COLUMBUS: Three area wrestlers will be seeking their second consecutive state wrestling championships Saturday night at Value City Arena in the Schottenstein Center.
Perry junior Jose Rodriguez, St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Aaron Adkins and Rootstown senior Travis Linton each won quarterfinal and semifinal matches Friday to secure a spot in the finals. Rodriguez will compete in 113 tonight in Division I, Adkins at 182 in Division II and Linton in 182 in Division III.
“It is cool walking down the halls,” Linton said in regards to being a marked man. “I catch people looking at me and I hear people saying ‘Hey, that is Linton. That is the kid who won state last year.’ It is a cool feeling being the guy everybody is going after. I liked being the underdog, but it is kind of cool being on top too. It can be nerve-racking too because all the pressure is on you.”
Linton (48-2) pinned Delta’s Ryan Patchin in 5 minutes and 16 seconds in a semifinal. His father, Lance, and brother Garrett were in his corner. His mother, Tracey, and brother Cody were in the crowd cheering him on.
“It has been them two [Lance and Garrett] in my corner since I was in kindergarten,” Linton said. “They know me better than anyone else when I am out there.”
Rootstown’s Zack Ladich (45-7) won his semifinal match to advance to the Division III 152-pound final.
“Best friends in the finals, that is about as good as it gets,” Rootstown coach Craig Wise said. “I think the only thing better than that would be to get a couple of titles.”
Norwayne junior Kollin Moore upped his record to 50-0 at 160 and will compete in the 160 final in Division III. He was a state runner-up last year with a 55-1 record.
“This is what I worked all year for, to come back to the state finals,” Moore said. “I have a really tough kid in the state finals again this year. Being more prepared and leaving it all out there will be key.”
Manchester senior Jacob Hanzel beat Dayton Christian’s Nate Jackson 4-3 in a semifinal to advance to the Division III final at 285. Hanzel did not place last year at state.
“It is great feeling going out there,” Hanzel said. “I have been working hard. [Manchester graduate and assistant coach] Nick Hooper has been training me these past two years and I couldn’t be here without him. He did it [in 2007 at 215 pounds in Division III] and I want to follow and be the next state champ from Manchester.”
Black River senior Sebastian Vidika (42-1, 106) also advanced to a Division III final.
Adkins (45-5) topped Claymont’s Colt Crall 9-1 in a Division II semifinal.
In Division I, Perry clinched the state team championship Friday and advanced seven wrestlers to the finals. The Panthers enter today with 163 points.
Two Walsh Jesuit wrestlers won Division I semifinal matches to advance, sophomore Alex Mackall (120, 39-7) and senior Michael Kostandaras (138, 39-6).
Mackall, an Austintown resident, beat Cincinnati LaSalle’s Corey Shie 17-9 Friday.
“I feel out of this world,” Mackall said. “This feels awesome. Last year my goal was to be in the finals. I didn’t accomplish it. I feel a 100 times better making it this year.”
Mackall will face Perry senior Jake Newhouse (40-9) in the 120 final.
“This will be the third time meeting him this year,” Mackall said. “I am actually really good friends with Jake. It is going to be fun to wrestle him in the finals. We both have worked hard for this. May the best man win.”
Mackall won over Newhouse in the two earlier meetings.
Kostandaras, a Brecksville resident who formerly lived in Richfield, beat Marysville’s David Sparks 6-5 Friday. He will face Perry junior Nick Steed (29-5) in the 138 final.
“I am going with the mindset that getting a W is a W,” Kostandaras said. “Everyone is going to wrestle you tough. This is the state tournament. It is Ohio and everyone is going to show up to win. I just gotta do whatever it takes to get the W.”
Kostandaras beat Steed once this year.
“The only time we have ever wrestled was last week at district,” Kostandaras said. “I pulled away a 3-2 victory there. . . . I am looking forward to the rematch. He is a tough opponent. It will be fun.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.