A number of area wrestlers performed admirably and found success on the way to the podium at the 2019 Ohio State High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University. Here are a few of those who made their mark.
Golden Bears go 2-for-3 in placing All-Ohioans
The Waynedale Golden Bears have had a large contingency of wrestlers representing the Apple Creek area over the past number of years, so to have three wrestlers there is a bit unusual for Louis Stanley’s crew.
However, the Golden Bears made plenty of noise at the Div. III state wrestling meet in Columbus by sending two of the three participants on to the podium, where they were tabbed All-Ohioans.
Seth Unkefer took home an eighth-place finish while Max Lemon fought his way to a sixth-place spot. Micah Hershberger just missed a spot.
The first to secure a spot on the podium was Seth Unkefer (30-16), who had to do things the hard way. Unkefer lost his opening match, meaning he would have to battle his way back through the consolation bracket from the get-go.
The 120-pounder was up to the challenge. After getting manhandled 17-2 in a major decision to open the tournament, Unkefer recorded a win by fall in 2:07 over Columbus Bishop Ready’s Aiden Aiello. He then carved out a 6-2 decision win over Draven Hubley of Cardington-Lincoln that guaranteed him a spot on the podium. His loss to Drake Carmen in a fall at 1:40 sent him into the match for seventh place, where he dropped an 8-1 decision to Liberty Center’s Dylan Matthews.
At 260 pounds, Lemon didn’t’ waste any time finding his way to the podium. The senior (38-12) made his final year of wrestling count by capturing wins in his first two matches. He downed Bellaire’s Cody Albaugh 3-2, then clobbered Seth Henderson of Miami Valley Christian Academy in a fall win at 2:31.
“It’s an amazing feeling to think that I will be standing on the podium at state,” said Unkefer, a junior. “There was a point late in the match for podium that I knew I had it, and that feeling is pretty special, especially after losing my first match.”
Lemon wasn’t as successful in his semifinal bout with eventual champion James Limongi of Genoa Area. He fell in decision by a 7-1 count there, then dropped a pair of losses in the consys to finish up in sixth place.
“Both of those guys just showed gritty efforts all weekend long, and they just showed a lot of heart,” Stanley said. “Both of those guys really kind of came into their own over the final month of the season, which is exactly what you want. I know they aren’t satisfied because you always want more, but we are thankful for the fact that they earned All-Ohio status.”
Hershberger (40-7) dropped his opener 7-4 before recovering to win a match in the consys with a 7-1 decision over Kameron Hughes of Martins Ferry. He then fell out of contention by losing to Devin Oligee of Madison by fall at 2:04.
“The key when you get here is to win that first match,” Stanley said of the state experience. “Micah isn’t happy with the way he wrestled here, but he did win a match, and the experience is a good one. He is going to train like a madman and hopefully podium next year.”
So we meet again
A pair of very familiar faces squared off for the right to claim a spot on the podium in Div. II when Tyler Masters of West Holmes knocked heads with Jarrett Warrington of Claymont. Masters, a junior, defeated the senior, Warrington, in districts 3-0 in the battle for third place, but on the big stage the Knights junior took command early and never let off the gas, driving home a 9-0 major decision that sent him to the podium.
“Knowing someone that well has its advantages and disadvantages, but he is a really great competitor,” Masters said of Warrington. “I came into this match with a lot of confidence and had faith in myself that I would come here and compete. Getting the early takedown gave me a lot of confidence so I kept pushing and pushing.”
That wasn’t enough for Masters. He patiently topped highly rated Jason Mayes of Jefferson Area 3-2 to advance another step, then faced a rugged opponent in Logan Ours of Beaver Local, a wrestler regarded by many as one of the top threats in the 120-pound weight class. Masters once again showed his patience and cunning ability to read and react on the mat and once again carved out a 3-2 victory that sent him into the match for third place.
There he faced Josh Dunn of Goshen, who entered the state tournament with one loss on the season. Masters fell 2-0, but his hope of improving on last year’s sixth-place finish was accomplished.
For four years Indian Valley senior wrestler Adam Lenhoff has been toying with the notion that a spot on the podium and All-Ohio status might come his way. On Friday, March 8 he didn’t have to wonder about that possibility any more.
After getting dumped into the consys in the quarterfinals by Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Jacob Potok in a disheartening 4-2 loss that was tight throughout, Lenhoff didn’t mope around and feel sorry for himself. He went right back to work and faced off with Jesse Wright of Tontagony Otsego for a spot on the All-Ohio podium for Div. II 145-pounders. He built a comfortable 7-2 lead. With 20 seconds left, Lenhoff simply allowed Wright to take him down to the mat with a safety takedown. Knowing the two points would still give him a comfortable lead, Lenhoff rode out the final 20 seconds face-down on the mat and loving it.
“Finally,” Lenhoff said with a huge sigh of relief following his match that sent him to the podium. “It’s about time. I have been working toward this moment for four years now, and I have put in a ton of really hard work. It’s nice to see it finally pay off.”
This marked Lenhoff’s third straight state appearance. In each of his prior attempts to become an All-Ohioan, he won one match at state but fell short of the goal. This time around, his final time, he made it count.
“The last two times here I just didn’t have it when it really mattered the most,” Lenhoff said. “This is a huge relief to finally get this weight off my shoulders.”
Lenhoff said when he realized there were just 20 seconds left between the moment and realizing a dream come true, he felt creating his own takedown was the safest way to ensure nothing crazy happened in those final 20 seconds.
“Up 7-2, the only way I can lose is if I give up big points, so I felt the safest thing was to control things by letting myself get taken down,” Lenhoff said. “So I hunkered down and didn’t give up anything big, and now it’s my dream come true.”
Lenhoff may have lost his next match in the consys before falling 5-4 to Jordan Barnett of Sheridan in the match for seventh place, but it couldn’t erase the fact that he was now one of the elite with the All-Ohio moniker connected to his name forever more.
A brave new world for three other Indian Valley wrestlers
A trio of Indian Valley Braves joined Lenhoff at state. At 132 pounds, senior Brady O’Connor battled his way to a podium spot and an All-Ohio berth. Like Lenhoff he won his first match by fall before succumbing to eventual runner-up Nick Moore of St. Paris Graham by fall at 0:57.
O’Conner (45-10) then dropped into the consys, where he battled his way into the final eight with a beautiful fall win in 4:46 over Revere’s Cooper Krauth. He then whipped Bowling Green’s August Eschedor 7-1 before falling in the consys semifinals 6-2 in a rough tie-breaker. He then had to settle in at sixth place when he lost to Sandusky Perkkins’ Logan Schoen 2-0.
At 160 pounds, Zach Love scrapped and clawed his way into contention for a podium spot. After winning his opening bout in a tight 8-7 decision, Love (35-15) fell 12-5 to St. Paris Graham’s Isaiah Stickley. Having been bumped into the consys, Love faced Ethan Pappas of Steubenville in an epic battle. Love forged a 5-2 lead with less than 90 seconds to go, but it was tiring. He then saw Pappas tie the score late to send it into sudden death, where Pappas recorded a takedown, meaning Love missed the podium by the slightest of margins.
Braves 170-pounder Jacob Armstrong lost his opening match but took care of Chaminade-Julienne’s David Frederick before bowing out in a 17-10 loss to Carrollton’s Brandon Daniels.
The easiest 9-5 win you’ll ever see
Claymont 220-pounder Kole Aubiel is a seasoned veteran of the mats. Aubiel had qualified for state last year, so this time around was nothing new.
Aubiel marched right on to the podium and garnered a fourth-place finish by winning his first two matches. His first win came by way of a 5-2 win over Adalberto Dega of Defiance. In facing Ethan Depp of Revere in the quarterfinals, Aubiel only won 9-5, but it was perhaps the most commanding 9-5 win on record.
During the match Aubiel seemed to be in total control, taking down Depp four times without much effort and kicking him loose each time, meaning that for every two points Aubiel scored, Depp received one for an escape. Leading late in the match, Aubiel took his time, danced around any confrontation, and knowing the match was well in hand, the one point for Depp because of stalling was of little significance.
Aubiel (35-8) advanced to the semifinals, where he fell in a heartbreaking 6-4 decision to eventual runner-up Max Fausnaugh of Bowling Green. Falling into the consolation semifinals, Aubiel again took care of business, downing Kettering Alter’s Nathaniel Armstrong 8-6 in a sudden victory match. He then advanced to wrestle for third place, where he fell by decision to Norwalk’s Alec Maloney 6-4.
“So close, yet so far” or “My kingdom for a point”
Perhaps Wooster junior Jake Burns will be called “One-Point Man” from here on out.
The 275-pounder waged not one, not two but three one-point matches in his effort to gain a spot on the podium. Unfortunately two of those matches ended up being losses, meaning he ended up one spot away from All-Ohio honors.
Burns won his opening match in a thrilling 7-6 decision over Franklin Heights senior Day-Myrin Jones, who entered the state tournament with just one loss. On the heels of that thriller came an even bigger heart-pounder. In the quarterfinals Burns faced off with Cincinnati Anderson senior Kevin Stone, who had just three losses to his name on the season. The two battled back and forth all match until a third-period escape by Stone put him ahead. Try as he might, Burns was unable to record the takedown he needed and fell into the consys with a 3-2 loss.
With a spot on the podium now at stake, Burns matched wits with athletic Omari Green of Central Crossing. Burns took charge early, and Green came rumbling back and tied the score at 2-2 late. Burns had Green in a good takedown position but was unable to convert, and Green spent the final few seconds relentlessly pursuing the tiring Burns.
In overtime Green kept coming. Burns nearly got pinned on the edge of the mat, and when he spun to try to escape, the referee whistled him for fleeing the mat. Both Green and the Wooster coaching staff pleaded their case that he was simply trying to spin out of a hold, but their pleas fell on deaf ears, and Burns fell out of the tournament with another 3-2 overtime loss.
Two Trojans have strong showings
Newcomerstown sent four wrestlers to the big show in Gavin Weaver (126), Logan Hursey (138), Colton Meek (160) and Jordan Sanders (195).
Meek and Sanders both bowed out early without gaining a victory, but the other two Trojans found their way to the podium.
Hursey, a returning All-Ohioan who placed sixth last year, clawed his way even further up the podium this time around, earning a spot at fourth place.
Hursey (52-3) won his first match by fall in exactly 1:00, then guaranteed himself a podium finish with a 13-4 major decision win over Noah Campbell of Pymatuning Valley. In the semifinals he ran into a buzz saw in New Paris National Trail’s Peyton Lane but quickly rectified that loss by taking down Edison’s Jordan Keegan 8-1 in the consys. In the fight for third place, Hursey dropped a 6-1 decision to Rootstown’s Niko Chilson (45-5). Only a sophomore, Hursey will most certainly be making more noise at Columbus in the next two seasons.
At 126 pounds, Weaver (48-5), who placed fifth, won his opener by fall at 3:42. In the quarterfinals he dropped a loss by fall to Troy Christian’s Ethan Turner, but he was far from finished.
In the consys Weaver topped West Jefferson’s Joey Buckland 10-4, then took down South Range’s Kyle Keenan 1-0 before falling to Zach LaRue of Akron Manchester 5-3. In the fight for fifth place, Weaver recorded a solid 5-2 win to cap off an All-Ohio performance.