By Dan Gilles
Lakewood St. Edward senior 145-pounder and Bay Village resident Markus Scheidel reached the championship match for the second-straight year.
Unfortunately, for the second-straight year, Scheidel ran into Solon’s Anthony Collica. And, for the second-straight year, Collica defeated Scheidel to win the state championship, winning 3-1.
“I knew if I scored first, it would be big at the end of the match,” Collica said. “Three titles means a lot. The third title was way better than the first. There were a lot of nerves (Saturday).”
Scheidel’s runner-up finish was one of three area wrestlers who placed at last weekend’s 76th Annual Division I State Wrestling Tournament at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Of the four area wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament, Scheidel, Westlake senior 180-pounder Logan Paul (fifth) and North Olmsted senior 180-pounder Alex Belaia-Martinouk (seventh) finished in the top eight in their respective weight classes and ended their Saturday standing on the podium.
Scheidel, a Columbia University recruit, helped St. Ed’s repeat as the Division I state champions, winning their 28th state title in school history with 117 points. The Eagles held off a tough challenge from Massillon Perry (second, 105 points) and Brecksville (third, 99.5).
Scheidel (37-5) pinned New Carlisle Tecumseh’s Chuck Buchanan in 1:23, defeated Massillon Perry’s Tony Dailey, 11-4, and defeated Pickerington Central’s Aaron Yarger, 17-6, to reach the championship bout.
Scheidel also placed fifth as a sophomore, becoming a three-time state placer. He did not come down to the media interview room following his state championship loss.
Scheidel spoke to reporters following the Thursday session, discussing the Eagles’ decision to dye their heads blonde. Eight of the 11 state qualifiers, including Scheidel, were asked to go with the buzz-cut style after they dyed their heads following Tuesday’s practice. Needless to say, it made for a very distinct look.
“We’re having a great time out here,” Scheidel said. “People might get the wrong idea about us doing something cocky. If anything, it’s a team-only thing. We all got together and thought it would be something fun.
“We know nothing is going to be handed to us, especially this year.”
Paul (38-4) lost two matches to the same wrestler – Loveland’s Gunner Lay. The first loss came in Paul’s opening bout by a 12-8 score that coach Mike Antonyzyn believed Paul was cheated out of by the referees. The second loss came in the consolation semifinals by a 9-3 score where there was no doubt.
“Gunner’s a good wrestler and I think his style went well against mine,” Paul said. “He’s a short and stocky guy and is real powerful, whereas I’m quicker than most guys and can get around them. He had good balance. He knew where his body was and it was hard to manipulate him like other guys.
“It kind of takes the bitter taste away from the first loss. It sucks losing, but it assures me that I didn’t wrestle a terrible match. He’s just a better wrestler than me. Maybe with some film or something like that, I could beat him. But if I’m going to lose to a guy, it’s because they’re a better wrestler, not because I gave up or didn’t work hard enough.
“There’s nothing you can do at that point. If someone’s better than you, they’re better than you. He wrestled well and was able to get the win over me.”
Paul rebounded from both losses with huge victories. He defeated Boardman’s Joe Cordova, 15-8, on Thursday night, and then defeated Thomas Worthington’s Andrew Shackelford, 9-6, to clinch his spot on the podium Friday. Friday night, he pinned Belaia-Martinouk in 2:59 to reach his second date with Lay.
After losing to Lay, Paul rallied to defeat Hudson’s Danny Tiley, 3-2, to finish fifth and end his wrestling career on a winning note.
Paul becomes the first Westlake wrestler to place since Connor Dempsey placed fifth two years ago. Before that, Nick Lawrence was a two-time runner-up before a broken foot sidelined him for his senior state tournament.
“The second time, we didn’t get one takedown, even though we tried,” Antonyzyn said. “He asked me after the match if I thought he was a better wrestler, and I said no. He just played a better game that time. His strategy was a little better than ours. But you can’t take that away from Logan.”
Belaia-Martinouk also lost his opening match, dropping an 11-3 major decision to Cincinnati Moeller’s Quinton Rosser. But, the senior bounced back with two straight wins to clinch his spot on the podium, beating Columbus West’s Paco Quinonez, 7-2, and Massillon Jackson’s Charlie Dear, 8-6.
After getting pinned by Paul, Belaia-Martinouk defeated Parma’s Justin Halaska, 5-3, to finish seventh.
“I didn’t wrestle very well my first match,” Belaia-Martinouk said. “Being my first time at the state tournament, it kind of got to my head. I had trouble breathing. But the dream to place stayed alive through the consolation bracket.
“I picked up my first win, and I felt a lot better. I felt more comfortable. I kept battling, giving God the glory, and just wrestled hard every match.”
The dominating win over Quinonez prevented a two-and-out performance and kickstarted his run to the podium.
“I just knew that I could beat that kid, and I just had to get myself back into it mentally,” he said. “I came out like I wanted to and won the match, and it just lit a fire under me.”
Unfortunately, Belaia-Martinouk’s teammate Mustafa “Moose” Al-Najjar (195) went 0-2 in his first state tournament appearance on Thursday. He lost to Ashtabula Lakeside’s Kyle Conel, 9-7, and then was pinned by Mount Vernon’s Matthew Lybarger in 4:48.