It will be a case of déjà vu for three area schools at Saturday’s state wrestling dual team tournament.
In the first Ohio High School Athletic Association-sanctioned state dual team tourney last season, the three area teams that reached St. John Arena in Columbus were the Three Rivers Athletic Conference champion and runner-up, Clay (Division I) and Central Catholic (D-II), and Northwest Ohio Athletic League champion Delta (D-III).
Flash forward one year, and all three teams are back in their respective eight-team divisional brackets.
The likelihood is that each team could experience the same outcome.
In Division III, Delta easily won the state championship last year, beating LaGrange Keystone 59-13 in the quarterfinals, Versailles 45-24 in the semifinals, and Massillon Tuslaw 52-17 in the final.
Panthers coach Anthony Carrizales and his team seem poised to repeat, entering as the No. 1 seed.
“When they introduced this [state team duals] last year I wasn’t sure how good it was going to be for Ohio wrestling,” Carrizales said. “Obviously when you win, it’s fun, and you get a little biased. But I really think this is good for Ohio wrestling.
“It gives the kids on the fringe, who may never have a chance to get to the individual state tournament, a chance to wrestle in the big show. It definitely gives those kids a spark.”
Delta opens with a quarterfinal against No. 8 seed Blanchester Saturday at 11 a.m. If the Panthers prevail, they would face the Rootstown/Massillon Tuslaw winner in a 3:30 p.m. semifinal. The most likely team to advance to the D-III final from the lower bracket is No. 2 seed Dayton Christian.
Championship matches in all three divisions are at 7:30 p.m.
In Division I, Clay, the No. 5 seed, has an 11 a.m. quarterfinal against No. 4 seed Lakewood St. Edward, the most storied wrestling program in Ohio history.
St. Ed, which won the first dual tourney last year, has also won 28 team titles at the state individual tournament.
Winning a second straight regional was a big achievement, but is having to face powerhouse St. Ed in the state quarterfinals a disappointing draw for the Eagles?
“Nope,” said Clay coach Ralph Cubberly. “We want to wrestle those guys for two reasons. First, we have to wrestle them in our district, so we want to see how it goes prior to the district tournament for the individual state. Secondly, to be honest, the only way you can beat a team like that is to wrestle them.
“So, heck with being afraid of them. You can’t beat them if you don’t wrestle them.”
Last year Clay lost its quarterfinal 40-19 to Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
In Division II, Central, a No. 4 seed, will face Lexington in a quarterfinal for the second straight year. Last year the Irish defeated Lexington 37-30 before falling 43-18 in the semifinals to the eventual champion St. Paris Graham.
“If these guys go out and wrestle like they’re capable of wrestling, I don’t see any reason we can’t win,” Central coach Tony Guerra said of his Irish facing Lexington again. “It’s a great accomplishment for the guys getting here.
“The state duals are awesome in general. It’s great for the fans, but it’s also good for those guys who may never make to the state tournament individually.”
Should Central top Lexington in a 11 a.m. quarterfinal, it would most likely once again have a semifinal against Graham, which has won 15 Division II individual state tournaments, including the last 13 in a row.
HANDOUT. NOT BLADE PHOTO. Enlarge
Advancing to the D-II final will be a tall order for Central.
“[Graham] is the best team in the state,” Guerra said. “But it’s wrestling. Anything can happen in this sport. We’re going to go down there, hopefully take care of business in the first dual, and if do what we should do there, we have nothing to lose going into that next one.”
Delta is led on the mat by seniors Tyler Fahrer (160 pounds) and Kyle Keller (120), sophomores Jake Spiess (113) and Dustin Marteney (132), and freshman Drew Mattin (106). Spiess was the D-III 106-pound individual state champion in 2013.
Clay is led by seniors Jared Davis (126), Gavin Nelson (138), Nick Stencel (160), and Antonio Zapata (285), junior Richie Screptock (132), and sophomore Matt Stencel (182). Screptock placed fourth in the D-I individual state tourney last year.
Central is led by senior Alex Mossing (152), juniors Nate Hagan (132), Josh Mossing (138), and Lucas Beauch (160), and sophomore Josh Venia (106). Alex Mossing won the 138-pound D-II individual state championship a year ago.
DeStazio reaches 200 wins
Beating first-place Elmwood 74-56 at home last Saturday was a big win in the Northern Buckeye Conference for the Genoa girls basketball team.
It was also part of a milestone — career win No. 200 for coach Mike DeStazio, who is in his fourth season with the Comets.
DeStazio posted a 149-59 record in his nine seasons at Woodmore (1994-2003), and with another win Monday, he’s 52-31 at Genoa for a 201-90 overall mark.
“I’m pretty humble about that,” DeStazio said, “because I’ve always surrounded myself with good coaches, like Doug Perkins, who’s been with me the whole way, and I’ve always had great players.
“I never thought I’d be around long enough to get 200 wins. It’s a great honor, but I’m just a small piece of it. The honor comes from the kids telling me that I’ve meant something in their lives.”
DeStazio, 59, retired from teaching in 2004 and now labels himself “a full-time coach.” He was overwhelmed by the response to his achievement.
“I got a whole bunch of text messages and Facebook messages from former players, even some kids I coached in junior high,” DeStazio said. “Some of my former Woodmore players even came to the game. I just hope I mean more to these kids than just wins and losses.”
NHC division races
With the Northwest Hockey Conference schedule winding to an end in the next 16 days, the three title pictures are getting clearer.
At the NHC’s top level, the Red Division, the title chase has been reduced to rivals St. John’s Jesuit and St. Francis de Sales, who will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter.
St. John’s is 4-1-1 (nine points) with two division games remaining, while the Feb. 14 contest is the finale for the rival Knights, who are 4-3-0 (eight points). St. Francis would need to beat St. John’s and have the Titans lose or tie their final division game at Findlay the following night to gain a championship or title share.
In the White Division’s National Conference, Southview and Perrysburg are tied for first place with matching 9-1-0 records (18 points) with three games remaining.
In the White Division’s American Conference, Maumee (8-1-0, 16 points) and Whitmer (7-4-0, 14 points) rank first and second. Maumee has five division games remaining, while Whitmer has three left.
The White Division will also hold a postseason playoff, combining teams from each conference. That will be held after regular-season play concludes Feb. 22, and before the state tournament begins.