Swanton's Mimmo Lytle celebrates after pinning Crestview's Clint Endicott in the 285-pound Division III district final. Lytle is among three Swanton teammates to advance to the state tourney. Cardinal Stritch's Kyle Gladieux takes down Edison's Dylan Howard in the 160-pound district final. Gladieux is 40-1 this season.
When Derek Johnson's face turns red and his nostrils begin to flicker, his training partner senses it's time to leave the area.
"If he gets mad, I stay away from him," Mimmo Lytle said.
With that in mind, Johnson and Lytle were inseparable last night at Owens Community College, as the Swanton big men celebrated winning Division III district wrestling championships.
Both of their seasons will extend to this week's state tournament, held Thursday through Saturday on the campus of Ohio State. Johnson captured the 215-pound crown, and Lytle immediately followed with a pin in the 285-pound final.
Swanton's Derek Johnson hangs on to beat Liberty Center's Zane Crall to claim the 215-pound district crown.
"We go hard every day," Johnson said of his practice situation with Lytle. "Everything we do, we do like it's state, like we want to win a state title."
The top four finishers in each weight class of the two-day tournament, which includes Johnson's and Lytle's teammate Tom Leahey (fourth at 160), advance to the state meet.
Elmwood qualified five wrestlers, including champion Nick Goebel, and finished second in the team standings with 116.5 points.
Monroeville, which boasts a lineup that includes four wrestlers on pace to each win four career state titles, won the tournament with 161.5 points.
Cardinal Stritch's Kyle Gladieux takes down Edison's Dylan Howard in the 160-pound district final. Gladieux is 40-1 this season.
Edison (106.5) nipped Crestview (104) for third. Finishing fifth through eighth in the team race were Liberty Center (92), Montpelier (78.5), Archbold (73.5), and Swanton (65.5).
Aside from Johnson and Lytle, champions from the area were Elmwood's Goebel (112), Patrick Henry's Alex Lopez (130), Montpelier's Luke Boehm (145), and Cardinal Stritch's Kyle Gladieux (160).
Goebel will be joined in Columbus by teammates Dexter Lee (second at 103), Westley Lee (third at 125), Mitchell Emmitt (third at 130), and Tyler Baer (second at 145). Two other teammates - Nic Hernandez (135) and Jake Baker (189) - each lost two-point matches that had they won would have resulted in state qualification.
"Great weekend," Westley Lee said. "I thought it was really good."
Goebel used a takedown late in the first period to build a 2-0 advantage that he'd ultimately extend to a 5-1 decision over Ayersville's Cade Mansfield.
"It was pretty important because if I go into the second period with the lead I'm confident I'll win the match," said Goebel, a defending state champion who, like Mansfield, entered the match with one loss.
Lopez, ranked second in the state, remained unbeaten with a 3-2 win over third-ranked Kyle Burns of Edison. Lopez escaped 30 seconds into the third period to go ahead by one point and wrestled conservatively from there on.
A state runner-up a year ago, Lopez hopes to improve his placement now that he's no longer the same weight as Monroeville's Logan Stieber, who is widely considered the best overall high school wrestler in the country.
Lopez says he could have made 125 pounds, but since he was handled 16-1 by Stieber in last year's state final, such a move was senseless.
"I told my dad [PH head coach Victor Lopez] I want to find the best spot to win a title, and 130 is where it's at," Lopez said.
As it goes, Stieber becomes Westley Lee's problem. Although ranked second in the state, Lee was pinned in the first period by Stieber in yesterday's semifinal round. Lee rebounded with a pair of wins, including a 4-0 decision over Delta's Chris Delaney in the consolation final.
"I'm glad I got third so I'm on the other [side of the bracket at state] than [Stieber]," Lee said. "Maybe I can make it to the finals against him - that would be sweet."
Boehm upped his record to 48-5 with a 5-2 win over Elmwood's Baer.
Boehm saw his 2-0 lead dissipate in the second period when he allowed two near fall points, but he quickly regained control with a reversal to go up 4-2.
A state alternate last year as a junior, Boehm said his major goal this time around was to simply advance to Columbus. "I'm feeling really good," he said. "This is the best I've wrestled in my entire high school career. I think I've built up a very strong offense."
Gladieux (40-1) decimated the 160-pound field, registering early-round pins in times of :58, :33, 3:15, and then capping the weekend with a fall in 1:11 over Edison's Dylan Howard.
"I work so hard," Gladieux said. "There's so much behind the scenes stuff these people don't know about. It's not just natural."
In the final two bouts of the tournament, Johnson stopped Liberty Center's Zane Krall, 4-1, and Lytle pinned Crestview's Clint Endicott in 2:46.
Krall's story is an amazing one.
Just a freshman, he spent all season at 189 pounds only to lose a wrestle off the week before sectionals to teammate Allen Sharp, which bumped him to 215.
Krall weighed in Friday at a puny 190 pounds but prevailed in the quarterfinals in three overtimes before winning in yesterday's semifinal on a last-second takedown.
"I got a pretty good draw so I knew there was a chance to get to the semis, or the finals," Krall said. "I just wrestled hard and saw what happened."
Other area state qualifiers are: Archbold's Jordan Cowell (second at 135), Liberty Center's Jake Elling (second at 152), Luke Kern (fourth at 119) and Zach Niner (third at 145), Gibsonburg's Damen Escobedo (fourth at 135), Delta's Tyler Yant (fourth at 140), Patrick Henry's Xavier Dye (second at 171), Lake's Brandon Tantari (second at 189), Montpelier's D.J. Ferguson (fourth at 112) and Lakota's Stephen Klotz (fourth at 215).
Contact Ryan Autullo at:firstname.lastname@example.org