COLUMBUS — Take care of yourself and the team title will come, said several Monroeville wrestlers shooting for their first team state title this weekend in Columbus.
They’re on their way.
The Eagles took a commanding 93-61 lead over second-place Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy heading into the final day of the Division III Ohio State Wrestling Tournament in Columbus, with four wrestlers still alive and scoring.
“I think we’re going to win this tournament, for sure,” Chris Phillips (171) said. “Team-wise, I don’t think Chanel can catch up with us.”
You are going to win the title, Chris, with a day to spare.
CVCA and Bedford St. Peter Chanel, in second and third place, respectively, don’t have enough to catch up, even in the unlikely scenario none of the four Eagles scores tonight. Both schools have four wrestlers remaining, but if all four win, neither can surpass the Eagles.
Senior Logan Steiber wrestled two matches Friday and was on the mat for a total of 3 minutes, 5 seconds. He earned a 15-0 technical fall over his first opponent, Jeremy Walden of Chanel, at the end of the first round.
“My freshman year, I was a lot more nervous,” Stieber, shooting for his fourth state title, said. “Now I’m just a lot more relaxed. I go out there and try to have fun.”
Phillips did his job before speaking, winning a high-scoring shootout with St. Paul’s Mitchell Gross, 26-12.
“I feel like I’m peaking at the right time, during states,” he said. “I won all my matches, so it’s going good.”
He said he’s had even higher-scoring matches before: In 2008, as a freshman in the sectional semifinals, he won a 27-19 decision over Max Dahs of St. Mary Central Catholic.
How does he score so much? Partly by just letting go.
“I’m not very good on top (of an opponent),” he said. “I’m really impatient on top. If I can’t get a turn (onto the opponent’s back) right away, I feel like I’m wasting my time. I let him go, take him down, let him go, take him down … I try to take him down from (his) feet to his back and get points like that. My style is always non-stop action.”
The semifinal was his second 20-point match of the weekend.
Monroeville 140-pound junior Cam Tessari defeated Dan Orrill of St. Peter Chanel in the semifinals. The fact that Chanel was challenging for the Division III title built some of pressure, he said.
“You definitely don’t want to go out there and lose, and be the guy that lost you the team title,” Tessari said. “If you lose an individual thing, it’s not that big of a deal, but you don’t want to end up losing the team title over (one match). So, yeah, there’s a little bit of added pressure, and you want to perform well for your team.”
Hunter Stieber earned some team bonus points with a technical fall in the semifinals against Aaron Branham of West Jefferson (No. 4 in the team standings). He took 5:15 to do it, however, which was less impressive than his brother’s first match.
Their teammate, Cal Clark, fell 13-3 to Dom Barlow of Heath in the consolation quarterfinals in the evening session.
“It feels good to go out there and help (the team) out, but my main thing is to just go out there and wrestle,” Clark said. “If we win a team title, that’s good, but I just need to win.”
Monroeville lost the Div. 3 title by a single point a year ago – 113-112 — to defending champion Troy Christian, which is tied for fifth with 36 points. The Eagles will become the area’s first team to win a state title since SMCC did it in 2006, and the area’s only other four-time champion is Jared Opfer, who won four from 1996-1999.
Logan Steiber would become the 19th wrestler in Ohio’s history to claim a quartet of titles.
The finals begin at 5:45 p.m. today.