It’s been eight years since Margaretta had anyone make the Division III state podium.
Polar Bear junior Deven Taylor ended that drought Saturday morning.
Taylor fell 3-1 to Archbold’s Logan Day — and then 1-0 to Mechanicburg’s Joe Ziegler in the battle for fifth or sixth.
“I am definitely proud I made it this far,” Taylor said. “When I started out, I was expecting to get higher, but it was a close match and I thought I had it. Then I had to go the hard way and just fell down from there. Realizing how close I was, I want to be on top of that podium. I can actually reach it and be up there.”
Josh Fox was Margaretta’s last state placer, finishing fourth in 2005 at 189.
“We haven’t had anyone up there in awhile, so I just hope I made my community proud,” Taylor said. “I think I definitely did make them proud, representing them and my school.”
Still not satisfied
St. Paul set a school record qualifying five Flyers to the state tournament in Div. III.
None of those five, or coach Pat Welfle are satisfied.
Three of the Flyers placed in the top eight, earning podium finishes for St. Paul.
“Like always when you come to state tournaments, it is just crazy and full of highs and lows — and that is the way the whole weekend was again this year,” Welfle said. “We placed three of them which are underclassman, so they are all back next year. I think that ties the school record as far as placement too, so they did good. Obviously you like to win in the finals, but we wrestled tough in them and just didn’t get it done. I’m still so proud of them.”
Hayden Miller finished eighth at 170, while junior Wes Fritz took eighth at 132.
“It’s pretty sweet feeling to place again but I’m not quite satisfied yet, because you always want to win and do better than you did the previous year,” Fritz said. “That didn’t happen this year but it gives me more motivation to push harder next year and maybe win the gold. All my losses this year, every kid but maybe one was down here this year.”
Freshman Derek Gross was a few seconds away from a top three finish, but was pinned with a second left in the final period to take fourth at 138, falling to Waynedale’s Bradley Wardell.
“I just got nervous, I guess. I slipped,” Gross said of his final match. “I shouldn’t have hooked his leg. He got me in the hangman or whatever that was.”
With three years left, Gross has put himself on wrestling fanatics’ radar.
“It’s great that I placed as a freshman,” he said. “Hopefully I can do better next year. I’m going to work hard with Wes and hopefully we can (be) state champions next year.”
When Evan Cheek told his dad he wanted to wrestle as a kid, he was immediately shot down.
So the Edison junior convinced his dad the only way he knew how. Winning.
“Brady (Barnett) got me started in wrestling when we both went to Willard,” Cheek said of his elementary days. “I played on his baseball team, I was a pitcher and he was a catcher. One day he just told me he thought I would be a good wrestler so I asked my dad, and my dad wouldn’t let me. His dad took me to practice one day and I loved it. I was actually good and won like my first five tournaments. After my dad saw me win the first tournament, I think he kind of realized.”
Friday was a rough day for Cheek, who fell out of the 120 title hunt to eventual champion Garrett Hancock.
But Cheek battled his way back through the consolation bracket, and posted a 3-1 decision over Bethel-Tate’s Aric Peters, to earn a third place podium finish.
“Keeping my focus off the loss and just refueling myself made me work harder for the consolation matches,” Cheek said. “This fuels me a lot more than last year because this year I was so close to doing it.”
Last year, Cheek was fourth at 106 in Div. II.
“I think he showed a lot of heart battling back,” Edison coach Davy Hermes said. “A lot of times when you take a loss that you don’t think you should take, it’s hard for them to regain their focus. He did a nice job, which now gives him the opportunity to be seeded away from other kids next year, which is always a plus.”
Barnett, a freshman, also turned some heads this weekend, finishing sixth behind St. Mary Central Catholic’s Alex Smith, who posted a 7-0 decision over Barnett in the consolation finals.
“We needed to win that consi semifinal match that he lost 5-4,” Hermes said of Barnett’s Saturday morning match. “He’s wrestled Alex Smith three or four times this year and hasn’t been able to beat him yet. It’s not a good matchup for us right now, technical-wise. He wrestled well in the tournament. To come out as a freshman and place sixth at a very good weight class says a lot for him.”
Barnett and Cheek are already ready for next season.
“Brady and I are like brothers, so it’s great to see him place,” Cheek said. “I think next year I’ll be bigger and me and Brady will still be back-to-back weight classes, but maybe him at 26 or 20 or me at 26 or 32.”
Micah Jordan of St. Paris Graham Local and Dayton Christian’s Jacob Danishek became four-time state champions Saturday night, joining an elite group of Ohioans.
Prior to the weekend, just 25 other wrestlers had made history with four straight championships. Of those 25, now 27, five are from the area.
SMCC coach Jared Opfer won his four titles from 1996-99 while Monroeville’s Logan Stieber won from 2007-10. Monroeville’s Chris Phillips, Hunter Stieber and Cam Tessari all won their titles from 2008-11.
St. Paris Graham coach Jeff Jordan, Micah's father, was also a four-time state champion, as was older brother Bo Jordan. Micah will be teammates with Bo and both Stieber brothers at Ohio State next season.
Willard’s Major Moore concluded his weekend with a fourth place finish at 132 in Div. II. Monroeville’s Grant Fidler finished eighth at 138, while South Central’s Cameron Conaway placed fourth at 220.
In Div. II, Norwalk’s Charlie Nash (106) finished eighth for the Truckers, while Oak Harbor’s Ben Petersen finished eighth at 145. Blake Miller (152) was sixth, while Perkins’ John Workman (195) was eighth. Kordell Chaney was seventh at 220.