COLUMBUS: The 76th annual state wrestling tournament featured several interesting sights and sounds over the weekend.
Nine wrestlers from the Akron area won state championships in their respective weight classes and another nine finished second.
Here is a sampling of a few tales from the mats and hallways within Value City Arena.
Irish two-time state champ
St. Vincent-St. Mary junior Aaron Adkins accomplished the rare feat of winning an individual state wrestling championship after helping his football team win a state title.
Adkins won his Division II wrestling title at 182 pounds Saturday by pin in 1:01 over Revere senior Stephen Suglio.
St. V-M coach Anthony Gary praised Adkins for persevering through injury.
“During the summer he worked his butt off,” Gary said. “He went down to Disney with the Akron Wrestling Club. He wrestled a lot of matches and lifted hard, and then he got involved back into football. The season that they had was pretty amazing. During the football playoffs, he burst his appendix. He had surgery and two weeks later he was playing in the state semi game and tackling the quarterback for a sack.
“That long season caused him to miss the Solon Tournament and he missed the Ironman [at Walsh Jesuit]. He was out of wrestling shape. For him to go through that type of adversity and come back in season late and put in the extra time is impressive. He worked very hard in the wrestling room.”
Gary also said Adkins (37-7) overcame a “little injury” at the district meet that caused him to injury default in the final.
Elite list of 25 wrestlers
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy senior Nathan Tomasello wasn’t the only wrestler to win his fourth state title Saturday when he won 14-5 over Carrollton senior Joey Miller at 120 pounds in Division II.
Lakewood St. Edward senior Dean Heil and St. Paris Graham Local senior Bo Jordan also won their fourth state titles. Heil won at 132 in Division I and Jordan won at 160 in Division II. The list of four-time state champions is at 25 now.
Three with perfect records
Tomasello (51-0), Waynedale senior Zack Nelson (58-0) and Waterloo senior J.J. Diven (50-0) all finished the season undefeated.
Nelson defeated Jamestown Greeneview sophomore Andrew Hoskins 6-1 in the Division III final at 126 pounds.
“Unbelievable, it still hasn’t set in yet,” Nelson said after celebrating with coach Louie Stanley. “It was 1-1 and I was like all right he’s just kind of stalling, holding on, hoping to go to overtime. I’d rather just get one takedown now rather than go to OT and I got it.”
Diven beat Archbold junior Logan Day 3-2 in the Division III final at 138.
“I hit a farmer’s carry, which I never hit, ever,” Diven said following a celebration with coach Brian Munger. “It’s my first one ever. I saw it there, I took the shot and it went to my benefit. I knew what I needed to do and I went out and did it.”
Tomasello, an Ohio State recruit, won his fourth title under coach Dave Bergen after winning the first three under former coach Don Lorence.
Tayse snags second title
Perry senior JoJo Tayse won his second Division I state title at 195 under coach Dave Riggs.
Tayse went 46-7 this year after going 42-2 last year.
Even with his success on the mat, Tayse said he plans to play football at Ashland University.
Perry sophomore Jose Rodriguez (42-2) won his first state title with a 6-5 win over Brecksville sophomore Austin Assad at 106 in Division I.
Massillon senior Ivan McClay capped his high school career with his first Division I state title at 126 following a 3-1 win over Hilliard Davidson junior Bobby Smith.
Tigers coach Gil Donahue said McClay (43-2) plans to wrestle at Notre Dame College.
2 Rovers earn state titles
Rootstown coach Craig Wise was a happy man after watching two Rovers, junior Travis Linton and senior Jake Moore, win Division III titles.
Linton (44-3) beat Fostoria senior Tony Reynolds 3-2 at 170. Moore (40-3) topped West Jefferson senior Corey Ginn 10-4 at 220.
Linton’s brother, Garrett Linton, sat in his corner with Wise. Garrett won a Division III state title last year at 195.
“Him winning a state title last year and coaching me through mine this year, it’s awesome,” Travis Linton said. “He’s been there the whole way.”
The Lintons and Moore are the Rovers’ only three state champions in wrestling.
“I was very confident,” Travis Linton said. “I wasn’t letting anyone stop me.”
Travis said a conversation with Garrett inspired him.
“He told me I don’t see anyone stopping you,” he said. “He was like, ‘You wrestled over the summer better competition than this, this is just another tournament for you.’ ”
Moore and Linton were filled with joy following their wins, as both hugged Wise and then went into the crowd and hugged family members. That kind of emotion was shared by all of the state champions.
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.