By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — In the past decade, one thing has become clear at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament, which begins today in Columbus: Place your bets on Miami County wrestlers.
Since 2005, Miami County has produced a total of 23 state champions, including one every year except for 2011. All of those individual titles have been won by Troy Christian (17), Covington (three) and Miami East (three). None of those three schools had ever won a state title prior to 2005, the year Miami East’s Ryan Gambill got things rolling for Miami County by winning the first of his three state titles.
In the 68 years prior to Miami County’s incredible run of state champs beginning in 2005, the county had produced a grand total of just three state champions — Troy’s Todd Darbyshire in 1982, Milton-Union’s Joe Creech in 1996 and Tippecanoe’s Nathan Jackson in 1999.
For the first time since Miami County was shut out of a state title in 2011, however, none of the statewide wrestling experts have any Miami County wrestlers listed as favorites to bring home a state title — although it does bear mentioning that most of the state prognostications were put together before Miami East sophomore Graham Shore stunned Dayton Christian’s nationally ranked wrestler Tommy Hoskins in the Division III district title match last weekend.
Miami County will be sending 11 wrestlers into this weekend’s state tournament — here’s a look at the 11 who will try to keep the county’s state title streak alive:
Jack Peura (Tippecanoe, 152 pounds): Peura (26-4, second at districts) will take on Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s Michael McIntire (49-10) in the opening round. The winner will face the winner of New Philadelphia’s Logan Dusenberry (33-13) vs. Toledo Central Catholic’s Richard Jackson (33-4). Peura placed sixth in the state at 145 pounds last year.
Logan Ferrell (Tippecanoe, 285 pounds): Ferrell (40-5, first at districts) will face Claymont’s Jaret Aubiel (21-12) in the opening round. The winner will face the winner of Canfield’s Mason Giordano (32-12) vs. Sundusky’s Jamez Young (33-8) in the quarterfinals. This is Ferrell’s first trip to the state tournament.
Jacob Edwards (Troy Christian, 103 pounds): Edwards (42-3, second at districts) will face Milton Edison’s Dylan Burns (50-8) in the first round. The winner will face the winner of Akron Manchester’s Zack Larue (22-2) vs. Zane Trace’s Jordan Hoselton (38-9) in the quarterfinals. Edwards was a state qualifier last year.
Graham Shore (Miami East, 113 pounds): Shore (43-5, first at districts) will take on Nelsonville-York’s Cody Wlech (32-11) in the opening round. The winner will meet the winner of Rossford’s Tanner Krotzer (41-5) vs. Apple Creek Waynedale’s Christan Wellman (50-2). Shore placed seventh at state last year. This is an absolutely loaded weight class — of the 16 wrestlers competing, five are former state placers.
Michael Sergent (Troy Christian, 120 pounds): Sergent (40-6, second at districts) will meet Galion Northmor’s Griffin Jenkins (35-15) in the first round, with the winner to face the winner of Delta’s Drew Mattin (43-5) vs. Jackson-Milton’s Terry Stockton (27-12). Sergent placed fourth at state two years ago. This, too, is a loaded weight class, with six former state placers, including Mattin, who won state at 106 pounds last year.
Alex Isbrandt (Miami East, 126 pounds): Isbrandt (40-6, third at districts) will face Steubenville Catholic Central’s Luke Coniker (36-4) in the first round. The winner will battle the winner of Genoa Area’s Damian D’Emilio (43-6) vs. Rootstown’s Tony Paolucci (39-7) in the quarterfinals. Isbrandt placed seventh at state last year (113 pounds). There are six former state placers in this weight class, too.
Zane Strubler (Miami East, 132 pounds): Strubler (35-11, fourth at districts) will take on Elyria Catholic’s Stan Bleich (32-2) in the first round, with the winner to face the winner of Caldwell’s Kolby Rayner (37-4) vs. Oak Harbor’s Dylan Mansor (36-8) in the quarterfinals. This will be Strubler’s first trip to the state meet.
Kamron Paulus (Milton-Union, 132 pounds): Paulus (35-3, second at districts) will face Wooster Triway’s Michael Yacapraro (48-2) in the opening round. The winner will face the winner of Chillicothe Southeastern’s Alex Gordy (47-1) vs. Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic’s Jadon Dix (31-17) in the quarterfinals. This will be Paulus’ third trip to the state meet.
Ryan Ford (Covington, 138 pounds): Ford (44-6, third at districts) will face Galion Northmor’s Jake Farley (21-7) in the first round. The winner will battle the winner of Wooster Triway’s Brian Persinger (48-3) vs. Tontogany Ostego’s J.D. McNett (42-10) in the quarterfinals. Ford placed third at state each of the last two years.
Chase Mayabb (Milton-Union, 145 pounds): Mayabb (41-3, third at districts) will face Mogadore’s Josh Tompins (35-9) in the first round. The winner will take on the winner of Nelsonville-York’s Colt Yinger (48-2) vs. Genoa Area’s Adam Bates (45-11) in the quarterfinals. This will be Mayabb’s third trip to the state tournament.
Ben Ferguson: (Miami East, 285 pounds): Ferguson (39-6, third at districts) will meet Oak Harbor’s Brandon Garber (40-6) in the first round. The winner of that match will face the winner of Orwell Grand Valley’s Austin Mathis (30-6) vs. Madison Plain’s Andrew Bevan (36-9) in the quarterfinals. Ferguson is a three-time state qualifier, including an eighth-place finish last year.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong