COLUMBUS — Delta has a deep lineage of gifted freshmen who have passed through its proud wrestling program.
Entering Saturday night’s Division III championships, the four-time state champion Panthers have never had one win a title. And never, coach Anthony Carrizales is certain, has the school had a new face as bold as Jake Spiess.
Before the season, Carrizales asks each of his wrestlers their goals for the season. Spiess’ wants to become a first four-time state champion.
He is on his way.
Spiess, a two-time junior high state champion, highlighted an uneven day for area wrestlers by capturing the 106-pound title with a 5-1 overtime victory over Woodmore junior Evan Ulinski.
It was the final act of Spiess’ tour-de-force freshman year, though few challenges were stiffer. After a merciless romp into the championship match — he pinned his way through districts and had a 14-second fall Friday — an official called a match-tying stalling penalty on Spiess with 14 seconds left in the third period.
Spiess, though, answered promptly, scoring a takedown with back points early in the overtime period.
"I don’t know what to say," he said. "I can’t even explain it. It’s such a great feeling. All the hard work I put in paid off."
As for his ambition to become the area’s first four-time champion, Spiess let slip a rare smile.
"There’s a lot of hard work to come, and I’ll put in as much as I can," he said. "We’ll see what happens."
The Panthers’ hopes for a team title, meanwhile, represented Northwest Ohio’s close-but-not-quite night. Spiess was the area’s only Division III champion while Delta, which won the state’s inaugural dual tournament, placed second behind Troy Christian (95.5 points). Delta finished with 82.5 points.
The Panthers had five wrestlers place among the top eight, including senior runner-up Jared Mattin (39-8), who fell 11-5 to Beachwood’s Ryan Harris in the 160-pound title bout.
"It shows our program is moving in the right direction," Carrizales said. "With the incoming young talent we have and the young talent we have on the team this year that’s going to be a year older and better, I’m looking forward to next year. I think we move up another spot and we just go ahead and get that gold trophy."
Ulinski, who placed fourth last season and closed this year 44-5, was one of four area finalists who fell just short. Archbold junior Logan Day (51-2), Fostoria senior Tony Reynolds (41-7), and North Baltimore senior Dalton Ishmael (45-2) also endured season-ending heartbreak.
A year after missing states entirely, Day fell 3-2 to undefeated Atwater Waterloo senior J.J. Diven. The wrestlers traded takedowns in the first two periods before Diven pushed ahead with a late escape.
"I can’t imagine what the kid’s feeling right now, to be that close and to have it slip out right there at the end," Archbold coach Brian Becher said of Day. "But knowing Logan, it’s going to drive him to do even more this offseason. He’s come so far, and he’ll be jumping to another level. Next year, I don’t even think it will be close."
Reynolds dropped a 3-2 decision to Rootstown’s Travis Linton (44-3) at 170 pounds. The senior, who placed sixth last year, rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a final-period reversal but could not move Linton off his stomach in the final seconds.
"I tried to turn him in the last couple of seconds, but he wasn’t doing much," Reynolds said.
Ishmael fell 6-4 in overtime to Northmor’s Tyler Beck at 195 pounds. Ishmael, who finished third last season, led 4-2 in the third period.
Beck tied the match with 15 seconds left on a takedown that sent him tumbling off the raised stage, then scored the winning takedown with 23 seconds remaining in overtime.
In earlier consolation matches, defending state runner-up Tyler Fahrer finished third at 145 pounds, Kyle Keller placed fourth at 120 and Dustin Marteney took eighth at 126.
Fremont St. Joseph's Corey Durbin placed fourth at 220 pounds, Van Buren's Chance Sonnenberg was fifth at 160, Liberty Center's Jimmy Spieth finished seventh at 170.
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.