COLUMBUS -- Signature moves were on display Saturday evening at the Division III state wrestling finals.
A crowd of about 16,000 at Value City Arena saw Delta's Luke Kern rally from behind with his double under hook series, and Jordan Cowell prevail on the strength of a move known around Archbold as the "Cowell Dump." It doesn't matter that Swanton's Mimmo Lytle doesn't have a go-to move. He overpowered his opponent to capture his second state title.
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Together, the three of them brought three state titles to the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
Kern's teammate, Tyler Fahrer, dropped a 5-4 bout at 145 pounds in the first of what he hopes is multiple state title appearances.
Aided by fifth-place finishers Kyle Keller (106) and Jared Mattin (152), Delta finished third in Division III with 74 points. The Panthers trailed Troy Christian by 3.5 points entering the evening but lost their foothold when the Eagles crowned their second champion at 182 pounds. Apple Creek Waynedale won the title with 104 points.
Lytle (43-1) beat Huron's Nino Majoy for the fifth time at 285 pounds, this time 1-0, and was later named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in D-III. Lytle's excellent strength came into play in the third period when he rode Majoy out the entire two minutes.
The familiarity between the foes caused the low scoring output. As Lytle put it, the match featured "two big bodies colliding, not doing anything."
Lytle, who was 83-1 over his final two seasons, is Swanton's first two-time state champion.
"It feels a lot different," than the first one, Lytle said. "For me I'm the first person from Swanton to be a two-time champ. I was just praying I'd reach that goal and I did."
Of the 42 state championship matches across all divisions, Kern's at 138 pounds was perhaps the most exciting. Trailing by one point, he locked up two under hooks and executed an inside trip, sending Waynedale's Zane Nelson to his back. Kern used the same set up in the second period to score a takedown and go ahead 5-4.
"It feels awesome. It's everything I've worked for," Kern (44-1) said. "All the hard work I put in throughout the summer -- lifting, every practice in the morning, every practice, and every day after practice -- it's all worth it."
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Cowell (64-2) joins his father, John, in winning a state title. He hit the Cowell Dump, which he describes as a lazy version of a fireman's carry, to score four points en route to a 7-4 win over Waynedale's Brenden Stanley at 152 pounds.
Cowell finishes with 237 wins, tops in Ohio history.
"Growing up, you always want to be a state champ," he said. "[It's] the one thing you always have as a dream, and now I have it."
Fahrer, a sophomore, has two more chances to achieve that dream. He tried but never finalized a comeback from a 4-0 deficit against Troy Christian's Jordan Marshall. Fahrer's takedown with 10 seconds wasn't enough.
"If I would have wrestled like I did at the end I think I would have got it," Fahrer said. "I came out a little timid, this being my first time being on a big stage. I was flat."
The lone area D-III wrestler to finish third was North Baltimore's Dalton Ishmael (195). Ishmael bounced back from what he described as a "pitiful" performance in the semifinals, pinning both of his opponents to finish his junior season 50-1.
"I was just really disappointed it ended up that way, but I came back as hard as I could and wrestled to my potential," Ishmael said.
Ishmael had hoped to become North Baltimore's first wrestling champion. He'll get another crack at it next year.
"One loss [this year], and I hope next year no losses," he said.
Delta's Keller (45-8) won his fifth-place bout with a 24-second pin of Nelsonville-York's Dakota Mays. Moments later, Mattin (24-7) crushed Massillon Tuslaw's D.J. Blair, 15-2.
Finishing fourth were Woodmore's Evan Ulinski (106) and Liberty Center's Zach Niner (132).
Genoa's Jake Sheehy (182) was fifth, and four grapplers -- Elmwood's Dexter Lee (113), Lakota's Ben Timmons (126), Fostoria's Tony Reynolds (170), and Liberty Center's Justin Gillen (285) -- finished sixth.
Archbold's Austin Ripke (160) and Elmwood's Jake Baker (220) took seventh, while Archbold's Drew Coffey (106) and Elmwood's Dustin Ferguson (120) were eighth.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.