The goal of every high school wrestler is to win a state championship, by any means necessary.
Clay junior 132-pounder Richie Screptock didn’t look at his third-place showing at the Division I district tournament as a major setback, he saw it as an opportunity.
“I worked on stuff after districts that I needed to work on for the state tournament,” Screptock said.
Screptock’s attitude after the district tournament paid off last weekend at the state tournament in Columbus, where Screptock captured Clay’s first individual state wrestling championship. He is awarded the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Co-Wrestler of the Year and will receive a plaque from the Oregon business.
|Clay’s 132-pound Division I state champion, Richie Screptock, in control during a match at Ohio State’s Value
City Arena. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.smugmug.com)
"Richie wrestled very well the entire tournament," Clay coach Ralph Cubberly said. "His conditioning and strength throughout the tournament were tremendous. He won all the positioning battles in each area, on his feet, top, and bottom, of every match. All these things and his mental toughness and preparedness combined to lead him to his state championship."
Screptock said he has known “for a few years” that the Eagles had never won a state title, and initially he never thought he could be the one to bring one home for his school.
“Over the years I improved and it started coming to my mind that it could happen,” Screptock said. “It was a huge goal. This is big for me and for the school, that we got that first state title. We’ve gotten close, but haven’t gotten it until now.”
Screptock’s previous state tournament experience no doubt paid off last weekend. He placed fourth at 120 pounds last season and took seventh at 113 in 2012. His finals opponent, Nick Kuissis of Brunwick, was a freshman.
“I didn’t really know too much about him,” Screptock said. “I hadn’t seen him wrestle this year at all. My coaches tried to scout him a little bit. They just told me to wrestle my match. and that’s what I did. Just get him in positions I wanted to and not let him get any takedowns and pretty much work my stuff. The match pretty much went the way I thought it would.”
Screptock’s title helped the Eagles finish fourth in the team standings, with 77 points. Massillon Perry won with 185, followed by Perrysburg (90.5) and Marysville (77.5).
Screptock was on a roll going into the finals. He said his first-round pin of Olentangy Liberty’s Trey Grenier, in 1:54, gave him a lot of confidence.
“I knew starting off with a pin would go a long way to show how deterimined I am to get that title,” Screptock said. “I was a little surprised. I remembered going against the kid earlier in the year, at the Wadsworth Invitational, and I pinned him there as well.”
Screptock beat Jacoby Ward of Cincinnati Moeller, 4-2, in the quarterfinals and then handled Nolan Whitely of Walsh Jesuit, 7-2, in the semifinals. Screptock’s finals opponent, Kiussis, entered the title match with a 32-4 record but trailed 4-0 heading into the third period.
“I started off the third period on top and killed about a minute or so,” Screptock said. “He finally got an escape, but I was able to get him on a shot and took off another 30 seconds. I gave him the takedown after I killed a lot of time. The match ended about 10-15 seconds after that takedown. I was in good position. I didn’t want to take the chance of him getting a quick movement and getting to my back. I just held on until I felt there wasn’t much time for him to do anything.”
Screptock (48-9) boosted his career record to 141-22. He said he gave his coaches “great big hugs” after the final whistle on Saturday.
“You just feel excited because you earned your way through the whole tourament,” he said. “I got that title and you want to share that moment with everyone in the crowd. It was kind of a relief knowing I fought hard and got the title.”
Screptock said he’ll be ready to go for another state title as a senior.
“I feel like the drive is there,” he said. “I’m just going to have to keep working over the summer and touch up on stuff I’m not the best at yet.”
Clay came very close to having two state champions last weekend, but sophomore Matt Stencel lost his 182-pound title match to Perrysburg senior Rocco Caywood by a 7-3 margin. Stencel also had a first-round pin and then earned 10-6 and 7-3 decisions en route to the title match. He finished the season with a 40-6 record.
Seniors Gavin Nelson (138 pounds) and Nick Stencel (160) both finished third for Clay. Senior Jared Davis (24-9), who placed seventh in the state at 106 two years ago, lost both of his matches by decision at 126 pounds.
Nelson (43-8) lost 1-0 in the quarterfinals but fought back to win two decisions to get to the match for third place. He beat Columbus St. Charles junior Tim Rooney, who took fifth at 126 last year, by a 4-3 margin in the finals.
Nick Stencel (44-7), who placed fifth in the state at 160 last year, got pinned in 55 seconds in the quarterfinals by Hudson senior Michael Coleman. Stencel, however, would get his revenge.
After registering two pins and a 12-0 major decision, Stencel met Coleman again in the match for third and walked away with a 6-5 victory. Coleman took fourth in the state at 160 in 2013.