Two days down, one more to go for the 72nd Annual State Wrestling Tournament at The Ohio State University. Here's some random thoughts and observations by me:
To me, the match that held the most meaning in the evening session was the Jonathan McGookey-Brad Wukie clash. Everyone knew that was the key match to decide who would win the 152-pound weight class. Even both wrestlers were looking ahead to this match. I don't understand why it wasn't the championship match, but the bracket people really made some questionable decisions.
There were a lot of weight classes where the Nos. 1 and 2 wrestlers met in the semifinals, and that included every division. I can guess that they probably wanted to come up with some entertaining semifinals that weren't anticlimactic. Unfortunately, by doing so, you risk creating championship matches that are anticlimactic. But, that's just me.
I'll be honest. I thought, once Cal Clark was eliminated in the early morning session, that Monroeville's chances at a team state title were dead. But, surprise, surprise, the other two teams lost matches in the semifinals, while Monroeville won all of theirs in dominating fashion. If all four win state titles as expected Saturday night, it will be an interesting race.
Last year, this area got 13 wrestlers in the finals. This year, we've got seven. Not bad, considering the overall number of qualifiers were down to just 32. I think all seven have realistic chances to win state titles. I would not be shocked if we went 7-for-7.
Congratulations to my colleague Jamie Baker of the Findlay Courier for getting the annual media award given during the wrestling tournament. His Northwest Wrestling Blog is a MUST read for any fan of amateur wrestling, especially at the high school level.
Incidentally, much to my surprise, I was a finalist for next year's award. I'm going up against my former boss and professional mentor Kermit Rowe (now with the Springfield News-Sun) and Chuck Martinez from the Defiance paper. Who knows, I may have to pack my suit next year and get an award. We shall see. I would like to see Kermit get some recognition, though. And yes, I did try to get Butch Wagner's name in there.
Saturday's championship session, if you've never experienced it, is something to behold. They dim the lights, put the spotlights on the champs as they parade out of the tunnel onto an elevated stage for the three mats. It still brings chills down the spine, even after nine years of covering the event. I look forward to it, but I also feel a bit sad, because I know the weekend is almost over at that point.
Lastly, keep an eye on Sandusky's Jerrell Valliant and Edison's Craig Ritz. Both lost their very first match, and have not lost since. If they both wrestle all the way to the third place match, that's tremendous. It's hard enough to win four matches here, let alone five or six. They deserve major props.
Till tomorrow ...