COLUMBUS — They are who everyone thought they were and they never let anyone off the hook.
The Aurora Greenmen came to Columbus with fanfare and expectation, and they’ll wrestle in the Division II state tournament with finalists Dylan Fishback (152 pounds) and Colin McNamara (195).
Seven Aurora hopefuls came to Value City Arena and all seven hit the podium on a day when returning state champions dropped everywhere.
St. Paris Graham will win its 19th consecutive state title, but Aurora holds a seven-point edge over Canfield for second.
“It’s been a good weekend,” Greenmen coach Johnny Papesh said. “We got seven kids down here. All seven placed. We haven’t had a kid in the state finals since Ty Mitch in 2010. We almost had three, it was close, but it’s a school record. It’s pretty awesome.”
Aurora’s schedule has prepared it for the state tournament, and that showed when McNamara beat Bishop Hartley Griffin Rathburn 2-1 in the third overtime.
“McNamara in the finals is all you have to write,” the senior said. “I came here last year and lost in the blood round to place. This year, I’m peeking at the right time thanks to my coaches. Coach Papesh pushes everyone to be the best.”
That showed in Fishback’s match as well when the freshman hit a takedown so hard, Clyde’s Derrick Coleman had to default out of the semifinals.
Cool and steady, he has two-time runner-up Jeffrey Thomas of Graham in the finals. He beat Thomas 3-2 at the Grizzly Invitational Tournament.
“That match was pretty intense,” Fishback said. “I beat him by a stalling point. I didn’t get a takedown in the match. The difference in this match and that one is they’re probably going to take down and I think I can turn him.”
CVCA's Jacob Decatur (113) and Jordan Decatur (132) have that same if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix it attitude.
It’s made both two-time state champions and earned each scholarships at Ohio State and the adulation of many at Value City Arena.
The lighter Decatur beat Ostego’s Jake Manley 3-2, and the heavier brother pinned Steubenville’s Tyler Muldrew.
“It’s important to win No. 3,” Jordan Decatur said. “We’re coming with the mindset that this is our house. I don’t think we’re expecting anything but to win. We both come into the state tournament our senior years with different mindsets than we’ve had other years.
“When you’re starting off as freshmen and sophomores, you’re not really expected to do this much. Coming into senior year, you’re the top dog. You’re the big dog now. That’s important. He comes in as that top dog and next year he’s a little pup. It’s important to come in with a chip on his shoulder.”
The chip on the shoulder of Coventry’s Austin Hinzman (182) must have been gigantic because it pushed the senior to a 9-7 win over Norwalk’s Gabe Phillips 9-7.
He’ll have Canfield three-time state placer Anthony D’Alesio in the final.
It’s a final he dreamed about last season after getting hurt at district.
Hinzman still came to the state tournament as a junior and found the wherewithal to use it as motivation over the summer.
“I’m going to win it all,” Hinzman said. “I used the injury all season. The drive, I can’t even speak about it. It motivated me. I wanted to get back on the mat. It bugged me because I should have been on the podium if not for that injury. I started back up again and this is everything.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Kenneth Crosby (106) rounded out area Division II finalists, and Rootstown’s Ryan Boyle (195) was the only Division III finalist.
In Division I, Brecksville’s Ben Vanadia (195) and Brunswick’s Logan Heil (126) reached the finals.