, has already handily beaten state qualifier Dew. He might just make it to Columbus this year. However, Dew, Theodore and Cundall are all returning state qualifiers and I'm not sure I've ever seen a situation where three former state performers fail to get out of the same district.

119#

Projected Champion: Mark Jayne (St. Edward) 

Top Contenders
2.  McKinney (Sandusky)               14. Earich (Defiance)
3.  Pflug (Maple Hts.)                15. Garro (Uniontown Lake)
4.  Saley (Akron Springfield)         16. Trepal (Willoughby South)
5.  Spatola (Elder)                   17. Fukuzawa (Holland Springfield)
6.  Worley (Olentangy)                18. Cooke (Colerain)
7.  Smith (St. Xavier)                19. Sites (Dublin Coffman)
8.  Hickey (Mayfield)                 20. Palumbo (Hudson)
9.  Golembiewski (Massillon Jackson)  21. Bill (Harrison)
10. Heldman (Marietta)                22. Incorvaia (Strongsville)
11. Smith(Marion Harding)             23. Harpster (Wapakoneta)
12. Percifull(West Carrollton)        24. Brulport (Sidney)
13. Schraibman (Dublin Scioto)        25. Pope (Shaker Hts.) 

Mark Jayne is one of the finest juniors in the country. Strong, super quick and possessing a devastating arsenal of moves, he is relatively close to unbeatable at this time. Last year he wrecked the state tourney bracket pinning in the finals in 94 seconds. He was 39-1 and his only loss was on a slam disqualification in the district semifinals. This year he is even better, and only McKinney has a realistic shot at beating him. For this year and next we are looking at a future college star.

At Mentor, Hickey is the only other participant that has a reasonable chance at state placement. He won at Wadsworth over Golembiewski and remains undefeated at this point. The sophomore Trepal, the powerful Pope and the enigmatic Incorvaia have the best looks at the last berth, although Williams (Lorain Southview) could be a factor. Incorvaia went 15-13 in a loss to Hickey, but didn't come close to placing at Brecksville.

As is often the case this year, the Perry District will exhibit brutal competition. Two-time state place winner Saley and state place winner Pflug are probably best here with Pflug having a slight edge. He is the very picture of determination at tournament time. Golembiewski has had a lot of luck the last two years most of it bad. Always an outstanding competitor, injuries have forced him to miss tournament action for the last two years. State qualifier Garro will have to really hustle to get out this year, while Solon runner up Palumbo and Tepley (Garfield Hts.) will have to have a very hot weekend to make it to Columbus.

Spatola and Smith have been battling toe-to-toe for the past two years. Last year at 103#, Smith seemed to have an advantage, but in the last and most crucial meeting of that season, Spatola prevailed 7-6 in their go-to-state contest. This year they've plit two bouts, but the tide, I believe, has swung to the Spatola side. Both can score at the state level, but I'm not sure he other two qualifiers from Fairfield will be able to do so.

McKinney is light years ahead of anybody else at Rogers and is robably the biggest threat to Jayne's repeating as champion.He as won everything entered this year and the scores haven't even een half close. At Brecksville, only his 1st round bout against repal went the full 6 minutes and that score was 10-. He is ery strong and likes to go full steam. He and Jayne would light-p the scoreboard, although there would be substantially more llumination on the Jayne side.

There are five solid candidates for qualification at Darby.State qualifiers Worley, Heldman and Schraibman all return, although none of them have won a bout in the championship bracket. However Smith has had a great year and could easily displace one of the top trio. The super strong Sites was impressive at Medina, while Lesher (Westerville South) could be a factor.

125#

Projected Champion: Kevin Maehl (Olentangy) 

Top Contenders
2.  Wilcox (Oak Hills)         14. Bloomfield (Tiffin Columbian)
3.  West (Fairborn)            15. Balk (Davidson)
4.  Dies (Akron Springfield)   16. Smallwood (St. Ignatius)
5.  Bake (Massillon Jackson)   17. Staehler (Wapakoneta)
6.  Spires (Lancaster)         18. Baria (Mason)
7.  Mann (St. Edward)          19. Balog (Medina)
8.  Simon (Hoover)             20. Blair (Strongsville)
9.  Kresser (Sandusky)         21. Williams (Wayne)
10. M. McIntire (Lakota West)  22. Rieman (Marion Harding)
11. Beasley (Mayfield)         23. Adams (Toledo St. John)
12. Doggett (Tecumseh)         24. Spitzer (Mt. Vernon)
13. Beckley (Hudson)           25. Drake (Butler) 

Two-time Division II state champion Kevin Maehl moves up to Division I with the rest of his Olentangy team and must be accorded the favorite's role. Last year he won all 42 of his bouts, but things have been a little tougher this year. He lost convincingly to Blackburn at 135# and has had narrow one-point wins against Honaker and Allen. Still this is a wrestler who always looks a weight class bigger than his opponent, and one who knows how to win at tourney time. I've thought a lot about Wilcox culminating a great season with a win over Maehl, but eventually rejected it although that's not to say it won't happen. However, Maehl has the tools to win when it counts, and there is no question that he is well prepared by his coaches for each bout.

There would be a certain irony if Jason Wilcox were to take the title after being overshadowed for the last three years by his fourtime state place winner brother, Justin, who never did win a title. Jason has, indeed, had a great year winning big at the SWOCA and dominating at St. Xavier. He won two state bouts last year, and he is much better this year. West, a state semifinalist last year as a freshman, eventually finishing 6th. He has high placement potential and could be a finalist particularly if Wilcox and Maehl get paired in the same half. State qualifier Doggett returns, as do Drake and Williams, but watch out for two excellent freshman. Both McIntire and Baria are solid although I think the former is little ahead at this point. Don't be surprised to see one or both in Columbus.

State finalist Dies, state placer Simon and the rapidly improving Bake stand a clear notch above everyone else at Perry. Dies has gotten very big, moving up three weight classes from 103#. He won at North Canton, but was 2nd at Brecksville and 3rd at the Dies. He seems to have a little trouble scoring against topnotch opponents. Simon and Bake are very close, but Bake did win at Wadsworth. Still, Simon's more extensive experience could pay off at year's end. Beckley and Balog have to hope for something wonderful to happen, while the freshman DiGiovanni (Solon) and Collins (Bedford) have upset potential.

Mann has moved to the top of this weight class at the weak Mentor District. He was 5th at Medina losing by 2 to Barnett and Spires. He doesn't beat himself as evidenced by his upset win at the Ironman. State qualifier Beasley drew Ratliff and Simon back to back last year, so he's hoping for much better bracketing in 1999. Smallwood and Blair should battle for the last spot with Alli (Cleveland Hts.), or Skully (Mentor) a possibility.

Smallwood wrestles few close matches he either wins big (the more usual case) or loses big. It is also relatively weak at Rogers. Kresser has done a good job for Sandusky placing at every tourney and looking excellent in the duals. Two-time state qualifier Bloomfield will probably make it for the 3rd time. He seems always to have a lot of regular season losses, but comes through at district time. Last year he had 12 defeats, but did win a bout in the consolation round. Three years ago he scored 5 points at the end of his first round bout with Gary Skoch to pull one of the bigger upsets that year. Staehler, Adams and Wensinger (Fremont Ross) all have qualification chances, too.

There is a lot of depth at Darby. Maehl, naturally, is the top rated wrestler, but junior Johathon Spires is already a two-time state qualifier and a 6th place finisher two years ago. He wrestles with real intelligence and has won four state bouts in two years. After that, it could be Balk or Rieman or Spitzer and Dysart (Dublin Coffman) and Sheets (Westland) are also possibilities. You'll earn your ticket to the States here.

130#

Projected Champion: Jeff Ratliff (Marion Harding) 

Top Contenders
2.  Percival (Amherst)               14. Federico (Willoughby South)
3.  Z. Kallai (Wadsworth)            15. Ruth (Winton Woods)
4.  Wiles (Holland Springfield)      16. Clarke (Dublin Scioto)
5.  Williamson (Massillon Perry)     17. McCoy (Elder)
6.  Walls (Sandusky)                 18. Melsser (Toledo CC)
7.  Smith (Hamilton)                 19. Bowersock (Wapakoneta)
8.  Gottke (Franklin Hts.)           20. Lybarger (Mt. Vernon)
9.  Cost (Solon)                     21. Allen (North Royalton)
10. M. Neely (Thomas Worthington)    22. Summer (West Carrollton)
11. Adams (St. Ignatius)             23. Porter (Firestone)
12. J. Zinkan (Moeller)              24. McDowell (Troy)
13. Sheffield (Loveland)             25. Jordan (East Liverpool) 

The great warriors of ancient Greece, the Spartans, decorated their shields with a proud lambda for their country Lakedaemon. That is almost all of them. The story was told of the Spartiate whose shield bore no crest at all, but only a common housefly painted life size. When his rank mates made sport of him for this, the Spartan declared that in the line of battle he would get so close to his enemy that the housefly would look as big as a lion. To his opponents that too would appear to be the strategy adopted by Jeff Ratliff. One of the titanic match ups in the entire tournament process should take place Saturday at 130#. The favorite will be the great, two-time champion Jeff Ratliff who loves the challenge of a big bout. Two years ago he moved up to challenge Merrell and lost and this year did the same with Simok. Those are his only two losses in three years. He has already signed at Ohio State and winning his 3rd title especially over Percival would cement his claim as one of the great lightweights of this decade. He wrestles with a passion and ferocity that inflicts his will on his opponent.

Percival will be a very worthy opponent. Runner up at 112# to Jayne last year (and 3rd as a freshman), he seems to run into great opponents at the state level. He has had nothing resembling a close bout this year. At Brecksville he won by technical fall 17-0 over a quality opponent like Walls. I'm not sure any of his bouts have gone six minutes. He is demonic in the top position, able, at least so far, to turn everybody. This is the bout everyone wants to see. Percival should have absolutely no trouble at Mentor. Federico, a state qualifier at 103# two seasons ago, missed all last year and is probably second best at Mentor. Adams was a strong 3rd at the CIT losing only to Boyd and has been a high placer everywhere. Allen took Wiles into overtime at Perrysburg, while Magyar (Brush), Dennison (Mentor) and Hronek (St. Edward) have a long way to go.

Ratliff faces a deep field at Darby, but none that will really challenge him. State qualifiers Neely, Gottke and Clarke all return to vie for the two remaining state berths. They are very close and, clearly, anything could happen. In addition Lybarger, Gulbrandsen (Dublin Coffman), Campbell Pickerington) and Sanders (Westland) are all possibilities.

One of the hottest wrestlers in recent weeks is the suddenly rejuvenated Williamson. I saw him at Medina and took him off the radar screen after being drubbed by Kibler and pinned by Neely. Then he beat Daugherty, among others, to win in Wisconsin and followed that up with dual meet decision over the very tough Simon. Go figure! Last year he was a district 4th (only three to go) at 135#, losing a 13-11 overtime bout to Jakuszewski.

Zak Kallai is also excellent placement material coming out of the Perry District, while the steady Cost should win the 3rd spot. Benton Smith, a transfer from Lemon Monroe, is likely to head the pack at the closely grouped Fairfield District. He lost to the excellent Ray in the SWOCA finals and has been the most consistent 130 in that area. Zinkan, who makes every match close, could have a hot weekend and easily qualify, or could be a first-round flame out. Division II state qualifier Sheffield should qualify, but he is no sure choice either. Factor in everyone's favorite dark horse, Ruth, the once beaten McCoy, and Sommer and you have an outstanding competition.

Wiles won at the GMVWA and established himself as a force at 130#. A state runner up in Florida, he added further luster to his record by stopping Carrizales 5-1 in the Perrysburg finals. Last weekend he came down to Earth when Carrizales avenged himself with a 14-5 win, but it's clear that Wiles is a player at this weight class. Walls, too, will be a major factor. A state qualifier last year, he has been very good except for the loss to Percival. Perhaps that was not an unexpected result, but the score was surprising. The rest of the crew here is two giant steps behind the top duo.

135#

Projected Champion: Gary Skoch (Madison) 

Top Contenders
2.  Branham (Westland)             14. Miller (Toledo Central Catholic)
3.  Wahoff (Fairfield)             15. Lambers (Elder)
4.  Dimitris (Brecksville)         16. Ma. Neely (Thomas Worthington)
5.  Bolyard (Akron Springfield)    17. Mallue (Centerville)
6.  C. McIntire (Lakota West)      18. Miller (Cuyahoga Falls)
7.  Jakuszewski (Green)            19. Dunstan (St. Edward)
8.  C. Kallai (Wadsworth)          20. Poling (Rogers)
9.  J. Yetzer (Mansfield Madison)  21. Ilodi (Solon)
10. Mirisciotti (Butler)           22. Stamper (Miamisburg)
11. Robbins (Olentangy)            23. Bosley (Mayfield)
12. Carr (Sandusky)                24. N. Eger (Coffman)
13. Petsanis (Willoughby South)    25. McCreary (Marion Harding)
26. McCord (Amelia)

It's been well documented that Gary Skoch has three times been to the State Tournament, and three times has lost in the first round. As far as I'm concerned that's ancient history. Skoch, wrestling in one of the deepest and toughest weight classes in Division I, is quite simply the best choice to become the state champ. It won't be easy because there will be some outstanding boys competing in Columbus, but he has the talent and the strength to prevail. For example, this year he remains undefeated including a championship in the big Reno extravaganza. With well over 100 victories he would seem to have the experience to win the close bouts he'll inevitably encounter. This is a very deep weight class and with the five district set up, winning that district title becomes even more important. Conceivably a wrestler might have to defeat four district champs in succession to win otherwise.

This chart looks at 1998
                       Division 1    Division 2   Division 3   Total
Number of finalists        28            28          28          84
Number who were also       18            20          23          61
   district champs
%                          64            71          82          73

In Division I there were only two weight classes where a final round bout did not include a district champ, and there were none in Division II. The toughest district is at Perry. Former state place winner Dimitris has lost only to Branham and beaten Bolyard (narrowly) and Kallai. He missed last year's tournament because of mononucleosis, but has rebounded with style this year. State runner up Bolyard has lost, by my count four times, but he is the kind of wrestler who is always dangerous. He upset state champion Merrell 15-10 when the latter began to roll around on the mat with him. He can be deadly on top. As Archilochus said 2,500 years ago, the fox knows many tricks, the hedgehog only one good one. Bolyard definitely knows one good move. Jakuszewski is also a returning state qualifier, and this incredibly lanky junior is unorthodox and difficult to handle. He too, defeated Bolyard at the Dies final. If there has ever been a Kallai who was a mediocre wrestler, I haven't heard of him and Chris Kallai is no exception. He was upset by Jakuszewski in the first round of districts 12-10 and immediately eliminated. He was the champ at Wadsworth and is the fourth member of a very tough quartet and, yet, only three can qualify. Ilodi is current 19-3 and would be a surefire qualifier at Mentor had Solon been assigned in that direction. As it is, he will struggle to get to Columbus.

Branham may be Skoch's biggest threat. He is a blocky, very powerful wrestler with a continuing and constant bias for the fall. He has pinned virtually everyone he has faced (including Dimitris) and his only loss was in the Medina final to Abbuhl. Ahead early, he was injured and could not really defend himself as the excellent Abbuhl scored twice on takedowns. Eventually he was forced to default. He looks like a finalist to me. The rest of that district is pretty pedestrian, with the exception of state qualifier Robbins who could be a significant factor.

Wahoff had a great freshman year. He was the Fairfield District champ at 130# and easily won his first two bouts at States. Then meeting Key, who he had defeated 3-2 in the district, he found himself on the wrong end of that same score and finished 6th losing to Skoch 6-1. He pinned in the Kenston final and won handily at Fairfield. His district is the second best one. State qualifiers Lambers, Mirisciotti and McIntire all return and I especially like the last mentioned boy. He lost in overtime in the state quarterfinals and is much stronger this year. Mallue is also very good and has excellent qualification chances while Stamper and Hinson (Harrison) are a step behind.

Skoch dominates at Mentor with state qualifier Petsanis several respectful steps behind. Skoch defeated him 18-4 in the dual. Bosley, Dunstan, Gross (Brush) and Parker (Amherst) are possibilities for the 3rd berth. Only Skoch should get beyond the first round.

Josh Yetzer heads a weak Rogers District and he has the best chance to do something at the next level. There is a lot of parity here, but the quality is at a somewhat lower level than most of the other districts.

140#

Projected Champion: Omar Scruggs (Sycamore)

Top Contenders
2.  McAdams (Brecksville)            15. Bauer (Ashland)
3.  N. Yetzer (Mansfield Madison)    16. Dill (Wayne)
4.  Osolin (Eastlake North)          17. Sabatino (Brush)
5.  Lyons (Moeller)                  18. Snyder (Tecumseh)
6.  Hernan (Madison)                 19. Giordano (Fitch)
7.  Lampe (Glen Este)                20. Schomaker (Talawanda)
8.  Strouth (Dublin Coffman)         21. Jackson (Holland Springfield)
9.  Effner (Garfield Hts.)           22. Mills (Groveport Madison)
10. Smith (Solon)                    23. Mierau (Medina)
11. Zychowitz (Perrysburg)           24. Franke (Clay)
12. Trentler (Massillon Jackson)     25. Hite (Westland)
13. Leidich (Strongsville)           26. Zollars (Perry)
14. Reinier (Grove City)             27. Leabu (St. Edward) 

The administrative decision most likely to impact Division I wrestling this year was the uncoupling of the Central and Northwest Districts into two separate tournaments. In the past the combined district sent five wrestlers to the State but this year, by what could only be called creative rounding, each district will separately send three qualifiers.

One of the more underrated seniors in Ohio is the powerful Omar Scruggs. Already a two-time state qualifier, he has twice lost one-point state quarterfinal bouts to eventual finalists. This year he shoots for his second district title and has to be accorded the favorite role in Columbus as well. He was voted the OW at both the SWOCA and Sycamore tournaments, and his only loss was to the Russian recruit Tomaev who wrestles for Blair Academy. He took the #1 (in the U.S.) rated Tomaev into overtime before losing 6-4. Scruggs exits from an excellent district. Lyons although somewhat erratic is a big winner who pins well over 65% of his opponents. He decked the very good Durkin to win at the CIT. State qualifier Lampe has also had an excellent season, while Dill and Schomaker clearly have state caliber talent. That would seem to leave Snyder, Sorrell (Miamisburg), and Willis (Lakota East) as potential outsiders, while the totally unpredictable Ruberg (Harrison) is the wild card.

Scruggs will have one of this most severe tests against Osolin. A state place winner two years ago as a sophomore, Osolin had a fine junior year including an easy sectional title. Then in one of those infamous district bracketing happenings he and defending state champion Kulczycki were paired in the same half. Both crushed their first two opponents, but Osolin was no match for the state champ. Down by a big score in the 3rd period, Osolin was disqualified for biting and thrown out of the tourney. Ironically, Kulczycki's opponent in the state finals was the same Artino that Osolin had beaten by 12 earlier in the year. Osolin has been hurt much of this year, but if 100%, he will be the favorite here. Right behind him at Mentor is state qualifier Hernan, who was 2nd to Osolin last year in sectional action. These two seem well above other state candidates like Leidich, Sabatino and Leabu.

McAdams twice a state place winner also has finalist potential. A three-time Brecksville champ, his only two losses were at the Ironman. He has, however, twice faced Scruggs losing both times once by fall (for 5th place at Wright State) and the other this year by a 14-7 margin. He seems clearly best at the Perry District, but the battle for the last two spots will be brutal. Smith has made a quantum jump in effectiveness this year, while Effner, son of the CSU coach, has been extremely effective at 145#. He should be even better at the lower weight class. Trentler, Giordano, Mierau and Zollars are all capable of winning at the state level but their big challenge will be to get there. Factor in a Costello (Maple Hts.) and district semifinalist Barron (Akron Springfield) and you're getting to a very crowded bracket. There'll be battles from the first round on. I would not be surprised to see some of this group migrate to the somewhat easier 145# class.

Strouth heads what looks like a weak Darby contingent. He did win at Perrysburg, but did not make the finals at Coffman or Medina (where he finished 6th). Reinier is a close second choice here, but the fall off after him is very severe.

State qualifier Nate Yetzer heads a representative group from Rogers. He has solid state placement chances based on his past track record. Zychowitz, Bauer and Jackson are all very close and know how to win the tough bout. Zychowitz was 2nd at Hudson, but lost a surprise 7-6 decision to Jackson to finish 3rd at Perrysburg behind Strouth and Jackson. Franke, Marzec (Toledo St. Francis) and Geib (Wapakoneta) are other state candidates.

145#

Projected Champion: Ty Morgan (Wayne) 

Top Contenders
2.  Bertin (St. Edward)           15. Pliev (Princeton)
3.  Miglets (Fitch)               16. Maher (Pickerington)
4.  M. Kallai (Wadsworth)         17. Spreng (Mt. Vernon)
5.  Kaplan (Sycamore)             18. Sample (Madison)
6.  McCabe (St. Xavier)           19. Young (Piqua)
7.  E. Mahone (Bedford)           20. Barrow (Toledo St. Francis)
8.  Hall (Marietta)               21. Stevens (Hudson)
9.  Blanks Moeller)               22. Waight (Brush)
10. Whitacre (Akron Springfield)  23. McKinney (Davidson)
11. Risner (Perrysburg)           24. Haws (Butler)
12. Layton (Mentor)               25. DiPerna (Westerville North)
13. Blevins (Start)               26. Davis (Sandusky) 
14. Fowler (Midpark)              27. Gillette (Wapakoneta) 

This looks to be strictly a two-man battle much the same in form as we saw at 130# between Ratliff and Percival. In this particular case it is two-time state champ Ty Morgan versus state 3rd place winner Ryan Bertin. Both boys have outstanding credentials. Morgan was a Division II state champ at Graham as a freshman and junior, and was 3rd as a sophomore. He transferred to Wayne this year and the whirlwind senior has long been recognized as one of the great takedown artists in recent years. His only loss this year was in the finals at Reno. Bertin, only a junior, was a state qualifier two years ago and went into the state tourney last year as a slight favorite have won two previous decisions over Gino Iacoboni. However, this time the wheel of fate caught up with him as Iacoboni built up an early semifinal lead to win 8-6. Iacoboni took the title while Bertin finished 3rd. This year Bertin has two losses to Morgan 9-7 and Giuricich from Blair Academy, 9-7 in overtime obviously we have discovered Bertin's least favorite score. How will it turn out this time since these two should meet in the finals? Bertin will immediately recognize that he is in the opposite position from a year ago, and will feel heartened that he can duplicate the upset that Iacoboni pulled on him last year. At the same time a squadron of St. Edward coaches will be working with Bertin to combat the wicked front headlock that Morgan utilizes with such effectiveness. However, I think Morgan will win once again and for two reasons. First, despite the fact that he a good number of shots, Bertin was never able to penetrate effectively against Morgan. While there is not a lot of difference in quickness Morgan is clearly stronger equivalent, perhaps, to a good 145 pounder wrestling a good 140 pounder. Second, while Morgan did not shoot much, when he did, he was able to get inside and create scoring opportunities. The biggest negative for Morgan will be the external pressures placed upon having won the dual, two-time champ, etc.

Miglets is the wild card. A potential state placement wrestler last year, he had an unhappy district losing in two overtimes to Lattavo (who finished 4th at Wright State) and then losing the consolation final to the totally unorthodox Markovic. He should neutralize Morgan's strength, but it's unlikely he can match him on his feet. Yet another Kallai (Wadsworth's third) is also placement ready. Miglets did beat him by five in the Wadsworth final. Mahone, half-brother of the three who wrestled for Solon, is a star in the marking, while Whitacre could help Akron Springfield in the team competition.

Bertin dominates an otherwise very weak Mentor District that has only Sample with extensive district experience. Both Rogers nd Darby also have slim pickings at this weight class. Hall, in the Darby District, has perhaps the best chance to have an impact in Columbus.

Morgan exits probably the strongest and deepest district at Fairfield. McCabe is a returning state qualifier who has put together a 19-4 mark. He was 2nd at the SWOCA to the improving Kaplan who I believe has moved ahead of him. Blanks, Young and Haws are all reasonably good, while Pliev is a bit of a mystery. He was only 6th at the SWOCA, but won convincingly at St. Xavier defeating McCabe in the finals 10-2. Apparently, he has just moved here from Russia and speaks very little English. Also, he is just learning our style of wrestling, but is improving rapidly. That explains his 6 losses and may make him a major factor late in the year. Keep your eye on him.

152#

Projected Champion: Sean Watters (Wadsworth) 

Top Contenders
2. Tolar (St. Edward)         15. Varga (Nordonia) 
3. Padgett (Fairfield)        16. Aaron (Sandusky) 
4. Magistrelli (Maple Hts.)   17. Klimkowicz (Madison)
5. Kull (Toledo St. John)     18. Bartlett (Wapakoneta)
6. Kapustka (Centerville)     19. Brenneman (Green)
7. DeAnna (Westlake)          20. Stephens (Brookhaven)
8. Malone (Shaw)              21. Osting (Piqua)
9. Miller (Marietta)          22. Dillard (Marion Franklin)
10. Braly (Lakota East)       23. Green (Cleveland JFK)
11. Kuhner (Pickerington)     24. Terry (Toledo Scott)
12. Krieger (Coffman)         25. Schilling (Mentor)
13. Niehaus (Harrison)        26. Gossen (Waite)
14. Heard (Princeton)         27. Miceli (Hudson) 

Again, this appears to be pretty much a two-man battle and I know this is beginning to sound repetitive. However, like 130# and 145#, this weight class seems to be dominated by two high placing returnees from last year. While the likes of Padgett, Magistrelli, et. al., does not preclude upsets, if they do occur they will be of substantial magnitude. Watters is a very athletic, high scoring wrestler who moves well and is now also very experienced at winning. Last year he lost to Lou Iacoboni in the district semifinals, and again in the state finals. It capped a 36-win year that featured monotonic improvement. This year Watters remains unbeaten in Ohio losing only to Gibbs of Canon-McMillan 12-5.

Tolar, a transfer two years ago from Padua, also had a great junior season winning his district championship without a struggle and then moving smartly to the state semifinals where his nemesis three-time state champ Keaton Anderson defeated him once again and he dropped into 3rd place. This year Tolar has wrestled a flawless schedule except for a 5-1 loss to Watters. A bout which was dominated by Watters strength. Interestingly enough Tolar bombed Watters' conqueror, Gibbs, 13-3. In terms of a forecast, you've got to weight the head-to-head match up far higher than any single set of results between common opponents. But the scores with Gibbs the same day as their meeting would certainly provide hope for Tolar.

State qualifiers DeAnna and Malone join Tolar at Mentor to create a formidable trio. Malone missed state placement by one point last year, but it was actually DeAnna who won their only meeting 4-2. Klimkowicz is the big threat here and he will certainly challenge everyone here except Tolar. He lost his go-to-state bout last year 12-9. Green, probably the best Senate wrestler, could also be a factor along with Schilling, Lomas (Geneva) and Kartson (St. Ignatius).

Magistrelli is the principal threat to Watters at Perry. Last year he qualified at 145# as a freshman (quite a feat), and then lost his first round bout in overtime. This year he pinned DeAnna at Brecksville, but I thought he looked a little sloppy at the Milkovich Quad. He struggled against a good Michigan wrestler and then lost convincingly to Division III Klinger. I wonder whether the long snow layoff played a factor in that performance. The gritty Varga is on the bubble in the third qualifying spot, but Brennaman, Miceli and Johnson (Massillon Jackson) will struggle to beat him.

State qualifier Kull heads a relatively weak Rogers District. He beat Kapustka to win the GMVWA, but was 2nd to Monachino at the CIT. This is his second year at this weight class, and it should result in good low to middle place opportunities. Aaron and Bartlett are probably next best here, but neither made district competition last year. Terry and Goosen are even less experienced, while Hinton (Celina) and Edwards (Mansfield Madison) are other possibilities.

State qualifier Miller joins Kuhner, Krieger and Stephens at Darby as the top quartet looking to fill three state places. None of this group has shown outstanding results, but each has good experience and skills. Krieger certified at 145#, but I believe will probably compete at 152#. I always have the feeling that he is very close to being very good. Maybe it will happen at state tournament time. Stephens is very athletic and could be the one to pull the big upset in Columbus, if he can get there.

Again, the deepest district is probably at Fairfield. Padgett is undefeated this year including a monster win at Kenston. State qualifiers Kapustka and Niehaus are back, but both seem to generate erratic results. Kapustka qualified as a freshman, but then wrestled at three different classes and didn't get out last year. Osting is the one to be wary of, and I believe he may be underrated where I've placed him. He was only 4th at Tiffin and 2nd at Wapakoneta, but seems to be showing good improvement. Albers (Moeller), Stevens (Carroll) and McDaniel (Wayne) are other possibilities.

160#

Projected Champion: Ryan Lange (Nordonia) 

Top Contenders
2.  Fenos (North Royalton)        15. Hoover (Willoughby South)
3.  Smith (Lorain Southview)      16. Pace (Brush)
4.  Phillips (Maple Hts.)         17. Wetherby (Davidson)
5.  Carraher (St. Xavier)         18. Blidner (Westerville South)
6.  Gargiulo (Amherst)            19. Clemens (Carroll) 
7.  Abrams (Lebanon)              20. Wood (Ashland)
8.  Healy (Sylvania Northview)    21. Davis/Klaus (Wadsworth)
9.  Mahone (Solon)                22. Gizzi (St. Ignatius)
10. Schweda (St. Edward)          23. Smith (Perrysburg)
11. Griffith (Centerville)        24. Walker (Mt. Vernon)
12. Stark (Massillon Jackson)     25. Doerflein (Harrison)
13. Covert (Sycamore)             26. Vandiver (Holland Springfield)
14. Brown(Pickerington)           27.  Berry (Upper Arlington) 

It will not encourage Lange, but from a prediction point of view, this has been my worst weight class ever. I've missed it the last five years, but Lange certainly is a good candidate to halt this slide. One of the best defensive wrestlers of the '90s, he has added more offense to his arsenal. Last year state champion Gray Maynard just pounded everyone, but he escaped with two very narrow victories over Lange one in the Medina finals the other in the state finals. This year Lange has lost only once an out-of-state opponent at the Ironman where he finished 3rd.

Lange emerges from a very fine district. State qualifier Phillips returns and captured titles at Brecksville and Franklin Hts. He has twice beaten state place winner Gargiulo during the past 12 months. David Mahone is also a returning state qualifier with tremendous ability. He seems to wrestle to the level of his opponent, but has won some big bouts. Fenos defeated him twice last year. Stark is a wild card. He has results all over the map. Last year he was a district 4th just missing qualification, but you don't want to meet him in a crucial bout. Davis and Mowery (Massillon Perry) are also good. It's like old time for the Mentor District at 160#. Even with Malone moving to 152#, this weight class is loaded. State qualifier Fenos has been exceptional all year. Last year he might have had the worse state draw of 1998. He got eventual champ Sellet in the first round losing 7-4 and they drew the defending state champ (and eventual 3rd place finisher) Walker next and dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker. Another potential state finalist is the very talented junior Mike Smith. A state qualifier two years ago he won his sectional last year and came to the district level with a 38-2 record only to be forced to withdraw because of injury. Undefeated this year he walloped the excellent Division II wrestler Corey Coe 9-3.

A healthy Smith need fear no one. Gargiulo was an enormous surprise to me last year. As a sophomore he carried seven losses into district competition, but won twice convincingly to reach the semis before losing to Phillips and then lost the consolation final by nine. Yet at the state level he again reached the semifinals before losing to Maynard and ended up 4th. It was a marvelous performance and included two highscoring overtime wins. He has lost only twice this year. Schweda won the big Medina Tourney in impressive fashion, but he's the odd man out the way I have it rated. Pace, Hoover and Gizzi are also excellent, but that's seven boys for three spots. All seven of them are among the best 20 or so in the state. While Hank Kornblut said to keep quiet, an obvious strategy for some of these competitors is to look at the relative void at 171# and begin calculating probabilities. It strikes me that two or three of this group might eventually decide to go up.

I believe that there are also some good potential point scorers at Fairfield. State qualifier Carraher has been excellent beating state qualifier Abrams to win the SWOCA by two. An upset loser at the CIT, he still has good placement potential. State qualifiers Abrams and Griffith will beat most low district finishers, but will have trouble with the contingents from Mentor and Perry. Covert has been a big, new name in that area while placing at the Ironman and SWOCA and giving everyone a tough battle. Mix in Clemens, Doerflein and Schwieterman (Northmont) and this is the third most powerful district.

However, I don't see much power at either Rogers or Darby. The singular exception is state qualifier Healy who should be competitive with anyone here. The other two qualifiers out of Rogers will struggle, as well, I believe, all three from Darby. Brown, who was 25-0 in Germany last year is probably best there, but Covert, for example, beat him 8-1 at the SWOCA.

171#

Projected Champion: Vincent Gay (Trotwood Madison) 

Top Contenders
2.  Salmon (Worthington Kilbourne)       14. Owens (Marion Harding)
3.  Schnitzler (Moeller)                 15. Casteel (Loveland)
4.  Hasenohrl (Maple Hts.)               16. Roberts (Holland Springfield)
5.  Lance (Wadsworth)                    17. Blanton (Shaker Hts.)
6.  Mazzola (St. Edward)                 18. Schwalm (Coffman)
7.  Chesher (Toledo Central Catholic)    19. Cline (Piqua)
8.  S. Foster (Stow)                     20. Stephenson (Reynoldsburg) 
9.  Shepard (Oak Hills)                  21. Smith (Chardon)
10. Livingston (Sycamore)                22. Braun (Wapakoneta)
11. M. Delguyd (Mayfield)                23. Carter (Cloverleaf)
12. Dominick (Eastlake North)            24. Lilly (Bowling Green)
13. Serafimov (Hoover)                   25. Collins (Miamisburg) 

Mozart was a genius at taking a musical theme and examining it in countless, charming variations. So, too, this year in Division I wrestling where the theme is outstanding twoman match ups. At 171# this translates into a struggle between two-time state runnerup Vincent Gay and the rapidly improving Dan Salmon. Gay is a marvelous athlete. As a sophomore he came to Wright State at 160# and crushed his first three opponents before running into Andy Hrovat and losing a one-sided final. Last year he came to the state meet with a 36-0 mark at 171# and quickly moved to the finals (with one very close bout with Dobies) only to lose to Osolin 6-4 defeated by the wrestler who for two weekends was kind of a man of destiny. This year after spending time at 189#, he returns at 171# with only one loss (at 189#). In Ohio history there have only been two wrestlers who were state runner ups three times. Gene Gibbons (Cleveland West) in 1945/46/47 and Norm Codner in 1953/54/55. Gibbons, of course, went on to win an NCAA title and is, coincidentally retiring this year after over 45 years of coaching, while Codner lost two of his three final round bouts by referee's decision.

Dan Salmon is hoping to make Vincent Gay the third member of this club. A state semifinalist last year, he lost a heart pounding 9-8 decision to Osolin or he would have met Gay in the finals last year. Particularly impressive was his 23-12 quarterfinal win over Ryan Kinley. This year Salmon has not been pushed much, and he appears ready to challenge Gay, perhaps a year later than expected.

There is a large drop-off between this duo and everybody else although you cannot totally rule out a major upset. Gay exits the Fairfield District which is quite strong. SWOCA champ Schnitzler is probably the best in the Cincinnati area, although Chesher upset him at the CIT. State qualifier Livingston has battled injuries and may have been passed by the vastly improved Shepard. That's a possible qualifying quartet, but state qualifier Casteel could also play a role here. Hampered by injuries all year, he may be held out until sectional action begins. It would be asking a lot for him to jump immediately into action and qualify. Cline and Collins are also worthy candidates, while Hermosillo (Fairmont), Schinke (Greenville) and Carpenter (Centerville) have a huge mountain to climb.

Injuries have also hampered state qualifier Lance and Hasenohrl may have passed him at Perry. Wadsworth with all kinds of excellent upper weight wrestlers still needs a healthy Lance to buoy their team hopes. State qualifier Foster also returns in what is a solid district. Serafimov may pull a surprise here while Carter could be a factor.

Ironman champion and Medina runner up Mazzola heads a rather shallow field at Mentor. A first year starter for St. Edward, Mazzola has stepped right in with exceptional success. In fact, his back up Hallahan might well be second best in this district. I've listed several other candidates for qualification, but I think you'll see this group augmented by some 160s looking for a home.

Salmon and Chesher should be dominant at the Darby and Rogers districts respectively. It is difficult to imagine anyone threatening Salmon at Darby, while Chesher may meet some opposition from Roberts. At any rate, the four other qualifiers from these two districts will likely have short passage to the early consolidation rounds.

189#

Projected Champion: Alex Lammers (Wayne) 

Top Contenders
2.  Miller (Wapakoneta)            15. Burd (Fairfield)
3.  Weppler (Marietta)             16. Bialowas (St. Edward)
4.  N. Delguyd (Mayfield)          17. Kerr (Olentangy)
5.  DeVitis (Green)                18. Good (Kent Roosevelt)
6.  Freday (Hoover)                19. Hudson (Sycamore)
7.  Thompson (Winton Woods)        20. Hoelter (Perrysburg)
8.  R. Donley (Clay)               21. Davis (North Royalton)
9.  Tipka (New Philadelphia)       22. Muntean (Worthington Kilbourne)
10. Dolezal (Carroll)              23. B. Foster (Stow)
11. Cherry (Sandusky)              24. Wilson (Parma)
12. Mi. Delguyd (Eastlake North)   25. Seitz (Milford)
13. Fink (Willoughby South)        26. Forshtay (Fremont Ross)
14. Chilcote (Groveport Madison)   27. Nutter (Defiance)

Of my 14 picks in Division I last year, two were eliminated in quarterfinal action and three more during the semifinals. That left nine remaining and, surprisingly, all nine won their final round bout. It marked the second consecutive year that all my choices who made it to the final won. Going back to 1996, the last 20 finalists that I've selected have won the issue, of course, is that a fair number of selections get eliminated before they can reach that state final round.

This weight class presents some severe forecasting problems because the top contenders have not met and in fact wrestle schedules that make it difficult for me to see them. Lammers, now a junior, was a state semifinalist last year, before losing to McCaffrey and eventually falling to 4th. His only loss was at Reno where Division III pick Sintobin caught him early for 5 points, and he could never quite catch up. He has not wrestled a lot of the top contenders, but his past record indicates a high percentage of probable success. Miller is a mystery man. Last year he was a district champion and rolled into Wright State undefeated only to get a horrendous draw in the form of Richie Root in the first round and then was gone when Root lost in the next round. This year he has again crushed every opponent, but we're not talking about the biggest tournaments in Ohio, either. Still a wrestler with his kind of results suggests a very, very dangerous opponent. He could well be something of an champ if he remains on a tear during the first week of March. District champ and state qualifier Weppler also wrestles in kind of an out-of-the-way part of the state, but he, too, has great credentials. He was 2nd at Medina at 215#, and lost only because he was at a significant size disadvantage. He should be dynamite at 189#. Last year he missed placement because of a 1-point loss to Delguyd but he looks better than Delguyd this year.

Miller should dominate at Rogers. Donley is probably next best, but hasn't competed in a while, and I've heard, second-hand, that he's done for the year. Cherry can either be very good or very mediocre. Hoelter, Forshtay and Nutter look like the best candidates for the third berth (if Donley is indeed absent), with the hard-to-spell Katafiasz (Sylvania Northview) a short step behind.

Lammers, probably, won't have that much trouble at Fairfield, but Thompson has surprised everyone winning the SWOCA and Sycamore in fine fashion. He has come out of nowhere to win and win often. The quartet of Dolezal, Burd, Hudson and Seitz are all reasonable alternatives for qualification, while Wegley (Tecumseh) and Wawsczyk (Troy) are also possibilities.

State qualifier Chilcote is well behind Weppler but there is not much else at Darby to worry him. Most of the other apparent contenders failed to reach the district level last year.

All is confusion at Mentor and Perry. Nick Delguyd finished 5th last year, and looks on target to, perhaps, match or slightly better that result. The two-ranked Delguyds from Mayfield are brothers and they are I believe Nick's uncles or perhaps, vice-versa. At any rate I've also ranked Mike here along with state qualifier Fink, Bialowas and the surprisingly good Wilson. Also in the hunt are Hageman (Westlake), D'Amico (Euclid) and Adams (Midpark).

Freday and DeVitis are essentially dead even with little to choose between. For example DeVitis won 9-8 at Wadsworth. I've ranked Tipka at 189#, but it could just as easily be his teammate Miller. They're both good. Not rated but solid contenders are Camino (Solon) and Hawk (Akron Springfield).

215#

Projected Champion: Jared Tanner (Nordonia) 

Top Contenders
2.  Lenix (Toledo Central Catholic) 14. Fails (Madison)
3.  Bond (Wayne)                    15. Theodore (Boardman)
4.  Miocic (Eastlake North)         16. Zeller (Butler)
5.  Krajnak (Solon)                 17. Miller (New Philadelphia)
6.  Salsberry (East Liverpool)      18. Dawson (St. Edward)
7.  Hudson (Westland)               19. Rosekelly (Sandusky)
8.  Andria (Thomas Worthington)     20. Carmichael (Carroll)
9.  Morris (Harrison)               21. McCoy (Findlay)
10. Householder (Ashland)           22. Findlay (Moeller)
11. Quimby (Fairfield)              23. Maldonado (Lorain Southview)
12. Bessen (Davidson)               24. Hreben (Perrysburg)
13. Spreng (Mt. Vernon)             25. Null (Troy)
                                    26. Clawson (Massillon) 

We've dealt with a lot of weight classes where there are two or three obvious candidates for a state title and will do so again at heavyweight. However, at 215# the race for the championship is wide open, with no one wrestler or even one small group of contenders high probability items. Instead, this is one of those competitions where someone I've ranked in double-digits could play a significant or winning role in this little drama.

My choice is the senior from Nordonia, Jared Tanner. He as a 4th place finisher last year at this class, losing a close quarterfinal bout to the eventual champ Brad Hensley 11-8. This year he beat Miocic 8-7 for 3rd at the Ironman and squeaked by Hampton to win the WRC. A good, solid wrestler he is a steady performer, but certainly not an invincible one. Krajnak lost to Tanner in overtime at States last year and twice more this season. He is probably second best and has good chance for placement or even as a finalist. State qualifier Salsberry is a highscoring pinner who can beat anybody in this field on a good day. This is a remarkably good trio coming out of Perry, but they are not bullet proof. The excellent Miller and Clawson are here while Theodore is the big unknown. Last year he was district semifinalist but ended up 4th at this three-man district. That same unhappy fate could await him again this year. Kaufman (Wadsworth) and Wendolowski (Normandy) are other very longshot possibilities.

Miocic and Fails look to be the two best out of Mentor. After them all is confusion and darkness with very few candidates even approaching state ability. Dawson, with a good record wrestling a tough schedule might be marginally the top choice for the third spot. The pairings should be good with Miocic and Fails exiting the same district.

The powerful Lenix is a returning state qualifier and district champ. He won two bouts at Wright State, but lost to Tanner in the state placement bout. He is undefeated this year, except for a 1-0 point loss to Rowlands in the CIT final when he became one of the few competitors to go the full 6 minutes with Tommy. Householder was a heavyweight qualifier last year, but only wrestled one bout after getting pinned by the mammoth Davie. He has had injury problems this year, but should be a factor by state time. The rest of the district, like at Mentor, does not send one's heart pounding. Hudson was 5th last year, but will, I believe, struggle to duplicate that result.

Andria and Bessen are also returning state qualifiers at Darby while Spreng has shown rapidly improving results. This is one of the better districts (though not as strong as Perry) and whichever three qualify will provide honest and difficult competition for every opponent.

At Fairfield, Morris is the returning state place winner, but I think Bond may have passed him. Add in the redoubtable Quimby and again there is in place a solid trio of performers.

HVY.

Projected Champion: Edward Thomas (Cleveland Hts.) 


Top Contenders 
2.  Stepanovich (Berea)                  14. Padilla (Wayne)
3.  Davie (Perrysburg)                   15. Billingsley (Defiance)
4.  Ramsey (Fairfield)                   16. Alli (Boardman)
5.  King (Mt. Vernon)                    17. Arocho (Lorain Southview)
6.  Walling (Piqua)                      18. Finley (Pickerington)
7.  Leckrone (Fairmont)                  19. Howell (Garfield Hts.)
8.  Piccirillo (Mayfield)                20. Stuckey (Winton Woods)
9.  Bowers (Westerville South)           21. Watkins (Meadowdale)
10. Irving (Mansfield)                   22. Griffin (Admiral King)
11. Potts (Marion Harding)               23. Hyams (Sycamore)
12. Burtscher (Toledo Central Catholic)  24. Townsend (Toledo Woodward)
13. Carbone (Massillon Perry)            25. Stone(Cuyahoga Falls) 

I think this is basically a three-man competition between Stepanovich, Thomas and Davie although with the rash of upsets always possible at heavyweight a case for Ramsey can also be made. In terms of the big three I first would eliminate the huge Davie. While he scores well against less than topgrade competition he doesn't do much against topcaliber boys. Of course, he is so big that nobody has much luck scoring against him either. So you end up with a lot of low scoring bouts that drive referees crazy. Davie won one state bout last year, but he will have to be more aggressive to beat both Stepanowich and Thomas.

The battle between the two Mentor District contestants is in my mind a toss-up. Stepanovich won 3-2 at districts last year, but Thomas was state runner-up and Stepanovich was upset in the first round by Ramsey. Thomas also pinned Davie on his way to the final. This year Stepanovich again won with a lightning fast pin, but that was just capitalizing on a fluky mistake. The only advantage Thomas seems to have is that he pins more, thus reducing the margin for error. I flipped a coin and it came up Thomas. You can do the same. Thomas and Stepanovich should dominate at Mentor, but Piccirillo is also pretty good. He will not be one of those outsized heavyweights (he wrestled some at 215# this year), but has good movement. He may look at lot more active to the referees than some of the really big boys and that could help him in a close bout. Arocho and Griffin are longshots to qualify while Adamcyzk (Strongsville) and Orsky (St. Edward) are even further back.

Ramsey has the best shot of defeating someone in that top triumvirate. As a sophomore last year he caught Stepanovich in the first round, but then was twice pinned in the next two rounds. He was an easy winner at Kenston, but lost to Leckrone at his home tourney. There are a lot of relatively good heavyweights with Ramsey at Fairfield. Walling missed state qualification by one point last year, but he gives up 20 pounds to Ramsey and 35 to Stepanovich, Thomas and Davie. The afore-mentioned Leckrone is also solid while the huge Padilla could sneak into a qualification spot. Mix in Stuckey, Hyams and Watkins and you have a potent brew of heavyweights. Look for a couple of them to place.

King is perhaps best at Darby, but he has lost to Potts (when ahead) and Bowers has lots of talent. A key here might be how healthy Bowers is in late February he has to work his way back from a broken hand. King seems to score more heavily this year, but he has to avoid the big mistake but then again which one of us does not.

Davie should have little trouble at Rogers although there are some other good heavyweights there. Burtscher is quick and can be effective against certain styles. Irving, who missed the last couple years is making up for lost time by winning a lot of impressive bouts. I would like to have seen him at the Gorman because it might have provided a good yardstick by which to measure his progress. Billingsley and Townsend are both experienced and certainly will be satisfactory replacements should any of the top trio fail. I also like Gibson (Sandusky) and Gibson (Holland Springfield) at Rogers.

The Perry District is uncharacteristically very weak. Carbone is as big as the rules allow and has had some success including a semifinal appearance at Medina. However, whoever qualifiers here will have rough sledding the next weekend.

You can contact me at John@Ohiowrestler.com

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