(Left) Montpelier Locomotive Senior Sean Taylor in action at the D III State Individual Wrestling Tournament. (Right) Wauseon Indian Wade Hodges at the D II State Individual; Wrestling Tournament.
By: Mark Mercer
The Village Reporter
COLUMBUS: February 27, 2014 – March 1, 2014: The Ohio High School Athletic Association Individual State Wrestling Tournament, held at the Schottenstein Center on the Campus of the Ohio State University, is held as one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation. The landscape of collegiate wrestling is littered with former Ohio High School State Championship grapplers and Ohio on a year to year basis yields some of the top college prospects in the nation. Qualifying for a select spot in one of the 13 weight classes at the Division I, II and III competition is rigorous, and to gain the invite is a top honor. Four wrestlers in each weight class, qualifying from the four District Meets held throughout Ohio receive the invitation, assembling a field of 16 wrestlers in each weight class. The competition at the state tournament wrestles off for one of 7 places awarded at the championships, and each wrestler’s goal is to stand on top of the platform at the conclusion of competition and claim the title of State Champion.
This past weekend, four area wrestlers qualified and participated in the State Tournament down in Columbus. For the Montpelier Locomotives, in the 126 lb weight class, Senior Sean Taylor qualified out of the Bowling Green State University D III District Meet, off of one of the most memorable second day performances at BGSU to power his way into the state meet. For the Wauseon Indians at the D-II level, three individuals earned an invitation to the State Championships; Junior Wade Hodges in the 132 lb weight class, Sophomore Tre Campbell in the 160 lb weight class, and Senior Aaron Schuette in the 170 lb weight class. For the Indians, Schuette returned to Columbus as the 2013 State Runner-Up in the 160 lb weight class, while Hodges made his third consecutive trip to Columbus, posting a 7th place finish as a freshman and returning home in 2013 with a 4th place finish.
Montpelier Locomotive Senior Sean Taylor opened competition at the state meet on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the opening ceremony was held, in session one.. Wrestling in the Championship Bracket, Taylor was matched against Loudonville’s Junior Colton Ullman, who brought a 29-6 record to Columbus. Ullman qualified for the state tournament out of the Garfield Heights District, finishing as runner-up. In the opening match, Taylor suffered a 1st round 14-2 loss, unable to gain the initiative in the match, and dropping the Loco Senior to the Consolation Bracket. For Taylor, this meant another match on the opening Thursday night and facing the possibility of an early day one elimination from the tournament.
Taylor’s Consolation Round 1 match-up, Caldwell’s Kolby Rayner, came into the state meet with a 37-9 mark. Rayner drew overall number one ranked Jarred Granger out of Covington, losing by tech fall to the eventual State Champion Ganger. Against the Junior from Caldwell, Taylor wrestled a smart and aggressive match, keeping the Junior from gaining a foothold in the match and securing the 10-7 victory to survive day one and advance to the 2nd Consolation Round on Friday morning.
Consolation Round 2’s match-up for the Loco’s Taylor was Versailles’ Matt Mangen, a Senior with a 39-12 record who won his opening match of the meet, but dropped a close battle with eventual Runner-Up Zach Durban, who lost the State Title match by 1 point.
In the match, both wrestlers traded leads in the opening period, and throughout the contest both wrestlers fought for their tournament life. When the clock drained to zero at the end of the third period, Mangen held the upper hand 9-5, with Taylor dropping his second match of the tournament, and closing out his Locomotive Career. Taylor concluded his Senior Campaign with a 37-15 record.
Taylor reflected on his Senior Season after conclusion of his run in the tournament stating “It was my goal to get 100 wins and reach state my senior year, and I accomplished that here this weekend. In looking back I am glad I put in the hard work to reach my goal and it has been a great experience these past two days.” In speaking with Head Coach Troy Roth regarding Sean’s performance, Roth stated “I thought Sean wrestled very solid vs. some very good talent. I told Sean that reaching the state meet would bring new challenges and it would be a new game against some very talented wrestlers. When evenly matched opponents are on the mat a move here and there can be the difference between moving on and going home. Overall I am very proud of Sean and what he has accomplished.”
Wauseon’s Junior Wade Hodges entered the state meet with very high expectations, and they were well earned. Coming off of a first place finish at the BGSU D II District Tournament, Hodges brought a 45-4 record to state competition. Hodges has already set his reputation as one of the 132 lb weight class’s finest wrestlers, posting a 7th place finish as a Freshman in 2012 and taking home a 4th place finish in his Sophomore season. Opening competition on February 27 in round one of the Champions Bracket, Hodges was paired with Kenton Ridge Senior Seth Cochran, who brought a 40-10 record out of the Wilmington District. In the match, Hodges took control by scoring the opening points, staying out in front of the Senior from Kenton Ridge throughout the match. Hodges earned a 9-5 decision to move to the Quarterfinals of the 132 lb weight class with the victory.
Quarterfinal matches began on Friday morning, February 28, in the second session of the tournament. Hodges Quarterfinal opponent, Garrett Cater out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary came to the state meet as a Runner-Up finisher at the Alliance District, entering with a 38-11 record. Carter advanced with an opening round win over Buckeye Valley Senior DayShawn Haynes by pin in the third period. Though in the Quarterfinal match-up, Carter fought a well wrestled match, but Wauseon’s Hodges held a slight advantage and when the final whistle blew, Hodges walked off of the mat with a 5-2 victory and a Semi-Final slot for Friday night action. With the victory over Cater, Hodges assured a third straight state-placement finish for his career.
Friday night’s Semi-Final match up for Hodges would be powerhouse St. Paris Graham Local’s Sophomore Brent Moore, fresh off of a tech fall 21-6 victory in the Quarterfinals over Crestwood’s Conner Nemec. Moore entered the state meet by earning a District Title at the Wilmington District Meet and brought a 40-3 record into the match. In the battle between these two District Champions, neither wrestler gained any advantage throughout the match, with each scoring on an escape and ending the regulation third period knotted at 1 each. In the first overtime 30 second period, with each wrestler trying for a takedown and score, but neither wrestlers were able to secure the win. Following the 30 second neutral period, each wrestler would have a 30 second riding period; gain an escape and ride out your opponent in the next 30 second period and secure the victory. However, in the case of Wauseon’s Hodges and Graham’s Moore, these two wresters fought a championship style battle but once again, no points were scored and the match would move into “ultimate tie breaker.” In this tiebreaker situation, the first wrestler that scored in the match had choice of top or bottom and must either escape if on bottom or ride out the opponent if on top. Hodges, who scored the 1st point in the match with a second period escape, selected to be the bottom wrestler in the UTB period. In what would be a controversial call for some on the sidelines and in the stands, towards the end of the 30 second period Hodges appeared to have gained a reversal, which would have given Hodges the 2 points and the match. However, the referees in the match saw it different and the call went in Moore’s favor, denying the reversal point and dropping Hodges out of Championship contention and into the Semi-Finals of the Consolation Bracket with a UTB 2-1 loss.
In the Consolation Semi-Finals Hodges won a nail biter over Circleville’s Tyler Knul by a 2-0 decision to advance to the Consolation Finals for 3rd/4th place. In the Finals match vs. Aaron Gessic from Perry High School, Gessic frustrated Hodges with control throughout the match and did not allow the Junior Indian to get on track. The final whistle sounded and the Senior from Perry prevailed in a hard fought 3-0 win, ending Hodge’s 2014 campaign with a 4th place finish and a 47-6 mark on the season.
Sophomore Tre Campbell entered competition in Columbus off of a dominating performance in the BGSU District Meet, capturing the title to advance to State. Campbell’s tournament opened up with a match up vs. Athens’s Junior Troy Stalder, who advanced out of the Wilmington District with a fourth place finish. In the opening round on Thursday night, Campbell dominated Stalder from the opening seconds, and never allowing the Athens Junior to get on track, posting a 17-3 major decision to move to the Quarterfinals in the Championship Bracket. Facing Campbell in round two would be returning State Champion Sophomore Alex Marinelli out of St. Paris Graham Local, bringing a 45-2 mark to the match. In the opening session on day 2, Campbell took the mat against the nationally ranked Marinelli looking for the upset, but the Graham Sophomore ended the match early with a 46 second pin in the opening period, dropping Campbell to the Semi-Finals of the Consolation Bracket. later, on Saturday Night in the Finals session, Marinelli would claim his second straight State Championship.
Campbell’s Semi-Final match-up, Senior Alonzo Turner out of Painsville Harvey came into the state meet as the District Title Champion of the Alliance meet. In the match held on Saturday morning, March 1, Campbell and Turner fought a very hard battle and both wrestler’s were evenly matched, but Campbell was able to secure the 3-2 victory and claim a spot later in the morning in the 3rd/4th place Consolation Finals.
Winding out the tournament, Campbell’s match-up in the final bout was Ben Schram, a Junior out of Bellbrook High School and the District Runner-Up from the Wilmington District. In the match, Schram was aggressive from the opening whistle, keeping Campbell off balance and at the 2:47 mark in the match gaining the pin and ending Campbell’s tournament with a 4th place finish. In speaking with Campbell following the match, the talented Sophomore stated “I am very happy with how my tournament finished out, capturing 4th here at State. I feel this will give me a lot of momentum coming in next year and working towards that State Championship.” Campbell’s season ended with a 42-12 record.
In the 170 lb weight class, Senior Aaron Schuette entered competition with high expectations, having concluded his 2013 campaign with a State Runner-Up showing, The Senior Indian opened up his 2014 State Meet with a dominating opening Championship Round pin over Buckeye Valley senior Jim Brittsan (40-10) ending the match at the 1:03 mark in the second period to move to Championship Quarterfinal action. Schuette’s 2nd round opponent, Senior Mike Audi from Poland Seminary entered state action as the District Title holder from the Alliance District, and brought a 38-4 record to the tournament. In session 2 Friday morning action, Schuette opening the match with Audi with a quick take down, gaining the advantage and frustrating the Buckeye Valley Senior throughout the match. Schuette recorded a dominant 8-0 victory over Audi, advancing to the championship Semi-Finals.
Schuette’s Championship Semi-Final opponent would be Carlisle Senior Jimmy Sandlin. Sandlin entered competition as the Wilmington District Champion, and had only dropped 1 match all season, bringing a 42-1 record onto the mat. Schuette scored the opening points to take a 2-0 lead in the match but the Carlisle Senior grabbed the lead early in the third period 3-2. Schuette used every ounce of energy and every bit of experience to try and gain the upper hand, but was unable to penetrate Sandlin’s defense and in the end, Schuette experienced a 5-2 setback and dropped to the Senior Schuette to the Semi-Finals of the Consolation Bracket.
In Saturday morning session three action ,Schuette drew Washington Courthouse Miami Trace Junior Russell Miller. Schuette and Miller battled for every final second of the Cons Semi match, but Miller was able to maintain the upper hand and a disappointed Schuette walked off the mat on the short end of a 5-4 decision, placing the Indian Senior in the 5th/6th place Consolation match. In his final match of his stellar career as a Wauseon Indian, Schuette made quick work of Sunbury Big Walnut’s Alec Eisnnicher by recording the pin at the 37 second mark in the match and completing a 5th place finish at the State Meet. Schuette stated afterwards “I am disappointed this year, having come off of a Runner-Up finish here last year, I expected more, but the competition here is incredibly difficult.”
Overall for the Wauseon Indians as a team, the efforts of Hodges, Campbell and Schuette netted 41 points on the meet and placed Wauseon tied for 7th out of a field of 82 teams.