COLUMBUS: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy doesn’t have quite the same mystique it had in last year’s state wrestling tournament.
A year ago, CVCA sent eight kids to this tournament, as it had in 2012 . Four-time state champion Nathan Tomasello was included in that mix each year and entered as nearly a lock to win his weight class, leading a strong group of wrestlers and allowing CVCA blue to blanket Value City Arena.
But this year is different. Tomasello is gone (although he still wrestles in Columbus for Ohio State). And the numbers are gone — the Royals have only three wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament, in part because of some weigh-in and injury issues before the district tournament.
The CVCA contingent is down to senior Tyler Maclellan (195 pounds), senior Jeff Hojnacki (152 pounds) and junior Andy Dobben (152 pounds).
All three advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals and are wrestling in an attempt to fill the void of CVCA’s heavy presence in Columbus.
“We definitely feel it,” said Dobben (33-9), who won a 3-2 decision Thursday and overcame a poor second period to triumph in overtime. “I do [feel more pressure] because our program is so rich in tradition. I’ve never been to [the state tournament] with less than eight guys. It’s different, but we need to show that no matter how many people we’ve got down here, we can still compete.”
Maclellan (36-5) won by major decision 15-3, scoring many of his points in the second and third periods. Maclellan’s strength has been his endurance. Dobben said Maclellan is wrestling the best he’s ever seen, calling him a “beast.”
Maclellan now gets a chance to redeem an earlier loss this season, as he’ll face Lexington junior Bailey Faust in the quarterfinals. He credited his second-half turnaround to this season to that loss.
“I started to turn it on the second half of the season,” Maclellan said. “I’ve been looking forward to this match all year and I’m ready for it.”
Hojnacki (25-7) won by a 3-2 decision to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals as well. All three are looking to keep CVCA in the gym through Saturday night.
Other Division II
St. Vincent St. Mary sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament and will have four in the quarterfinals, including senior Aaron Adkins (43-5), who’s the defending state champion at 182 pounds.
Tallmadge junior Terrell Grant (39-8) won by major decision 10-2 at 106 pounds. Northwest freshman Hunter Kosco (42-6) pinned his man in 1:41 to advance as well. Should they both win their quarterfinal matches, they’ll face one another in the semifinals.
Field sophomore Cory Simpson (33-5) won on a 16-1 technical fall. Crestwood junior Nick Wrobel (15-6) won a close match 3-2 and will either face Dobben or Minerva junior Dalton Hartshorn (49-4) in the semifinals in the 145-pound weight class. Also at 145 pounds, Coventry junior Zack Lake advanced on a 7-6 victory.
Rootstown senior Travis Linton (46-2) won by pin in 2:47 at 182 pounds. Linton won a state title last year at 170 pounds. Also from Rootstown, senior Zack Ladich (43-7) won a major decision 13-2. Norwayne junior Kollin Moore continued his undefeated season (48-0) with a 25-10 technical fall victory. From Manchester, senior Jacob Hanzel (33-3) recorded a pin at 1:56 and sophomore Joey Bowen (41-6) won 4-2 at 106 pounds.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.