The 80th annual OHSAA state tournament is scheduled to get underway at 3 pm eastern time Thursday with the Division III championship preliminary matches, followed by Division II at 4:10 pm, Division I at 5:40 pm and consolation rounds in all three divisions to follow. The state tournament will conclude Saturday at 10 am with the consolation semifinals as well as third, fifth, and seventh-place matches, followed by the championship matches at 5:30 pm. All matches will be wrestled at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
9) A battle between two state champions in Division III
The 182-weight class in Division III should have a finals match between two athletes who have won three state titles between them. Zach Steiner of Creston Norwayne was successful last year in being crowned a state champion at 170, while James Handwerk of Lutheran West has won state titles at 182 and 170. These grapplers met in the finals of the Garfield Heights District tournament with Steiner walking away the winner, 6-3. They could possibly meet in the finals of the state tournament this weekend.
8) Healthy and ready to become a state champion
An injury last season derailed the goals of Kevin Vough of Elyria and kept him from winning a second consecutive state championship. Nevertheless, this season he has been injury free and more than ready to acquire his second state championship in Columbus. His bracket includes three grapplers that were successful last year in obtaining a medal, even so, he should cruise to the finals and finish his career with four OHSAA state medals and two state championships among his long list of awards.
7) Three nationally ranked wrestlers at 106-pounds in Division I
Three underclassmen who are ranked in the nation will battle their way through the Division I state bracket for the opportunity to be called a state champion. The top bracket will have Fargo national champion Julian Tagg of Brecksville, a Hoover District champion, most likely facing off against Kettering Fairmont District champion Lucas Byrd of Cincinnati LaSalle. The two athletes are 1-1 versus each other. Tagg defeated Bird in the finals of the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament, while Bird defeated Tagg in the Brecksville Holiday tournament. The victor in the match could be facing Mick Burnett of Elyria, a Mentor District champion and Walsh Jesuit Ironman place winner.
6) One more chance to win
Nick Kiussis of Brunswick will get his last opportunity to finally become a state champion this weekend. A three-time state runner-up, Kiussis will want to avoid finishing as the runner-up once again, as there has never been a four-time runner-up at the Ohio state tournament. Nevertheless, the route to becoming a state champion won’t be an easy one as three-time state champion Kyle Lawson of Olentangy Liberty will be waiting for him in the finals.
5) Working for their fourth state medal
Despite many of them not having an individual state championship in their long list of accolades, the following athletes will be aspiring to win their fourth state medal, an arduous task to achieve in the state of Ohio. In Division I, we have Alan Hart of St. Edward (132), Moises Guillen of Perrysburg (138), Dominick Demas of Dublin Coffman (145), Nick Kiussis of Brunswick (160), Kyle Lawson of Olentangy Liberty (160), and Kevin Vough of Elyria at 285. In Division II, Hunter Kosco of Canal Fulton Northwest (126) and Georgio Poullas of Canfield at 160. In Division III, Brady Barnett of Milan Edison (138), Derek Gross of St. Paul (152), Drew Mattin of Delta (126), Greg Quinn of Shadyside (113), and Ben Sullivan of New Paris National Trail at 220.
4) The most anticipated match of the state tournament?
The most anticipated match this weekend could be the second meeting between Kyle Lawson of Olentangy Liberty and Nick Kiussis of Brunswick in Division I at 160. Kiussis defeated Lawson, 5-3, in the finals of the Bill Dies Memorial tournament in the second week of January. Both athletes have advanced to the state finals all throughout their prep careers. Kiussis will be taking his talent to West Virginia next season, while Lawson will be attending the University of Oklahoma.
3) Kyle Lawson and Kaleb Romero in position to become four-time champions
Nationally ranked wrestlers Kyle Lawson of Olentangy Liberty (160) and Kaleb Romero of Mechanicsburg (170) are on the verge of becoming the 29th and 30th four-time state champions in Ohio. Lawson won his first two titles in Division II while competing for Ohio power St. Paris Graham. He has acquired his state titles at 138, 152, and 160. Romero, who has already signed to compete for Ohio State, is a three-time Division III state champion with a scholastic prep record of 186-3.
2) Seventeen consecutive state titles for the Falcons?
Yes, you read it right. The Falcons of St. Paris Graham, a public school, will be attempting to win their 17th straight Division II state championship. With 10 Wilmington District champions and a runner-up, the Falcons should have little trouble claiming another state championship. Mitch Moore (132) and Rocky Jordan (152) were triumphant last season in winning state titles, while Jordan Crace (120), Jeffrey Thomas (126), Joey Sanchez (145), Ryan Thomas (160), Gage Braun (182), Kavan Sarver (195), and Johnny Shafer (220) were state medalists.
1) Can St. Edward win the trifecta?
On paper, the Eagles of St. Edward seem to be the favorites to win their third straight Division I championship and their 31st overall. Nevertheless, St. Edward will be heavily challenged by nationally-ranked teams such as No. 21 Wadsworth, No. 22 Olentangy Liberty, No. 23 Elyria, and No. 33 Brecksville. The Eagles advanced 13 of the possible 14 qualifiers to Columbus and have two returning state champions more than ready to repeat this weekend. These state champions include Bryce Andonian (120) and Allan Hart at 132. All members of the St. Edward squad will need to advance deep in the tournament to help the Eagles win the state championship once again.