COLUMBUS — With all the success around the Monroeville program, one victory still eludes the Eagles: the team state title.
After Day 1 of the Division III Ohio State Wrestling Tournament, they’re on a solid path toward their first title, and senior Logan Stieber began his path toward a fourth crown.
Five of the six Monroeville wrestlers in the Division III state tournament moved on Thursday after winning their first matches of the day.
Eagles coach Scott Bauer noted they earned “bonus points” — wins worth more than three points — in four of their five victories.
At the end of the first day, they’re in second place as a team with 17 points, trailing Bedford St. Peter Chanel (19.5). Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy is in third place with 14 points, followed by reigning state champ Troy Christian with 12.
“The kids need to win first, and everything else will take care of itself,” Bauer said. “Would it be nice to win a team title? Absolutely. But it’s not worth putting themselves in a bad position to try and force something that’s not there.
“They’re doing what they need to be doing — winning matches — and they’re scoring bonus points, staying solid and staying in good positions. We’re very, very happy.”
They started off strong with Hunter Stieber, a two-time champion as a junior, half of the Stieber Brothers and a quarter of the “Fab Four.” Hunter pinned Tyler Thompson of Brookfield in 2:48.
Logan Stieber (125), a senior barrelling toward his fourth state championship, scored a 16-1 technical fall against Bloom-Carroll’s Adam Ankrom. Stieber would become the state’s 19th wrestler to win four title’s, and the area first since St. Mary Central Catholic’s Jared Opfer did it from 1996-99.
Cam Tessari (140) pinned Dakota Hook of Nelsonville-York in 3:41 for four more points.
Chris Phillips (171) ran the score up for a 20-5 technical fall against Glouster Trimble’s Coltan Joyce.
“Big guys, I’d say, are harder to pin. Chris is obviously very good on his feet and he’s a good turner,” Bauer said. “His way of contributing is to go out and get techs and that’s what we need.
“That’s Chris’ style. He likes to wrestle. He said one time, ‘Why do I need to know all these wrestling moves if I’m not going to use them?’ That’s just his philosophy.”
Hunter Stieber, Tessari and Phillips are each looking for their third state titles as juniors.
Troy Christian has held the team title for the last three years despite Monroeville’s strong showings. In 2009, Troy Christian edged the Eagles, 113-112, with CVCA following with 103.
The leaders, St. Peter Chanel, are down a wrestler after he was a no-show for his first match. His opponent won on a ‘bye,’ which means he could have missed his weight at the morning weigh-ins.
The Fab Four were joined in victory by junior Cal Clark (135), who overcame a 5-2 second-period deficit for a 11-5 decision over Christian McLaughlin of Carlisle.
“He showed a lot of grit to come back,” Bauer said. “He doesn’t get too concerned on the mat if he knows why he got behind. He’s had some experience on this floor, and that’s obviously a bonus for him.”
Monroeville’s 189, Brent Wilkin, fell in two matches on Thursday. In his first, he was pinned by Northwestern’s Kurtis Schaefer. In his second, he lost a 4-1 decision to Arcanum’s John Sullenbarger.
How are the wrestlers preparing and staying focused in the early stages of the tournament?
“I think you’ve got to let each kid prepare in their own way,” Bauer said. “Some of them like to run, some, like Hunter, like to have a good warm-up match, some like to shadow a match and some like to relax. Whatever makes them feel comfortable is what you want to do.”
The Eagles, if they win, will each wrestle twice today. If they lose, they could wrestle as many as three matches: the championship quarterfinals, the consolation round two and the consolation quarterfinals.