Olentangy Liberty wins district championship


By Ben Stroup - bstroup@delgazette.com

Delaware County was well-represented at last weekend’s Division I Central District Tournament in Hilliard and, although some of the local standouts knocked each other off on their battle through the brackets, this week’s state showcase will still have a ton of local flavor.

Liberty, which won the tourney with a dominant 236.5-point performance, had 10 wrestlers punch tickets to the OHSAA State Championship — a three-day meet set to get underway Thursday afternoon (March 9) inside The Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein’s Center.

The Patriots were powered by their three district champions — Brakan Mead, and Kyle and Trevor Lawson.

Mead pinned Olentangy’s Jacob Sherman in 3:35 to win the championship match of the 113-pound division. Kyle Lawson, meanwhile, took top honors at 160 by default while Trevor Lawson handled Licking Heights’ Josiah Harrell 4-1 at 170.

Delaware Hayes’ Max Wright also won a district championship, doubling up Lancaster’s Stephen Deluse 6-3 at 195 to earn a top seed at the state meet.

Like Sherman, Liberty’s Jordan Rosselli (120), Connor Brady (152) and Mike Ezenekwe (220), and Hayes’ Zach Williams (126), made it all the way to the championship matches of their respective divisions before falling and settling for runner-up honors and No. 2 seeds at states.

And that’s just a touch over half the Delaware County wrestlers who earned a chance to compete for state titles with solid district performances.

Others included Liberty’s Blake Saito (third at 106), Big Walnut’s Bailey Munday (third at 120), Liberty’s Zach Furnas (third at 138), Liberty’s Trey Grenier (third at 145), Orange’s Logan Broskie (third at 160), Liberty’s Cole Fitzpatrick (third at 182), Orange’s Bryce Houston (third at 220) and Olentangy’s Xander Gore (fourth at 145).

Hayes’ Carter Davidson (182) and Liberty’s Davin Lambert (285) are on the outside looking in, but finished fifth in their respective weight classes to earn spots as state alternates.

Hayes and Olentangy finished tied for seventh in the final team standings, each closing with 64 points, while Orange finished 12th with 53.5 and Big Walnut closed tied for 22nd with 22.

Update: March 9, Liberty makes statement at states

Considering all Olentangy Liberty has accomplished this year, its stellar showing on the first day of the OHSAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament Thursday at OSU was hardly a surprise.

Expected or not, though, it was pretty darn impressive.

Six Patriots won their first-round matches, including all four of their returning state placers.

Senior Kyle Lawson (160) led the way with the most convincing win of the six, pinning Findlay junior Dru Hernandez in just 1:15 to keep his dominant stretch of state showings alive and well.

Lawson’s never done anything but win at the state tournament. The three-time defending state champ won two titles in Division II (at 138 in 2014 and 152 in 2015) and, after transferring to D-I Liberty, took top honors in the 160-pound division last year. He’s now 13-0 in state tournament matches.

He’ll look to make it 14-0 when he takes on Wadsworth senior Cody Surratt, a 5-0 first-round winner, in today’s championship quarterfinals.

Liberty’s Trevor Lawson (170), Kyle’s younger brother, also won his first-round match. The junior, who finished second in the state at 170 a year ago, cruised past Mason junior Eric Vermillion 9-1. Next up, he’ll take on North Canton Hoover junior Luke Reicosky.

The Patriots’ Brakan Mead (113), who finished third in the state in the 106-pound division last season and second at 106 as a sophomore, is on track to get at or near the top of the podium for the third straight time.

The senior, who entered the state showcase with a 49-4 record, pinned Cincinnati LaSalle freshman Antonie Allen in 3:22 to punch his ticket to today’s championship quarterfinals. He’ll take on Elyria freshman Dylan Shawver, a 6-4 sudden-victory winner over Brecksville-Broadview Heights sophomore Gabriel Tagg — last year’s runner-up at 106.

Liberty’s other first-round winners included senior Zach Furnas (138), who held off Wadsworth sophomore Zain Tittle 8-6; senior Trey Grenier (145), who slipped past LaSalle senior Eric Beck 4-3; and sophomore Connor Brady (152), who handled St. Edward senior Larry Grapo 11-4.

Furnas will take on LaSalle senior Corey Shie, a two-time state placer, in today’s quarterfinals; Grenier will take on Dover senior Andrew Murphy, who finished eighth in the state at 126 last year, in his quarterfinal; and Brady, who finished fourth in the state last season at 132, will take on two-time state champ David Carr in today’s quarterfinals. Carr, a junior at Massillon Perry, won it all at 145 last March and took top honors at 138 as a freshman competing in Division III.

Hayes senior Max Wright (195), who entered the tourney with a sparkling 29-1 record, also kept his championship aspirations alive. Wright, looking to reach the podium for the first time, pinned Cleveland St. Ignatius junior Michael Drobnick in just 56 seconds to advance. He’ll take on Elyria senior Cameron King for the right to compete in a state semifinal.

Those who dropped first-round matches included Liberty freshman Blake Saito (106), who fell to Lakewood St. Edward sophomore Angelo Rini 5-2; Olentangy sophomore Jacob Sherman (113), who lost to Clayton Northmont freshman Andrew Knick 5-1; Big Walnut junior Bailey Munday (120), who lost to Elyria junior Brendon Fenton 9-1; Liberty junior Jordan Rosselli (120), who was edged by Whitehouse Anthony Wayne senior Cody Moosman 3-2; Hayes sophomore Zach Williams (126), who lost to Wadsworth sophomore Michael North 20-3; Olentangy junior Xander Gore (145), who lost to Kettering Fairmont freshman Nevan Snodgrass 5-3; Orange senior Logan Broskie, who lost to St. Edward senior Michael Carpenter 8-6; Liberty senior Cole Fitzpatrick (182), who lost to St. Edward senior Tyler Stepic 16-4; Orange junior Bryce Houston (220), who was doubled-up by Cincinnati Walnut Hills senior Quinton Mincy 4-2; and Liberty senior Mike Ezenekwe (220), who fell to Cincinnati Northwest senior Michael Carter 3-1.

Saito, Rosselli, Broskie, Houston and Ezenekwe all won their consolation matches to stay alive.

Update: March 10

After a solid first day, Delaware County standouts continued to shine during the second day of the OHSAA Division I Individual State Wrestling Tournament Friday at OSU.

Liberty seniors Brakan Mead and Trey Grenier grabbed the headlines, earning spots in today’s championship finals with solid semifinal wins.

Mead (113) is back in a championship match for the first time since finishing second in the 106-pound division back in 2015.

The soon-to-be three-time state placer beat Elyria freshman Dylan Shawver 5-3 in the quarterfinals before handling Mentor senior Parker Brunkala 7-1 in the semis to punch his ticket to today’s final.

He’ll take on Lakewood St. Edward freshman Bryce Hepner for the right to stand on the top of the podium. Hepner beat Central Crossing’s Zach Collins 10-4 in his semifinal match.

While Mead cruised in two of his three tourney matches, Grenier (145) has had to battle in all three of his.

After beating Cincinnati LaSalle’s Eric Beck 4-3 in Thursday’s opener, Grenier earned a hard-fought 2-0 quarterfinal win over Dover senior Andrew Murphy and an even more thrilling 5-4 semifinal decision over Fairfield senior Sam Meddings. He’ll take on Dublin Coffman’s Dom Demas, a three-time state placer and former state champ at 138, in today’s final.

Other area standouts in the hunt for top-three finishes include Hayes’ Max Wright (195) and Liberty’s Jordan Rosselli (120), Connor Brady (152), Kyle Lawson (160), Trevor Lawson (170) and Mike Ezenekwe (220).

Wright won his first two matches of the tournament in dominant fashion. He took care of Cleveland St. Ignatius’ Michael Drobnick with a first-period pin in Thursday’s opener before cruising past Elyria’s Cameron King 12-2 in Friday’s quarterfinal.

The senior, who entered the tourney with a 29-1 record and guaranteed his first trip to the podium with the quarterfinal win, fell to Macedonia Nordonia’s Anthony Perrine 5-3 in the championship semifinals. He could still finish as high as third with a couple more wins, but will have to beat Brunswick’s Aaron Naples in today’s consolation semifinals to earn that chance.

Rosselli, who lost in Thursday’s opener, won all three of his consolation matches, including two on Friday, to stay alive. He beat Fairfield’s Jabari Thomas 6-3 to advance to today’s consolation semifinals and a date with Austintown-Fitch’s Gus Sutton.

Brady lost to two-time state champ David Carr (Massillon Perry) in the championship quarterfinals before bouncing back with a pair of pins to move through the consolation bracket. He’ll wrestle Oregon Clay’s Kevin Contos this morning for the right to compete in the third-place match later in the day.

Kyle Lawson, a three-time state champ, was stunned by Wadsworth senior Cody Surratt 3-2 in the championship quarterfinals. He recovered from his first loss in state competition quite well, though, winning a pair of consolation matches in impressive fashion. He’ll wrestle Cincinnati Elder’s Ti’Ric Evans in today’s consolation semis.

Trevor Lawson won his championship quarterfinal, knocking off North Canton Hoover’s Luke Reicosky 7-1, but lost a tough semifinal to Massillon Perry’s Emil Soehnlen 3-1 to get bumped into the consolation bracket. He’ll wrestle Barberton’s Gary Wokojance in the semis.

Ezenekwe, finally, won three straight consolation matches after falling in Thursday’s opener. The senior beat Ashtabula Lakeside’s Parker Meaney 10-3, Elder’s Antonio McCloud via a first-period pin and Olentangy Orange’s Bryce Houston 5-2 to keep his hopes of a top-three finish alive and well.

He’ll take on North Canton Hoover’s Dillon Smith in today’s consolation semi. Houston, meanwhile, who won a pair of consolation matches after a first-round setback, will wrestle Dublin Scioto’s Brian Zimmerman in today’s seventh-place match.

In other action, Liberty’s Blake Saito (106) went 1-1 to earn a spot in today’s seventh-place match against Louisville’s Andy Graham, the Patriots’ Zach Furnas (138) lost a pair of matches to end what was a stellar career as a Patriot and Orange’s Logan Broskie (160), the program’s all-time wins leader, fell in the second round of the consolation bracket.

Update: March 11

Second chances aren’t guaranteed. They’re earned.

Olentangy Liberty’s Brakan Mead got his by earning a spot in the 113-pound championship at Saturday’s OHSAA Division I Individual State Wrestling Tournament at OSU … and he took advantage of it.

The senior, who finished the year with a 53-4 record, scored two points with a first-period takedown and held on to top Lakewood St. Edward freshman Bryce Hepner 2-0 to win his first state championship.

“I hit an inside cradle, he kind of kicked his leg back and I rolled into what we call a cow catcher,” Mead said. “If I would have swung him on his back, he would’ve been done, but he got out of it somehow.”

Hepner battled the rest of the way, but Mead, who finished third last year and nabbed state runner-up honors as a sophomore, both at 106, had an answer for every attack.

“It feels awesome to be a state champ,” Mead said. “You know, I’ve been here a couple times and it hasn’t worked out in my favor, but every year I learned a little more. I felt comfortable on the stage.

“Being a state champ, it’s something that you dream about since you’re eight, nine years old coming to the state tourney with your dad, holding his hand so you don’t get lost. This place feels huge when you’re eight, then you get here, get on the mat with 20,000 people … this is home.”

Liberty coach Mark Marinelli said Mead just did what he does best on the big stage: compete.

“He likes to wrestle and he’s not afraid of anyone,” Marinelli said. “He wanted this one bad and did what he had to do to get it.”

Mead was one of two Patriots to reach the finals. The other, senior Trey Grenier, outlasted three tough opponents on his way to Saturday’s championship showdown with Dublin Coffman’s Dom Demas — a match he dropped via a second-period pin to settle for state runner-up honors.

The top-three finish was Grenier’s second in as many seasons while Demas, also a senior, took home his second state championship with the win.

Other area state placers included Hayes senior Max Wright (third at 195), Orange junior Bryce Houston (seventh at 220) and Liberty freshman Blake Saito (seventh at 106), junior Jordan Rosselli (fourth at 120), sophomore Connor Brady (third at 152), senior Kyle Lawson (sixth at 160), junior Trevor Lawson (third at 170) and senior Mike Ezenekwe (fourth at 220).

Wright, whose only loss of the tournament came in the championship semifinals by a slim 5-3 margin to eventual state champ Anthony Perrine, a senior from Macedonia Nordonia, beat Springfield’s Joe Cochran by default in the third-place match.

“Max’s third-place performance is bittersweet to him,” Hayes coach Josh Heffernan said. “He had something to prove after last year’s state performance; so coming out with a first-round pin and finishing third was an amazing accomplishment, but his eyes were set on the title.

“That semifinal loss was crushing. He felt he was the best wrestler there, but came up short against Perrine, who he beat 3-2 earlier in the year. I was very proud of how he responded to it and finished strong. After the loss we talked about how such things can lead to future success.”


By Ben Stroup


Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.

Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.