Nearly 700 competitors will converge at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center for the state wrestling championships today through Saturday.
It’s possibly the ultimate survive-and-advance tournament — a test of will and stamina.
Central Catholic will take its largest contingent ever as a school-record nine wrestlers advanced from the Division II district.
“All the credit goes to the guys,” Irish coach Tony Guerra said. “They put in a lot of hard work and dedication in the offseason and in the season, and they all had goals.
“I don’t think any of their goals are achieved yet. Just making it to the state tournament, I don’t think, is enough for them. They wanted to go down and get on the podium. That would be a great feat for these guys.”
Only top-rated St. Paris Graham (12) and power Uhrichsville Claymont (11) have more state qualifiers in D-II. Perrysburg qualified eight.
Central’s district champions were Alex Mossing (152 pounds, 32-3 record), Josh Mossing (138, 36-9), Chris Norwood (220, 29-10), and J’Quan Fisher (285, 29-6). Other advancing were Josh Venia (106, 34-5), Rosendo Beltran (120, 31-9), Nate Hagan (132, 38-10), Richard Jackson (145, 32-11), and Lucas Beauch (160, 32-9).
Guerra believes Central’s trip earlier this season to the Division II state duals championshps has plenty to do the individuals advancing this time.
“Wrestling against Graham — one of the best teams in the country — and winning seven matches against them definitely helped the confidence of the guys and kind of solidified to them they were as good as anyone,” Guerra said.
The Irish lost to Graham 42-25 in the state semifinals.
“I’m not a person big on expectations,” Guerra said. “As long as they wrestle to their abilities and wrestle the best that they can wrestle, then I’m happy.”
Alex Mossing, a senior, who won the state title at 138 last season, is Central’s top returner.
“I just want to go into every match and dominate,” he said. “I want to win state and give up as few points as possible and just try to dominate all the way through the tournament.”
Venia, a sophomore, is one of the most improved Irish wrestlers. The smallest of the Irish state qualifiers didn’t even crack Central’s starting lineup as a freshman.
Now he’s trying to become a state champion.
“I’m going to try to win, but I think it’s just great to compete at this level,” Venia said.
Fisher, a junior, who is the heaviest Irish wrestler, is also a first-time state qualifier looking to make the most of the experience.
“Four more matches and I’m a state champion,” he said.
Other contenders in D-II include Wauseon’s Aaron Schuette (170, 41-5) and Wade Hodges (132, 45-4) and Napoleon’s Seth Beard (113, 45-2).
Schuette was a state runner-up a year ago at 160, while Hodges placed fourth at 126. Beard, a sophomore, finished second at 106.
Also in Division II, Fostoria’s Luke Leonard (126, 38-7); Oak Harbor’s Rhett Petersen (132, 32-12), Jeremy Balboa (138, 28-12), and Ben Petersen (145, 33-9), and Wauseon’s Tre Campbell (160, 40-10) are also state qualifiers.
Delta, the two-time defending Division III state dual meet champion, is also well-represented at state.
Led by sophomore, Jake Spiess (113), who is 45-0 and was a state champion at 106 last year, the Panthers have 12 state qualifiers.
Delta finished runner-up to Troy Christian in the team scoring at the 2013 individual championships.
“We’re a small community, and wrestling is something we do well,” Delta coach Tony Carrizales said. “We have a great program that we’re proud of.
“We have a great program from biddy to junior high, and a lot of our alumni are coming back to coach them from biddy on up to junior high to high school. Our people in Delta are very passionate about wrestling.”
Other Delta qualifiers are Drew Mattin (106, 46-2), Kyle Keller (120, 49-6), Noah Mattin (126, 40-5), Dustin Marteney (132, 47-6), Jesse Beverly (152, 45-6), Tyler Fahrer (160, 49-1), Todd Miller (170, 43-11), Ryan Patchin (182, 26-3), Mark Francis (195, 28-12), Devon Richards (220, 39-11), and Chance Veller (285, 22-7).
The Panthers have the most D-III qualifiers. Miamisburg Dayton Christian, which Delta defeated 40-26 in the dual meet championship, is second with eight.
Also in D-III, Archbold’s Logan Day (145, 46-7) is a top contender after placing second at state last year at 138. Woodmore’s Evan Ulinski (113, 48-2) was a state runner-up at 106 last season.
Genoa’s Jay Nino (220, 61-2) and Cody Buckner (285, 38-3) and Elmwood’s Jacob Wise (170, 37-1) are among top contenders.
Other qualifiers are Archbold’s Kenny Price (138, 46-11), Lincoln Parsley (152, 45-19), and Travis Jaramillo (220, 45-9); Genoa’s Damian D’Emilio (106, 55-7), Max Reeder (138, 27-3), and Nathan Moore (145, 33-7); Swanton’s J.D. Reisinger (120, 36-12); Liberty-Benton’s Tyler Sarreshteh (120, 29-5); Otsego’s Trent Soto (132, 43-4) and Jordan Hendrix (160, 37-9); Elmwood’s Jacob Wise (170, 37-1); Fremont St. Joseph’s Sean Vasquez (145, 31-9) and Corey Durbin (285, 36-1), and Patrick Henry’s Kent Petersen (195, 25-9).
In Division I, Clay advanced Matt Stencel (182, 37-5), a district champ; Jared Davis (126, 24-7) and Gavin Nelson (138, 38-7), both district runners-up; Richie Screptock (132, 44-9), and Nick Stencel (182, 37-5).
Screptock finished fourth at state last year at 120, while Nick Stencel was fifth at 160.
Perrysburg has eight qualifiers with Mario Guillen (113, 36-5), Moises Guillen (120, 30-7), J.P. Newton (152, 36-3), Dan Waltermeyer (160, 35-8), Rocco Caywood (182, 39-4), Kadin Llewellyn (195, 38-5), Mark Delas (220, 15-6), and Cale Bonner (285, 36-4).
Newton was a district champion, while Llewellyn and Bonner were runners-up.
Other D-I qualifiers are Findlay’s Justin Jolliff (126, 35-8); Springfield’s Ross Lonsway (195, 34-5), and Fremont Ross’ Trey Grine (145, 37-1), a district champ.