The Press Newspaper
Clay and Genoa qualified five wrestlers each for the 77th Ohio High School State Wrestling Tournament in Columbus over the weekend.
Clay wrestlers at the Division I state meet were senior Jared Davis (24-7) at 126 pounds, junior Richie Screptock (44-9) at 132, senior Gavin Nelson (38-7) at 138, senior Nick Stencel (39-6) at 160, and sophomore Matt Stencel (37-5) at 182. Davis was seventh at 106 pounds in 2012, Screptock fourth at 120 last year and seventh at 113 two years ago, and Nick Stencel was fifth at 160 last year.
Prep wrestling expert Brian Brakemen recognized Perrysburg and Clay’s potential at state in his preview, closing his D-I analysis with, “Perrysburg is a team that cannot be overlooked after their brilliant wrestling at Cleveland State. They qualified eight, including state placers Cale Bonner (285), J. P. Newton (152) and Mario Guillen (113) along with the powerful Rocco Caywood. In other years Marysville and Oregon Clay might be contenders as they both qualified five very fine wrestlers.”
In D-II, four local wrestlers qualified for state, including three from Oak Harbor and one from Central Catholic.
From Oak Harbor are sophomore Rhett Petersen (32-12) at 132, junior Jeremy Balboa (28-12) at 138 and junior Ben Petersen (33-9) at 145.
The local wrestler from Central Catholic is junior Nate Hagan (38-10), who placed seventh at 120 in 2012 and will compete with Rhett Petersen in the 132 pound class this year.
“Another team that peaked in district competition is the powerful squad from Toledo Central Catholic,” wrote Brakemen. “Qualifying nine wrestlers including seven finalists, they are led by state champion Alex Mossing (152) and state placer Nate Hagan (132).”
Nine Genoa wrestlers competed at the Northwest D-III district tournament at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center, and the five who advanced to the state tournament are the most in school history.
“The Comets did so by battling through the consolation bracket as they went an incredible five for five in the consolation semifinal round,” Genoa coach Robert Bergman wrote in an email to The Press.
Junior Jay Nino and sophomore Damian Demilio pinned down third place honors while seniors Max Reeder, Nathan Moore and Cody Buckner finished fourth. As a team, Genoa finished third for the second consecutive year by outdistancing Archbold by a half point in the 55-team field. The mark ties last year’s finish as the program’s highest in school history.
D’Emilio (55-7) wrestled at state in the 106 pound class, Reeder (27-3) at 138, Moore (33-7) at 145, Nino (61-2) at 220, and Buckner (38-3) at 285.
Also in D-III is district champion Devon Dunbar (36-8), a junior from Northwood who competes at 126, and Woodmore senior Evan Ulinski (48-2), who is qualifying for the third time and considered by Brakemen as a top contender in a loaded weight division, 113.
Ulinski was state runner-up last year at 106 and fourth at 106 two years ago. Last year, he closed with a 49-4 record and lost to Delta wrestler Jake Spiess in the state final.
“Obviously, I wanted to win the whole thing, but it was a great experience,” Ulinski told The Press,
Spiess also moved up to 113 this year and Ulinski likely would have had to defeat him to win a state championship.
“Perhaps the wrestler with the most difficult path to a second title in Division III is Jake Spiess. Lurking with him in the top half of the bracket is his state finals opponent from last year, Evan Ulinski, who he defeated in overtime, while in the other half of the bracket is three-time placer and state runner-up Christian Clary (Dayton Christian),” Brakeman stated.
Ulinski comes from a wrestling family. His father, Steve, is an assistant coach with the Wildcats, and his brother, Jan, was on the University of Findlay wrestling team. Jan, who attended Eastwood, was a two-time state qualifier who finished seventh at 119 pounds in D-II in 2006.
This year’s state meet again featured 672 wrestlers from 309 high schools who competed in 42 weight classes — a far cry from the 20 schools that sent at least one wrestler to the inaugural tournament in 1938 when team scores were not calculated and 10 weight classes were utilized.