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Published: Monday, 2/14/2011

State championship in Swanton wrestler's reach

Lytle holds record of 25-0

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Swanton's Mimmo Lytle celebrates a victory. Swanton's Mimmo Lytle celebrates a victory.
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It happens infrequently, so when Swanton wrestler Mimmo Lytle executes a move in practice to score a routine takedown, he feels as though he achieved something special.

Considering the resumes of his practice partners, Lytle has a right to feel that way.

Each day in the Bulldogs' room, Lytle, the top-ranked heavyweight in Division III, encounters a daunting challenge, be it a former state champion, or maybe even a past national champion. And that's to say nothing of the old man strength those guys have since developed.

So it's easy to see why Lytle feels like he "just won state" when he secures one of those coveted two-point takedowns.

But Lytle's moment to celebrate doesn't last long.

"We don't let them take us down, but we joke and say it's a confidence builder whenever they do," Swanton head coach Greg Hallett said.

Twice a state place winner, Lytle, a junior, hopes to sense a legitimate feeling of winning a state championship next month in Columbus.

Holder of a 25-0 record, Lytle has almost been unchallenged. Twenty of his bouts ended in pin, and Hallett has mandated that Lytle score no fewer than four takedowns before being permitted to work for a pin.

In his yearly Ohio high school wrestling forecast, Brian Brakeman picks Lytle to capture the state title, adding that the 265-pounder is "very big, very strong, and very athletic."

And very blessed, with an unreal group of practice partners, many of them volunteers, all of them upper weights:

  • Dean Taylor, a two-time state champion at Delta, later winning two junior college national championships
  • Adam Sintobin, a state champion at Delta
  • Mark Nagel, twice a state runner-up at Delta
  • Hallett, a state place winner at Swanton
  • Xavier Taylor, twice a state place winner for Swanton
  • Assistant coach Bill Urban, a former University of Toledo wrestler
  • Lytle's teammate Derek Johnson, a 215-pound state qualifier.

"He gets pushed harder in the room than really, anywhere else, just because of the tough alumni that come back in and work with him," Hallett said.

Lytle could be challenged at the district tournament, held at Owens Community College, where he may encounter second-ranked Clint Endicott of Crestview, whom Lytle pinned in last year's district final, and Huron's third-ranked Nino Majoy, whom Lytle beat 8-1 in a match this year that extended into the ultimate tiebreaker.

The score was tied 1-1 after 7 minutes, 30 seconds. Then Lytle went berserk on top, racking up several back points over 30 seconds.

Last month Lytle notched his 100th career win, and last week senior teammate Tom Leahey (160) did the same. Entering the season, only two wrestlers in program history had achieved the feat, but Johnson (98 wins) should become the third to do it this season, on Saturday at the Northwest Ohio Athletic League tournament at Archbold.

Lytle is a solid bet to join Jeff Reiner (1982) and Greg Goad (1983) as Swanton state champions.

He was a serious contender last year, but in a scoreless semifinal bout Lytle was thrown from his feet to his back and pinned.

He responded well, winning two matches in the consolation draw, including a pin of just 12 seconds in the third place final.

The big-picture goal for this year is simple: finish the season unbeaten. Smaller goals include those precious takedowns at practice.

"All of my coaches are really hard, they push me to the limit," Lytle said.

"They're the best coaches ever. Derek is a hard partner too. If it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't be here right now."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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