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COLUMBUS - The state title was right there, just on the tips of Dave Pickerel's fingers.
The senior was so close to becoming just the second state champion in Central Catholic's long wrestling history as he fought in the 215-pound title bout of the Division II state wrestling tournament.
Then the title was snatched right out of his hands.
A controversial official's decision in overtime gave Medina Highland's Tyler Houska a 3-2 victory over Pickerel in the championship match.
In overtime, with the match tied 1-1, Pickerel was on top of Houska, who was moving toward the edge of the mat. As the referee blew his whistle to stop the action with just 11 seconds left, he awarded Houska a penalty point, which drew loud booing from the crowd at the Schottenstein Center.
Afterwards the Irish senior, who finished the season 28-6, was disconsolate in the tunnel leading from the mats.
"I feel upset, disappointed," Pickerel said. "He said I was pushing him out of bounds, which wasn't true. I just was trying to keep a hold on him, maybe grab a leg."
Trailing by a point, Pickerel released Houska, then gained a stalling point but wasn't able to make up the deficit.
Three other Central Catholic wrestlers earned All-Ohio honors by finishing in the top eight in their respective weight classes. Juniors Dan Cook (119) and Vincenzo Cardone (285) both pinned in their final state match to place sixth, with Cook ending his junior year with a 35-12 record, while Cardone was 34-8.
Jake Henderson earned a 3-2 decision over Eastwood's Ashton Brown at 189 to give Henderson (38-7) fifth and Brown (54-9) sixth.
As a result, the Irish placed fourth with 47 points, the best finish since the 1958 team placed third.
Oak Harbor was fifth with 46 points thanks in part to Drew Stone, whose championship bout with Johnni DiJulius of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit at 112 was a defensive struggle, one that Stone lost by a 1-0 count.
"I knew we both were going to keep it close," Stone said. "When it was 0-0 after one [period], I was fine with that because I'm a third-period wrestler.
"He got out in the second to make it 1-0, and I just needed to get out in the third to send it to overtime. But he just held on."
Stone, who was in the down position to begin the third period, came close to several escapes and at one point seemed poised to post a reversal. But DiJulius, the Brakeman Report favorite to win the title, never gave up the point Stone needed to tie the bout.
Wauseon and Oak Harbor both had three place-winners. Besides Stone, the Rockets saw Ian Miller place third at 135, with his injury default victory over Matt Hefner of Lima Bath giving him a 45-3 record for his sophomore year. And junior Mike Mallernee placed eighth at 160, losing 7-4 to Reno Bernardo of Columbus DeSales to finish 36-11.
For the Indians, seniors Carson Frey (130) and Michael Perez (119) placed seventh and eighth, respectively. Frey pinned Evan Storts of Springfield Shawnee to finish 43-7, while Perez dropped a 10-4 decision to Sheldon Kegley of St. Paris Graham to close the books on a 45-8 season.
And at 171, junior Nick McCall was defeated by Napoleon's Jason Brown 10-6, giving Brown (44-6) seventh and McCall (34-17) eighth.
Maumee and Defiance both had a pair of place-winners. The Panthers saw seniors Mikkal Johnson and Michael Graves both earn fifth place; Johnson's 7-4 victory over Selo Ramjattan of Greenville at 145 gave him a final record of 36-5, while Graves pinned Rob Eddy of Cadiz Harrison Central in 1:59 at 152 to finish 22-5.
For the Bulldogs, B.J. Miller (112) and Terry Wagenhauser (145) both took seventh in their respective weight classes.
St. Paris Graham broke the state tournament record for most team points with 282 to win the Division II title for the ninth straight year.
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