In 1989, I was a sports reporter for the Kermos Echo, the school newspaper at East Liverpool High School. Never did I dream that twenty four years later, I would be sitting in the Press Row at the 75th annual Ohio State Wrestling Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Being a former head coach and with over 24 years of involvement, I am no stranger to the wrestling sport.
Our competitors had a long road to get to the state tournament. Division III wrestlers had to battle it out at the Heath Brackets. A total of twelve wrestlers qualified, including five from Caldwell, who finished second as a team. Division II wrestlers came out of the Claymont Brackets. Eleven OVAC wrestlers qualified, including District Champion Steubenville, leading the way with eight wrestlers. This is the first time Steubenville has won the district title since 1994.
The wrestlers have qualified but their job is not over. They want to be added to the OVAC State Champion List, not just enjoy their time in the great city of Columbus.
The first day consisted of two rounds of wrestling in a sixteen man bracket, double elimination. Starting with Division III, the wrestlers competed in weight class order. The following wrestlers were eliminated after losing two in a row on day one:
- 120 Donte C.J. Williams, Martins Ferry, (12), 35-9, 5th at the OVAC Tournament; Austin Reese, Mechanicsburg pin Donte C.J. Williams, Martins Ferry 2:50; Casey Johns, Middlefield Cardinal pin Donte C.J. Williams, Martins Ferry 4:21.
- 138 Zac Cline, Caldwell, (12), 47-6, OVAC Champion; Zane Nelson, Apple Creek Waynedale pin Zac Cline, Caldwell 1:31; Caleb Barnett, Greenwich S. Central pin Zac Cline, Caldwell 0:29.
- 145 Mason Plumly, Barnesville, (12), 42-11, 7th at the OVAC Tournament; Kurt Moore, Creston Norwayne pin Mason Plumly, Barnesville 3:30; Cory Larick, Carey pin Mason Plumly, Barnesville 4:59.
- 152 Jared Leasure, Caldwell, (11), 21-10, 6th at the OVAC Tournament; Jordan Cowell, Archbold tech. fall Jared Leasure, Caldwell 17-2; Sawyer Temple, Haviland Wayne Trace dec. Jared Leasure, Caldwell 5-3.
- 170 Christian Edmond, Bellaire, (12), 39-10, 5th at the OVAC Tournament; Trevor White, Orrville over Christian Edmond, Bellaire default Aaron King, New Lebanon Dixie over Christian Edmond, Bellaire forfeit. Christian had to default to reoccurring seizures.
- 220 Tim Schenkel, Caldwell, (12), 37-9, third at the OVAC Tournament; Kennedy Smith, Bedford St. Peter Chanel tech. fall Tim Schenkel, Caldwell 19-4; Jared Panstingel, Spring. Cath. Central dec. Tim Schenkel, Caldwell 7-0. Tim placed third at heavy weight at the OVAC Tournament but competed at 220 pounds for the State Tournament.
- 106 Josh Henderson, Lisbon Beaver, (11), 35-5, 3rd at the OVAC Tournament; Brad Taton, Mentor Lake Cath. dec. Josh Henderson, Lisbon Beaver 6-3; Matt Pool, Tol. Central Cath. dec. Josh Henderson, Lisbon Beaver 10-6.
- 113 Anthony Craig, Steubenville, (11), 28-13 (11:II-103-6th), 3rd at OVAC Tournament; Brody Hooks, New Richmond dec. Anthony Craig, Steubenville 11-9SV; Wade Hodges, Wauseon pin Anthony Craig, Steubenville 2:36. Anthony was a state placer from last year, but finished two matches and out this year. This shows you how hard the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament is year in and year out. There was two other returning state placers at this weight class also did not place this year so 113 was a tough weight class.
The first day had plenty of ups and downs as eight OVAC wrestlers were eliminated. The team race had two local teams in the top twenty, with Caldwell sitting at sixteenth place in Division III and Steubenville at fourth place in Division II.
Day 2 proved to be a great day of competition and a good day for OVAC wrestlers. The following wrestlers were eliminated after losing their second match:
- 145 Josh Davis, Bellaire, (12), 42-4, 5th at the OVAC Tournament; Josh Davis, Bellaire pin Casey Bishop, Brooklyn 2:19; Tyler Fahrer, Delta pin Josh Davis, Bellaire 3:55; Dakota Stanley, Apple Creek Waynedale pin Josh Davis, Bellaire 4:07.
- 120 Anthony Parada, Steubenville, (11), 36-9, snd at the OVAC Tournament; Calvin Campbell, Lexington pin Anthony Parada, Steubenville 1:06; Anthony Parada, Steubenville dec. Bryson Laytart, Wash. C.H. Miami Trace 7-4; Jose Parsons, Newark Licking Valley dec. Anthony Parada, Steubenville 5-1.
- 152 Trent Mays, Steubenville, (9), 35-8, 2nd at the OVAC Tournament; Bo Jordan, St. Paris Graham Local pin Trent Mays, Steubenville 0:59; Trent Mays, Steubenville dec. Jimmy VanDyke, Wash. C.H. Washington 9-2; Brandon James, Ravenna Southeast dec. Trent Mays, Steubenville 6-5. Trent matched up with Bo Jordan the number one wrestler in the nation at the 152 pound weight class. Being only a freshman Trent ended with a great season, and only will get better.
- 220 Matt Shurina, Cadiz Harrison Central, (12), 48-8, 5th at the OVAC Tournament at 195. Matt decided to wrestle 220 at the State Tournament. Ray Stone, Akron St. Vin.-St. Mary dec. Matt Shurina, Cadiz Harrison Central 4-2; Matt Shurina, Cadiz Harrison Central dec. Jesse LeMaster, Lewistown Indian Lake 9-2; Lucas Sparks, Spring. Shawnee dec. Matt Shurina, Cadiz Harrison Central 3-0.
The OVAC had six wrestlers make the semifinals, guaranteeing them at least a sixth place finish. The semifinal round did not go well for the local wrestlers. That was not the case for Steubenville’s 195 pounder Charlie Keenan. Charlie’s semifinal match was a rematch of the Buckeye Local Sectional finals, against Alex Poole from Carrollton, where Charlie beat Poole 2-1 in overtime. Charlie was in control the entire match and won 6-2, making him a state finalist. Charlie is the first Big Red wrestler to be in the finals since Ethan Birden, in the year 2000.
Losing in the semifinals were:
- Luke Kern, Delta pin Ian Baker, Shadyside 3:10. Jordan Cowell, Archbold dec. Alex Quinn, Shadyside 8-7. Quinn lost the match in the final 25 seconds. It was a very hard loss to watch and I’m sure even harder for Quinn to except.
- Blake Kastl, St. Paris Graham Local tech. fall Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge 17-2.
- Jake Faust, Lexington maj. dec. Shawn McGhee, Steubenville 9-1. Matt Meadows, Cuy. Falls CVCA tech. fall Greg Moray, Steubenville 15-0
The OVAC had one wrestler win in the semifinals, with six others placing. Finishing strong and placing in the State were:
3rd Place Finishers
- 132 Jeremy Border, Caldwell, (12), 50-3 (11:III-125-2nd, 10:III-112-7th, 09:III-103-4th) Jeremy Border, Caldwell pin Dexter Emch, Elmore Woodmore 3:32; Jacob Danishek, Day. Christian dec. Jeremy Border, Caldwell 9-3; Jeremy Border, Caldwell pin Jared Dilley, Amanda-Clearcreek 4:02; Jeremy Border, Caldwell pin Dustin Grier, Creston Norwayne 3:41; Jeremy Border, Caldwell dec. Zach Niner, Liberty Center 5-1. Jeremy became a four time State placer this year and achievement that not many others can claim. Placing fourth, seventh, runner-up, and third respectively. He is also a four time OVAC finalist placing second his freshman through junior years and finally capturing the OVAC crown this year.
- 152 Alex Quinn, Shadyside, (11), 40-3, an OVAC Champion; Alex Quinn, Shadyside tech. fall Damen Escobedo, Gibsonburg 16-1; Alex Quinn, Shadyside pin David Williams, Brookville 3:26; Jordan Cowell, Archbold dec. Alex Quinn, Shadyside 8-7; Alex Quinn, Shadyside pin D.J. Blair, Massillon Tuslaw 2:28; Alex Quinn, Shadyside pin David Williams, Brookville 1:23.
- 106 Devin Brown, Steubenville, (9), 41-9, 2nd at the OVAC Tournament; Devin Brown, Steubenville dec. Jake Zemaitis, Mantua Crestwood 10-5; Eli Stickley, St. Paris Graham Local maj. dec. Devin Brown, Steubenville 11-2; Devin Brown, Steubenville maj. dec. Brandon Carter, Hillsboro 18-6; Devin Brown, Steubenville dec. Brad Taton, Mentor Lake Cath. 7-1; Devin Brown, Steubenville dec. Michael May, Eaton 11-6; Devin Brown, Steubenville dec. Ryan Bennett, Cuy. Falls CVCA 8-5.
4th Place Finishers
- 145 Shawn McGhee, Steubenville, (12), 41-5; two time OVAC Champion and four time OVAC placer; Shawn McGhee, Steubenville maj. dec. Jeff Hojnacki, Cuy. Falls CVCA 17-6; Shawn McGhee, Steubenville dec. Jimmy Klosz, Parma Hts. Holy Name 11-8; Jake Faust, Lexington maj. dec. Shawn McGhee, Steubenville 9-1; Shawn McGhee, Steubenville maj. dec. Nathan Bowers, Wash. C.H. Miami Trace 11-2; T.J. Fox, Mogadore Field dec. Shawn McGhee, Steubenville 4-3. I have watched Shawn grow from 103 pounds to 145. Winning the OVAC tournament this year with his Dad’s 1989 wrestling singlet on was an awesome site. Falling short of a State title, unlike his dad in 1989, Shawn Jr. did win two OVAC titles where his dad could only manage one OVAC title.
- Greg Moray, Steubenville, (11), 45-3, OVCA Champion; Greg Moray, Steubenville pin Ken Hodge, Canton South 4:48; Greg Moray, Steubenville dec. Lucas Sparks, Spring. Shawnee 3-2; Matt Meadows, Cuy. Falls CVCA tech. fall Greg Moray, Steubenville 15-0; Greg Moray, Steubenville dec. Bryan Day, Germantown Valley View 5-4; Ray Stone Akr.-St. Maryon St. Vin Default Greg Moray Steubenville INJ. Greg injured his back and had to medically default his last match. I am sure he will be back next year at full strength.
5th Place Finishers
- 138 Ian Baker, Shadyside, (11), 28-4 finished started the season late with an injury but finished with his first state placement taking 5th. Ian Baker, Shadyside dec. Ryan Harris, Beachwood 5-1; Ian Baker, Shadyside dec. Colt Lovejoy, Harrod Allen East 2-0; Luke Kern, Delta pin Ian Baker, Shadyside 3:10; Ryan Harris, Beachwood dec. Ian Baker, Shadyside 3-1; Ian Baker, Shadyside dec. Colt Lovejoy, Harrod Allen East 8-5.
- 145 Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge, (11), 48-9, 3rd at the OVAC Tournament; Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge dec. Alonzo Turner, Painesville Harvey 4-1; Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge dec. Nathan Bowers, Wash. C.H. Miami Trace 5-3; Blake Kastl, St. Paris Graham Local tech. fall Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge 17-2; T.J. Fox, Mogadore Field maj. dec. Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge 14-0; Sawyer Leppla, Cambridge dec. Nathan Bowers, Wash. C.H. Miami Trace 1-0UTB. Sawyer ended the season with a grueling match were no points were scored in regulation time, both wrestlers rode their opponents for two full minutes in regulation time. In overtime, no takedowns were recorded in the one minute period, and then each wrestler rode each other for the full thirty seconds. In the ultimate tiebreaker Sawyer chose top and Rode out Bowers for the final thirty seconds for the win 1-0.
8th Place Finishers
- 170 Kale Rayner, Caldwell, (11), 49-5, 3rd at the OVAC Tournament; Kale Rayner, Caldwell maj. dec. Jacob McAdams, Jamestown Greeneview 12-2; David Shapiro, Beachwood dec. Kale Rayner, Caldwell 6-4; Kale Rayner, Caldwell dec. Grant Price, Sycamore Mohawk 8-4; Max Brooke, N. Lima South Range dec. Kale Rayner, Caldwell 6-2SV; Austin Ripke, Archbold dec. Kale Rayner, Caldwell 9-6.
- 152 Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Central, (11), 38-10, 8th at the OVAC Tournament; Nick Miller, Ontario pin Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Cent. 1:42; Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Cent. dec. Jamey Perdue, Reading 10-8; Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Cent. dec. Grant Blumenthal, Beachwood 7-4; David Williams, Brookville pin Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Cent. 0:58; Sawyer Temple, Haviland Wayne Trace dec. Zac Potts, Woodsfield Monroe Cent. 5-2.
- 170 Jake Howarth, Steubenville, (12), 38-9, 2nd at the OVAC Tournament; Jake Howarth, Steubenville dec. Nick Rumple, Cuy. Falls Walsh Jesuit 4-2; Brandon Taylor, Gallipolis Gallia Acad. dec. Jake Howarth, Steubenville 7-3; Jake Howarth, Steubenville dec Mark Barrow New Philadelphia 6-4; Wyatt Running, Clarksville Clinton-Massie dec. Jake Howarth, Steubenville 4-3; David Gray, Cuy. Falls CVCA dec. Jake Howarth, Steubenville 7-5.
This brings us back to the only Ohio OVAC State finalist, Big Red’s Charlie Keenan. Charlie placed fourth at the OVAC Tournament.
Charlie Keenan, Steubenville dec. Tyler Bridwell, Hamilton Ross 7-3; Charlie Keenan, Steubenville dec. Evan Nichols, Perry 7-6; Charlie Keenan, Steubenville dec. Alex Poole, Carrollton 6-2; Josh Lehner, Lexington tech. fall Charlie Keenan, Steubenville 17-1.
Charlie could not get any offense working in his final match and lost. He finished the season with a 40-5 record as a junior. He has one more year left to match his dad and uncle with a State Title. Charlie Keenan won his State title in 1984, and his brother Dan Keenan won his State Title in 1988.
In the team race in Division III Shadyside placed fourteenth with 30.5 points, and Caldwell was sixteenth with 26 points. OHSAA Division III Results Steubenville ended fifth in the State with 67 points. OHSAA Division II Results .
Something that caught my eye from this year’s OVAC Tournament was the 195 pound weight class. Five of the eight placers at 195 were in the state finals. Keenan was a finalist in Ohio Division II, but the OVAC had a West Virgina State Champion in Division AAA, Nathan Dawson from Brooke and State Runner up, Thomas Schwing from John Marshall. Then in the division A/AA final match, State Champion, Christian Roe from Madonna and State Runner up, Taylor Neely from Cameron squared off. One accomplishment that may never be reached again is having five state finalists, in the same weight class and year!
This was an exciting year for the OVAC wrestlers, coaches and staff members. I had a great time covering the tournaments with my wife, brother, and all the wonderful people that I came in contact with. These are memories that will last a lifetime. This season brought back a huge amount of memories of my father, who I lost this past summer, and my grandfather, Vince. I remember loading up in a van, heading to as many summer wrestling tournaments that we could go to. I encourage our readers to cherish these times with your parents, sons, daughters, coaches, and fans. These are the memories that will last a lifetime.
Sean Smith has been a moderator and contributor for Ohio Valley Athletics since 2008. He is also the founder and owner of www.ovaecwrestling.com