31 OVAC wrestlers to compete in OHSAA State Tournament starting today | News, Sports, Jobs


COLUMBUS — For the first time in three years, wrestlers from across Ohio will converge on the Jerome Schottenstein Center for the state tournament.

The three-day event was canceled in 2020 by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which also forced the 2021 tournament to be held at three central Ohio high schools – one for each division (I, II, III).

When the 85th annual show begins at 3 p.m. today inside Value City Arena on the Ohio State University campus, 31 of the 672 grapplers who will be seeking state titles are from OVAC schools.

Section III

Eight of the aforementioned 10 are in Buckeye State’s “smallest division” and half of them are from Barnesville, which defended its Southeast/Central/Eastern Championship with four individual titles and one runner-up .

Sophomores Dakota King (120) and Skyler King (138), along with junior Logan Tague (150) repeated as district champions.

Rounding out the title lists is freshman Ayden King (144).

Dakota King (42-3), ranked fourth by Borofan and OVAC champion, placed sixth last year at 113 at Marion Harding High School.

He meets Ramakrishna Gandhi (41-8), sixth in the Reading senior standings, in the first round.

Seventh-seeded Skyler King (44-5) takes on Hamler Patrick Henry junior Jeff Camp (39-6) to open things up. The camp is 14th.

Ayden King (44-10), who is seeded 10th, tangles with Oak Harbor senior Cade Petersen (36-8) who finished eighth at 145 last winter and brings a 14th seed in the game.

Tague (33-11) is paired with Apple Creek Waynedale senior Caleb Zimmerman (34-14). Tague is ranked 21st while Zimmerman is unranked.

Senior Griffen Stephen (132), ranked 15th, won his fourth trip to the state tournament with a second-place finish. The Shamrocks’ all-time wins leader is the only local wrestler in this division to have competed inside The Schott. He did it as a rookie and is paired with Mechanicsburg senior Trey Allen (45-4) who was the state runner-up at 126 last season. Allen is ranked fourth.

“The one thing I can say about these young men is that they all put in the extra time and hard work to get to where they are now,” said Barnesville head coach Jayson Stephen. “They will give 100% no matter what or who stands in front of them.

“I always tell them they are not respected, but they can definitely earn it,” he added. “Everything that’s necessary.”

Martins Ferry fires junior Dylan Ward (113) and senior Zak Dobson (215).

Ward (37-4), ranked eighth, meets second-placed Tontogany Otsego Trevor Wilcox (33-7) who was seventh at 106 last year and fourth this year.

The sixth Dobson (49-3) takes on Milan Edison senior Jacob Thompson (45-8), who brings a No. 9 ranking in the tournament.

“I’m very proud of what Zak and Dylan have achieved this year. However, they both know they’re not done yet. Martins Ferry head coach Chad Ware said. “They’ve been in the state tournament before and won a game at that level.

“We all think they have the ability to get on the podium on Sunday night,” he added.

Harrison Central junior Lucas Thomas (215) qualified for the first time. Thomas (41-5) takes on Lucas senior Zane Finley (35-8). Thomas was also an OVAC title roster and has a No. 5 ranking. Finley is 14th.

“Lucas has taken a long time over the years to get where he is today and my coaching staff and I are very proud of him,” said Harrison Central head coach Bill Bryant. “I am happy that his hard work and dedication to the sport of wrestling is starting to pay off. Once he realizes his full potential and can then put that potential into competition, the only person who will beat him is himself.

In Division II, Steubenville leads a group of 21 with five qualifiers, while Beaver Local, Dover and Indian Creek have four each. St. Clairsville has two. Cambridge and New Philadelphia have one each.

The qualifiers for the Red Devils are seniors Gannon Kazmirski (113) and Caden Stout (150).

“Gannon and Caden are two of the best young men in the world. They both excel in the classroom as well as in other sports. Caden was MVP for the football team and Gannon MVP for the cross country team,” St. Clairsville head coach Joel Sansone said. “They have two very different styles of wrestling, but one thing in common is that their styles translate into wins.

“Gannon was an OVAC Champion, Section Champion and District Runner-up, as well as a 2021 State Qualifier,” said Sansone. “He heads into the state tournament with 135 career wins, which is tied for eighth all-time in school history.”

Stout is a four-time qualifier and also competed inside The Schott as a rookie. He was an OVAC finalist that season.

“Caden is a two-time OVAC finalist and four-time usher, section champion, district champion and is now a four-time state qualifier,” Sansone noted. “He heads into the state tournament with 174 career wins, which is second all-time in school history.”

Kazmirski (44-6) takes on Sandusky Perkins senior Billy Smith (44-5), who was seventh a year ago at 106 and is ranked No. 2 this season. Stout (45-4) is ranked No. 5 and meets Streetsboro rookie Cohen Klimak (34-9) in his first fight.

“Gannon and Caden show up every day eager to compete and improve their skills and conditioning. They both have one last goal to accomplish in their high school careers, and that is to finish on the podium in the D-2 State Tournament.

“Coaching these two for four years has been an honor and a privilege,” said Sansone.

The Big Red qualifiers are Brody Saccoccia (120), Cal Beadling (126), Saviar Faulks (150), Brandon Kinney (190) and Peyton Tuttle (285).

The Redskins are represented by CJ Spencer (144), Dom Paterra (150), Reese Spencer (165) and Austin Starr (190).



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