With a ton of returning Junior Freestyle standouts and a barrage of Cadet Freestyle stars moving up, Team Ohio should stand out from the rest. (Brad Bournival)
By Brad Bournival
FARGO, N.D. — The Fargo Freestyle National Tournament concluded Saturday and the talk is already about 2017.
While a seventh-place finish overall might look good to some, Team Ohio came in with aspirations of winning the tournament.
Whether it was a rash of injuries or some wrestlers not living up to their own expectations, the feeling around the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D., was one determination when the tournament reconvenes in July next year.
“Every year you come, you get more experience,” said 2016 freestyle runner-up Dylan D’Emilio of Genoa. “You expect more and more each time you come. Next year, we have a good idea of what’s coming and a better idea of what needs to be done. We’ll be motivated a lot more.”
Team Ohio had a champion and tournament outstanding wrestler in Cornell recruit and Elyria graduate Ben Darmstadt (195 pounds) with D’Emilio (113) as a national finalist.
Delta’s Drew Mattin (4th, 120), a five-time All-American is eligible to return as are Defiance’s Tim Bowers (5th, 170) and Dayton Christian’s Tommy Hoskins (8th, 120). Add a handful of wrestlers that were injured either before or during the tournament and Team Ohio is loaded in 2017.
“We’re excited to get that opportunity,” Mattin said. “Some kids can’t come back, but the ones that really want to are going to come and look to win it.”
It’s not just the returning Junior wrestlers coming back as an influx of Cadet Freestylers will make the jump to the next level with the expectations of winning a title.
Two-time Cadet Freestyle champ Jordan Decatur of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy is part of that group as is three-time All-American and Cadet Greco finalist Lucas Byrd of LaSalle and All-American Gabe Tagg of Brecksville.
That has those around the team and on it excited for what’s to come as Team Ohio looks to win its first national title in Junior Freestyle since 2003 and add a sixth national championship to its resume.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Mattin said. “Decatur, Byrd, all those guys coming in plus the studs we have now will be great. We’ll get experience and competition-like experience in the practice room. We’ll need it.”
It’s going to make for a heck of a lightweight division for Team Ohio as the Buckeye state will start off each session in Fargo next year with a kick.
“I’m motivated to keep doing what I’m doing and execute better,” D’Emilio said. “The room is always tough. We have guys scrapping. We have good guys coming up that should be able to do some damage down here. The team should be looking as good as ever. Maybe, we’ll get a title next year.”
The Cadet Freestyle squad from Team Ohio showed well in Fargo, N.D., crowning three champions. (Brad Bournival)
By Brad Bournival
FARGO, N.D. — The Cadet Freestyle squad from Team Ohio had a little message for the rest of the nation at Fargo, N.D., this weekend. It was simple, but sweet.
“We got next.”
While everyone was busy watching the Junior Freestyle action, and rightfully so, the Cadet squad put together quite a big weekend and finished fourth.
Brecksville’s Julian Tagg took home top honors at 100 pounds to join CVCA’s Jordan Decatur (120) at the top of the podium.
Braxton Amos of Parkersburg South, who wrestled for Tam Ohio thanks to a protest by New Jersey, took home another title at 195 as the Buckeye State showed once again how great it is.
In short, the future looks bright for Team Ohio.
“It’s very big, very, very big,” Tagg said. “We have guys that didn’t do as well as they wanted here, but they’re going to go back and work hard.
“We’ve got guys coming up and they’re working extremely hard. We’re going to be ready to kick some butt.”
Tagg certainly did enough butt-kicking in his match, taking Greco-Roman champion Ridge Lovett of Idaho and whooping him in an 8-2 match that wasn’t even that close.
Decatur, who went back-to-back, faced Brody Teske of Iowa, an undefeated wrestler out of Iowa.
It wasn’t even a match as Decatur won by technical fall, 13-0.
“After the first takedown, I was like, ‘Ok. I got this,’” Decatur said. I just had to keep getting to my attacks and getting on the mat and I knew I’d be a Fargo champ again.”
It was yet another champion from Ohio in a state that seems to breed winners year after year.
Elyria’s Dylan Shawver (106) was third, Middletown’s Cole Skinner (88) finished fourth, St. Edward’s Angelo Rini (106) was fifth and Aurora’s Andrew Garr was eighth as the lowerweights ruled the tournament.
With double champion Amos reaching the finals, it showed just how strong 2017-19 might be.
“The future is bright, very bright,” Decatur said. “With guys fighting for position and different weight classes and a lot of us fighting to be Fargo champs again, I think we’re going to do a lot of damage.”
The team as the backing of many of the Freestyle coaches from the state as they see Team Ohio continuing its uphill climb to excellence.
“Everybody’s talking about Junior Frees, but they had to start somewhere, too, right?’ Team Ohio coach Jacob Kasper said. “They had to start at the Cadets. I think that’s why they are where they are right now.
“Our coaching staff with Coach (Erik) Burnett, Coach (Adam) Koballa, Coach (Jim) Lehman, they do an amazing job to get the best out of these guys. They love the sport and love helping, so these guys know how to transition to that junior level.”
From left to right, Vic Marcelli, Drew Fenton and James Handwerk made up three-fourths of the All-Americans from Team Ohio in Junior Greco-Roman competition. (Brad Bournival)
By Brad Bournival
FARGO, N.D. — Corey Shie, Vic Marcelli, James Handwerk and Drew Fenton gave Team Ohio fans a taste of what could be Tuesday by earning All-American status in Greco-Roman competition.
What it also did for the quartet from the Buckeye state was whet the appetite a bit as all four will wrestle in Freestyle action Thursday for what they hope is a national team title.
Shie (138) and Handwerk (182) finished fourth, while Fenton (220) was sixth and Marcelli (170) eighth.
“It definitely gets us prepared,” LaSalle’s Shie said. “We’re out here a little earlier than the freestyle guys. We’re a little more beat up than the freestyle guys, but for me, finishing fourth gives me that extra motivation.”
The way the four see it, it gives them a slight edge as they head into the best freestyle competition USA Wrestling can offer in the states.
While both styles are fantastic, freestylers are oftentimes known as “leg men,” preferring the flash as they stay away from the grit.
A Greco competitor is all upper body, so when the freestyle competition gets underway they’re a bit more refined with their attacks.
“They don’t understand the ability to be able to use your hips and body when you go into freestyle,” Lakota West’s Fenton said. “Even though you can trip people, upper body means everything in both styles.”
Shie sees the advantage as well in his quest for a sixth Fargo All-American this week.
“If you go down by a lot in a match, Greco technique can help,” he said. “In freestyle, a lot guys don’t usually see the throws that you’re seeing. They’re not expecting that.”
There’s also a brotherhood amongst Greco competitors.
While a wrestler’s community is tight-knight, Greco wrestlers are a different type of athlete.
“It’s indescribable,” Fenton said. “I’ve been training with them for five years. The amount of respect you have for another person that does Greco is incomparable to either of the other two sports (freestyle and folkstyle) in how much more you have to put in to throwing someone else around with just your upper body muscles. Being able to roll someone with your legs, it’s everything you have just to move someone.”
Wauseon’s McKayla Campbell (105) has a bit more motivation and drive after the senior finished third in Women’s Junior Freestyle competition.
A two-time national champion, Campbell rolled into the quarterfinals before California’s Alleida Martinez, who eventually won the title, beat her by technical fall.
She rebounded to win the next three matches before beating Hawaii’s Tiare Ikei by technical fall.
It’s all motivation for World Championships in France for Campbell, who finished fifth last year in Bosnia.
“I have to work on the little things in my wrestling,” Campbell said. “This is going to make me work harder in the wrestling room. I have to keep reminding myself I have to improve more each day.”
National champion Braxton Amos and Team Ohio rolled to a seventh-place finish in Fargo, N.D., at the Cadet Greco-Roman Nationals. (Brad Bournival)
By Brad Bournival
How much did wrestling in the finals of the Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D., mean to Team Ohio wrestlers?
Lucas Byrd (100 pounds) gave up his finger. Braxton Amos (195) gave up his state.
It equated to a title for Amos and runner-up finish for Byrd.
Amos’ story is an interesting one as he went out to Tulsa, Okla., and won a title with Team Ohio in the National Duals because his team — West Virginia — didn’t field a team.
When he came to Fargo, Amos wrestled in the blue and yellow for West Virginia.
Ironically, it took a win over new teammate Cameron Sauerwein of in the semifinals to draw the attention of New Jersey.
The state filed a complaint and because he wrestled for Ohio and was a regional champion and had the blessing of the West Virginia coaching staff, he came over to the Buckeye state.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Amos said. “I don’t really know what to think at this point. I’m happy to be bearing Ohio’s colors and West Virginia’s colors at the same time. It feels like I’m representing both states.”
After three tech fall wins and a decision, Amos reached the finals where he faced Iowa’s Kaleb Reeves.
Reeves, who beat Amos in the Duals, never had a chance in an 11-0 tech fall by Amos, who will wrestle for Parkersburg South in the winter.
With the title under his belt, Amos is ready to turn to Freestyle and compete with Team Ohio.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot more,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling with Coach Miron (Kharchilava) out of Dublin, Ohio, since second grade, so freestyle comes naturally to me.”
For LaSalle’s Byrd a romp through the bracket ended with a technical fall loss to Idaho two-style champion Ridge Lovett.
That loss comes with an asterisk, however, as he broke his finger early in the match and could never recover.
“It's going to push me a lot,” Byrd said. “I'm going to have to work on my gut defense. I knew Ridge was good on top and i didn't stop it. It's unfortunate that I did break it, but it's going to push me even harder to give that extra hour in practice to get my work in.”
Byrd demanded it from himself as well and it showed in the lead up to the finals. Before his only loss, the 2015 two-style All-American scored pins over Nebraska’s Beau Kaup and Michigan’s La Joie, sandwiching them around three technical fall wins.
“He has a great ceiling,” Team Ohio coach Gavin Speelman said. “He can excel. It sucks losing a national title, but it’s the best motivation for him. He can turn that around. He has the best attitude I’ve seen and I’ve done this for six years.”
Ohio wasn’t without its All-Americans as Winton Woods’ Cornell Beachem (5th, 160), Sauerwein (5th, 195), Lancaster’s Logan Agin (7th, 106) and Dublin Coffman’s Lennox Wolak (8th, 160) got to sit in the chairs of honor as top-eight finishers.
It led to a seventh-place team finish for a young Ohio team ready to make noise in the future.
“I think what we’re doing with the staff we have and the mindset of our training camp, we have the right mindset,” Speelman said. “Next year and years to come we should be up there in the top three or top two. The goal is to win national titles."
With the Junior National Duals title in the rearview mirror, Team Ohio has turned its attention to Fargo, N.D., in hopes of bringing home some more hardware. (Photo by John Sachs/Tech-Fall.com)
By Brad Bournival
Three weeks ago, hands were raised more often than not as Team Ohio won the Junior National Freestyle Duals in Tulsa, Okla.
Those hands might as well have been fingers pointing to Fargo, N.D., because that’s where thoughts went to immediately following the win.
A year ago, the Junior Freestyle National Championships in the FargoDome saw Team Ohio finish second behind Oklahoma. Next week, the squad has some unfinished business as it looks to claim the title.
“The goal is trying to win it no matter what,” said Genoa’s Dylan D’Emilio, who finished first as a Cadet last year, but is now a Junior. “But it makes it more fun with a team like this. We want to put Ohio at the top. It makes you appreciate it. It makes you want it all over again.”
While Brecksville champion Austin Assad and Elyria runner-up Kevin Vough aren’t back, runner-up Drew Mattin (120 pounds) from Delta and a slew of All-Americans return on a stacked team looking to squash the competition.
Every day in the St. Edward wrestling room, Team Ohio is getting after it and with an overabundance of talent it is getting better with one goal in mind.
Cornell recruit Ben Darmstadt (195), who went 16-0 in Tulsa with 15 falls, has seen the work the team has put in and can’t wait to head back out to Fargo looking to better his fourth-place finish from last year and put Team Ohio in the rarest of air. Coach Todd Haverdill sees it, too.
“You look at the level of kid at freestyle state, freestyle state duals and the amount of kids at regional and I think we’re doing a better job of trying to get our best kids to go,” Haverdill said. “For years, Ohio was really down. We hadn’t won it in a while. Last year, we were knocking on the door and I think it showed if we could get our best kids to go, we could win it all.”
The confidence isn’t just limited to the Junior Freestyle ranks as the Cadet Freestyle squad from Team Ohio saw what happened in the class above them and are ready to get after it in Fargo.
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Jordan Decatur (126), who won a stop sign last year, is ready to repeat the feat and is grabbing inspiration from all sorts of places. He’ll have Kirtland’s Angelo Rini (106), who took first, there pushing the team as well.
“We’ll need contributions from everyone, but I’m excited,” Decatur said. “I’m hoping we can make top two. I think we can win, honestly. We have a great group of kids that are dedicated. They want it that bad.”
Wauseon’s McKayla Campbell (105) is ready to defend a title she has won twice already in Freestyle, will defend her title again before heading off to France in a month to wrestle in the Junior Worlds.
The Cadet Greco team is a bit green, but will rely on people like Lucas Byrd (100), who finished third last year.
“We want it pretty bad,” Byrd said. “We all want to be on top. We have to be able to manage a match and score.”
The Junior Greco team will point to returning All-Americans Mattin, Hamilton’s Corey Shie (138), Massillon Jackson’s Vic Marcelli (170), Lutheran West’s James Handwerk (182) and Sandusky’s Ja’mez Young to push forward.
In winning the Junior National Freestyle Duals, Team Ohio did something it hadn't since 2009. Ohio, ranked sixth, also knocked off the top three seeds in the process. (Photo by John Sachs/Tech.Fall.com)
By Brad Bournival
TULSA, Okla. — Team Ohio knows seeds are for planting.
Coming in as the projected sixth-best team at the Junior National Freestyle Duals over the weekend, the Buckeye state knew not many states would pay the squad much mind.
So, Ohio went out and won the whole ball of wax, knocking of top-seeded Illinois 37-27.
“We showed that Ohio is here to compete,” Elyria’s Ben Darmstadt said. “No one was talking about us before the tournament, saying we could win it. But we knew with the dudes we were bringing that we could knock off anyone.”
Darmstadt should know. The Cornell recruit and 195-pound standout went 8-0 in Freestyle.
Counting his Greco-Roman matches, where Ohio finished ninth, Darmstadt ended his time in Tulsa, Okla., by going 16-0, winning just once by regular decision.
In Freestyle action, he was part of a squad that registered wins over Louisiana, 66-1, Texas Blue, 52-13, Arizona, 51-12, and third-seeded New Jersey, 34-33 to advance.
Ohio then bounced Michigan Blue, 45-18, Pennsylvania, 52-10, and second-seeded Minnesota Red, 38-25, to set up its match with projected champ Illinois.
“We’ve always been up for a national title, not only in the duals but at Fargo (N.D.) as well” said 182-pounder James Handwerk, who lives in Medina. “Now that we finally got the duals down, it’s looking like Ohio has a really good chance at Fargo, too.”
The Air Force pledge was part of a team loaded with talent.
Today, Lucas Byrd (100), Javion Jones (106), Oscar Sanchez (106), Dylan D’Emilio (113), Drew Mattin (120), Allan Hart (126), Nicholas Berry (126), Tariq Wilson (132), Corey Shie (138), Dom Demas (145), Davey Tunon (152), Nico O’Dor (152), Austin Hiles (160), Jesse Beverly (170), Victor Marcelli (170), JT Brown (182), Jared Campbell (220), Matt Adams (285) and Andrew Fenton (285) join Darmstadt and Handwerk as a champion who saw action over the weekend in Tulsa.
Against Illinois, Ohio lost four of the first six matches, but turned it up and won eight of the 15 to take the title.
In doing so, they became the first team from Ohio to win the Freestyle Nationals Duals since 2009.
That team was loaded with future Dan Hodge Trophy winners Logan Stieber and David Taylor as well as Hunter Stieber, Felipe Martinez, Cam Tessari, Jeremy Johnson and David Habat.
“It shows that these teams like Illinois and Minnesota are beatable,” Darmstadt said. “That should just drive us further to win that national title in Fargo.”
That’s the biggest carrot in the patch as Ohio finished second last year in Fargo, behind Oklahoma and one point ahead of Illinois.
A squad once again loaded with talent, the Junior Freestyle team heads to July in mid-July with a ton of standouts and the confidence knowing it can claim that top step.
“The entire team was working as one (in Tulsa),” Handwerk said. “In every single match, we were going out there and everyone was screaming for each other. We were really just feeding off of everyone’s energy. It was really a good moment.
“It was all mental. In previous years, we walked into the tournament not thinking we could win it. This year, every single night we went into the team meeting thinking, ‘We could win this. This is our year. We’ll remember this. This was going to be the year Team Ohio takes it all.’”
BY GARY ABBOTT, USA WRESTLING | JUNE 25, 2016, 4:12 P.M. (ET)
Ohio, the 2016 Junior National Duals freestyle champion, after big win over Illinois. Photo by John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com
TULSA, Okla. – Illinois must have felt pretty good at the start of the Junior Nationals Freestyle Duals finals against Ohio on Saturday. With the dual meet starting at 138 pounds, Illinois came out with wins in four of the first six bouts, including a pin and a technical fall, for a 16-10 lead.
But Ohio had them just where they wanted them.
Led by a group of powerful lightweight stars, Ohio won six of the final nine matches for a comfortable 37-27 victory over Illinois and the Junior Duals freestyle title.
The early run by Illinois included victories by Jaime Hernandez (138), Shayne Oster (152), Austin O’Connor (160) and Logan Gruszka (182). Gruszka needed just 37 seconds to take James Handwerk to his back and score a pin, worth five big team points.
A wild comeback at 152 pounds by Oster showed the competitive nature of this dual meet. Ohio’s Davey Tunon scored a four-point takedown, two gut wrenches and on a step out to lead 9-0 in the first period. Tunon was one point away from a technical fall. Oster came back with two four-point throws and a point on a failed challenge to tie it up at 9-9. Tunon scored a point on a stepout and led 10-9 at the break. In the second period, Oster opened up the offense, with a two-point takedown, a four-point takedown on a cradle and three consecutive leg lace turns for 12 straight points and a 21-10 technical fall.
The tide turned in the upper weights, as Benjamin Darmstadt of Ohio pinned Patrick Brucki of Illinois in 50 seconds at 195 pounds and Jared Campbell added a 10-0 technical fall at 220 pounds over Christian Brunner. Illinois heavyweight Anthony Cassioppi won a close match, and the score was 20-19 in favor of Ohio when a short intermission was taken to give out some event awards.
Then came out the Ohio little men, and it was pretty much all over.
It started with a pair of technical falls, as Lucas Byrd put away Matthew Ramos, 14-2 at 100 pounds and Oscar Sanchez ran off with a 10-0 win over Anthony King at 106 pounds. At 113, Dylan D’Emilio was in control in an 8-2 win over Joey Melendez. The run was capped off with an impressive 10-0 technical fall by Drew Mattin over Illinois star Louie Hayes at 120 pounds. The score with two bouts to go was Ohio 35, Illinois 21. The lightweights had clinched the win.
Illinois did win those two last matches, decision victories by Travis Piotrowski at 126 and Gabriel Townsell at 132.
The last bout of the day, between Townsell and Tariq Wilson, will be an internet classic. A total of 42 points were scored in this wide-open display of offense, a 21-21 tie when the final whistle blew. Townsell jumped to an 11-4 lead early in the first, but Wilson stormed back to take a 14-11 lead at the break. Townsell came back to lead 19-4, but Wilson rallied again for a 21-19 lead. A takedown by Townsell with four seconds tied it all up, and Townsell won on criteria.
1st place in the USA!
See the International section for more shots of our Ohio kids in Russia
Ohio represented itself very well over the weekend at the UWW Cadet and University Nationals held at the University of Akron. (Photo by Debbi Kallai)
Past, present and future.
All is well in USA Wrestling when it comes to the state of Ohio based on the UWW Cadet and University Nationals over the weekend at the University of Akron.
To say the Buckeye State fared well isn’t doing Ohioans justice as Massillon Perry’s David Carr (69 kilograms) punched his ticket to the world team by winning the Cadet Freestyle title.
Ohio also had runners-up in Genoa’s Dylan D’Emilio (50 kg) and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Jordan Decatur (54 kg) in Cadet Freestyle
Cincinnati LaSalle’s Lucas Byrd (46 kg) was a two-time All-American on the Cadet side with a fourth in freestyle and sixth in Greco, but had a ton of company.
By the time it was finished, St. Edward’s Ty Walz (3rd, 125, University Freestyle), Edison’s Evan Cheek (6th, 66 kg University Greco), Solon’s Anthony Collica (7th, 70kg, University Freestyle), Canton McKinley’s Maurice Miller (7th, 66 kg, University Greco), Massillon Perry’s Jose Rodriguez (8th, 61 kg, University Freestyle) and St. Edward’s Marcus Scheidel (8th, 70 kg University Freestyle) were All-Americans at the collegiate level.
“I’m really excited,” Ohio chairman Chris Kallai said. “From where we started, Ohio wrestlers are beginning to see the opportunities they didn’t have before because of travel now that it’s right in our backyard. Moving forward, I think we’ll get even more interest.”
CVCA’s Matthew Cardello (3rd, 50 KG, Cadet Freestyle), Lakota East Jon Spaulding (3rd, 125 kg Cadet Freestyle), Nordonia’s Anthony Perrine (4th, 85 kg, Cadet Freestyle), Brecksville’s Marco Regalbuto (6th, 58 kg, Cadet Freestyle), Massillon Jackson’s Victor Marcelli (6th, 76 kg, Cadet Greco), Lakota East’s Matt Spaulding (7th, 125 kg, Cadet Freestyle), Bedford’s Jordin James (7th 58 kg Cadet Greco) and St. Edward’s Dakota Howard (8th, 100 KG, Cadet Freestyle) also grabbed All-American honors.
For Carr, winning in freestyle at the Cadet level also earned him a spot on the U.S. National teams for the World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, from Sept. 13-18.
A second-place finisher at Nationals a year ago, the honor wasn’t lost on the incoming junior at Perry.
“This means the world to me,” said Carr, after winning in the field house at the University of Akron. “Ever since I got second here last year, it helped me push hard. To finally get the job done and finally be on the U.S. team is amazing. I trained so much harder to be here.”
A win over Illinois’ Trevell Timmons put him with Penn State recruit Joe Lee of Indiana in the finals. Carr never let off the gas in the best-of-three format, winning 9-5 and 4-1.
“Finishing second last year made it sweeter,” Carr said. “Getting closer to God, the people I’m surrounded by, eating better, eating healthy, it’s been an awesome year.”
Decatur rolled through his bracket with a 12-7 semifinal win over New Mexico’s Real Woods before falling to Arizona’s Roman Bravo-Young 13-2, 8-2.
He has already heard from Bravo-Young that he’ll be headed to the Pan-American Championships in Lima, Peru on July 1-3 and is ecstatic.
“I wrestled four kids ranked,” Decatur said. “It’s pretty sweet to say I’m an alternate for the world team. Roman is a great competitor. It’ll be really cool to go to the Pan-Ams. I’m really pumped to compete.”
D’Emilio also has a chance to go to either Georgia or Peru should Minnesota’s Aaron Cashman not be able to answer the call.
Jack Gillespie, Elyria HS assistant coach, has been named USA Wrestling's National Developmental Coach of the Year.
NWCA Sect. 2 Assistant coach of the year:
Chris Chidlaw , Elyria HS
NWCA Coach of 2016 for Ohio:
Todd Haverdill, Brecksville HS