All Hunter Stieber needed was a slim advantage for one of the biggest victories of his high school career.
Monroeville's three-time state champion edged Austin Ormsbee of Blair Academy (N.J.), 3-2 in the Ironman finals for his second tournament title in four tries.
"That was a pretty special win," Monroeville coach Scott Bauer said. "Hunter really doesn't show a whole lot of emotion, but he was pretty jacked up after that."
The two top-ranked wrestlers -- Stieber is Intermat's No. 1-rated wrestler at 135 and Ormsbee the No. 1 at 140 -- were set to clash when Ormsbee decided to challenge the three-time state champion from Monroeville at the Walsh Ironman at 135.
"There's nothing like starting off the season with the toughest tournament in the country," Bauer said.
Stieber worked his way to Ormsbee's back in the middle of the first period for the takedown and the 2-0 lead.
Both of Ormsbee's points were on escapes. Down 2-0 in the first, Ormsbee escaped from a start in down position, breaking free to cut the deficit to 2-1. He started the second period down as well, breaking free to tie the match at 2-2.
Stieber's early third-period escape point proved to be the difference. Ormsbee couldn't overcome the 3-2 deficit as he and Stieber danced around. Nearly the entire match took place upright, on two feet. The wrestlers circled through the second and third, looking for openings for a takedown, but neither saw an opportunity. Ormsbee, down 3-2 late in the third, took a few late shots, but Stieber was able to stay on his feet.
Stieber's Monroeville teammate, Chris Phillips, earned his second Ironman title in the 171-pound weight class with a 12-4 victory over Oak Harbor's Konner Witt.
"Chris is dominant on his feet," Bauer said. "For a big guy to be as fast as he is ... You don't apreciate it until you see it."
He won the 171-pound weight class -- and the Most Outstanding Wrestler award -- his freshman year, but fell to Ed Ruth of Blair Academy (N.J.) as a sophomore and was injured in the tournament as a junior. With a major decision over Witt, Phillips is on top of the podium again.
"Konner and Chris go way back. They wrestled each other when they were six years old," Bergman said. "Konner did what he could do with him, which was about the same as anybody else could do with Chris Phillips: Not a whole lot."
Witt defeated former state-champion Kyle Ryan of St. Paris Graham in the semifinals, 2-1. Ryan won the 160-pound class in Division II as a sophomore, but fell in the same finals as a junior.
Witt finished second in the 152-pound weight class in Division II last season, jumping two weight classes for the beginning of the 2010-11 season. With the podium finish, Witt became Oak Harbor's first three-time placewinner.
"For him to place as a sophomore and a junior, and then compete in the finals this year speaks volumes about him," Bergman said.
"It speaks volumes for the type of competitor Konner is: He's a 'go-er,' he loves to compete, he hates losing and he really shines at this tournament."
Ian Miller won the first Ironman title for Oak Harbor in program history with an 8-6 victory over Stephen Robertson of Montini Catholic (Ill.).
Ahead 4-2 in the first period, Robertson scored a takedown on Miller to tie the match at 4-4. Miller's escape game him a 5-4 lead heading into the second. Nearing the end of the third period with Miller ahead, 8-6, Robertson, a two-time Illinois state champion, took a last shot at a takedown to force overtime, but Miller was able to avoid him for the victory.
Miller defeated Robertson last year in the Ironman, as well, by a 5-2 decision.
"We knew the guy would wrestle him, and wouldn't run from him," Bergman said. "Ian was in control, but it was a scary match. Obviously, the guy is a very good competitor."
The Rockets have had three runners up in the Ironman before this season. Ian's uncle, Jake Miller, Cody Magrum and Ian himself had all claimed runner-up titles previously. Witt added to the silver medal count this season with his trip to the finals at 171.
"(Ironman titles are) obviously very, very special and very difficult to come by," Bergman said.
In his Ironman title defense, Monroeville's Cam Tessari fell to No. 3-seeded Evan Henderson of Kiski School (Penn.) in the finals, 5-3, to finish as the runner up. Tessari won the 2009 Ironman on a 4-3 decision.
"Cam was a little conservative about his approach," Bauer said. "He got taken down in the first and couldn't get the escape" forcing him to wrestle from behind for most of the match.