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Published: Sunday, 3/7/2010

Oak Harbor's Miller state wrestling champ

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - Jake Henderson spent his senior season wrestling on a high wire.

Saturday night, in the 215-pound state Division II title match, he finally fell.

The Central Catholic senior wrestled close, low-scoring matches this season - and won all 49 of them. But Henderson suffered a 3-2 sudden-death overtime loss to Wapakoneta's Logan Erb in the championship match at the Schottenstein Center.

Oak Harbor junior Ian Miller was the area's lone champion, capturing the title at 145 pounds.

"It finally caught up with me," Henderson said after the match. "The one match I happen to lose this year happens in the finals."

After a scoreless first period, Erb chose down to begin the second and escaped early to take a 1-0 lead.

Henderson escaped in the third period to tie the match, sending it to overtime. After both wrestlers earned escapes in the first two overtime periods to tie the match at 2-2, Erb chose down in the sudden-death period and escaped to dash Henderson's state title dreams.

"I just tried to stop him from standing up," Henderson said of Erb's escape. "I grabbed the ankle, pushed forward, tried to keep pressure on him. I tried everything I could. It just didn't work."

Henderson's teammate, 285-pounder Vincenzo Cardone, lost his championship match to Drew Carpenter of Thornville Sheridan by a 4-1 decision.

Cardone escaped early in the second period, then gave up a stalling point for a 1-1 tie, then allowed an escape early in the third to fall behind 2-1. A last-ditch attempt by the Irish senior to score resulted in a takedown by Carpenter that sealed the match.

"I would do something, but he would get out of it," said Cardone, who finished 17-4. "I thought I wrestled good and tough in this tournament. But that final match came down to the stalling call."

Miller claimed the 145 title with a surprisingly easy 19-4 technical fall over Dylan Ice of Lisbon Beaver Local.

Miller got a takedown just 10 seconds into the match, then used another takedown with back points 30 seconds later to build an early 7-1 lead.

"Right off the bat [Ice] started shooting with his elbows out, and I took advantage of that," Miller said. "After I got my first back points, I felt really comfortable so I kept kicking him out and taking him down."

Two more Miller takedowns made the score 11-3 after one period, and an escape followed by a takedown-near fall combination at 1:30 set the stage for the technical fall that brought his season's record to 41-1.

"I was looking at the scoreboard and I thought, 'That's a lot of points,'" he said. "I was just about to kick him [loose] again when they whistled the tech. I was too busy [wrestling] to do the math."

The Rockets were less fortunate in their two other championship matches. At 125, Oak Harbor's Drew Stone got a championship rematch with Johnni DiJulius of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, who beat Stone 1-0 in last year's 119 title match.

In this year's contest DiJulius scored four points in the first 35 seconds.

"I knew he had a barrel roll - that's how he took me down and got back points - but I didn't do a good job of defending it in the beginning," Stone said. "He rode me all of last year; every time I got up he would grab my ankle.

"It was basically the same match of last year, only with four points at the beginning."

DiJulius added a point on a second-period escape, and Stone got a point when DiJulius was called for stalling as the match ended 5-1, dropping Stone's final record to 39-4.

And at 152 Konner Witt of Oak Harbor lost a 5-2 match to three-time state champ Harrison Hightower of Hunting Valley University School. A long scramble late in the first period resulted in a takedown by Hightower, and a reversal early in the second seemed to seal Witt's fate.

"He kept diving at my legs, and then once he took me down he kept tying me up into stalemates that just burned off time," said Witt, who finished 48-4. "I thought I had a cradle on him but I didn't get the call, but you can't really change things like that."

This area's championship quintet were joined by six other wrestlers who earned All-Ohio honors.

Central's Tony Martin finished fourth at 152, as did Seth Hoffman of Eastwood at 160. Martin's teammate, Dan Cook, placed eighth at 135.

Three area wrestlers took sixth: Jake Cramer of Oak Harbor at 140, Wauseon's Nick McCall at 17,1 and Cody Bloom of Napoleon at 215.

St. Paris Graham, the top-ranked team in the country, easily won its 10th consecutive state title with six champions and 223 points. Oak Harbor finished second at 78.5, and Central was fourth with 55.

"This team had a high goal all year - to finish second - and to do that against the best team in the country, well, that's our state championship," Oak Harbor coach George Bergman said.



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