By Dan Gilles
And then there were four.
When the dust settled Saturday night after a tough Division I District Wrestling Tournament at Cleveland State University’s Woodling Gym, four area wrestlers – Westlake senior Logan Paul, St. Edward senior and Bay Village native Markus Scheidel, and North Olmsted juniors Alex Belaia-Martinouk and Moose Al-Najjar will get the chance to compete in the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Those four are the only state qualifiers from the nine area high schools. No one made it out of Divisions II or III.
Scheidel led the way for the area quartet by winning the 152-pound district championship with a 13-1 major decision over Oregon Clay’s Damon Dominique. He punched his ticket to state by pinning Fremont Ross’ Peyton Geary in 2:52 in the semifinals.
Scheidel (34-4), who was a state runner-up last season at 145 and placed fifth as a sophomore at 125, will meet New Carlisle Tecumseh senior Chuck Buchanan (42-9) in Thursday’s first round.
Paul (34-2) became a state qualifier for the second-straight year when he pinned Perrysburg junior Kadin Llewellyn in 4:44 in the 182-pound semifinals.
Paul will go into state as a district runner-up after getting pinned by St. Edward senior Domenic Abounader in 5:12. He’ll meet Loveland junior Gunner Lay (42-2), who placed fourth in the state at 112 two years ago, in the first round Thursday.
Belaia-Martinouk (41-6), another 182 pounder, earned his way to the state tournament for the first time in his career when he edged Llewellyn, 3-2, in the consolation semifinals. He wound up placing third at districts when he beat Oregon Clay’s Edward Silva by default.
Belaia-Martinouk will meet Cincinnati Moeller junior Quinton Rosser (27-8) in the first round Thursday.
Al-Najjar (25-15) also became a first-time state qualifier when he edged Amherst junior and Southwestern Conference rival Dennis Breeding in overtime, 2-1, in the consolation semifinals. He lost to St. Ed’s junior Gabe Dzuro, 7-3, in the third-place match.
Al-Najjar will meet Ashtabula Lakeside junior Kyle Conel (47-0) in the first round Thursday.
Division II Bowling Green District: No one from the three area schools – Bay, Fairview and Rocky River – advanced to the state tournament. In fact, only one area wrestler reached the podium – Bay senior 120-pounder Adam Tepper.
Tepper came one match away from qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in his career. However, he had to settle for sixth place in the 120-pound weight class, which is not even considered a state alternate.
Tepper (41-6) advanced to the semifinals, but lost to Milan Edison’s Dalton Howard – who wound up winning the district championship – 9-3 to fall down to the consolation bracket.
Needing one win to finish in the top four, which would have guaranteed his spot in Columbus, Tepper lost, 5-2, to Parma Padua’s Tony Becker. Becker wound up placing third.
Tepper’s dismal final day concluded by getting pinned by Lexington’s Brandon Leynaud in 3:34 in the fifth-place match.
Division III Garfield Heights District: Lutheran West’s Tim Mecklenburg, a sophomore 120-pounder, and Andrew Liese, a senior 170-pounder, each earned a spot on the podium. However, neither will be going to the state tournament this weekend.
Mecklenburg is considered a state alternate by placing fifth in his weight class. He pinned Girard’s Zane Chase in 4:17 in the fifth-place match.
Liese was defeated, 7-2, by Mapleton’s Travis Pickering. Pickering, ironically, was Liese’s first-round opponent on Friday.
Mecklenburg advanced to the semifinals, but dropped a 7-5 decision to Massillon Tuslaw’s Dion Perez – the eventual district runner-up – and drop down to the consolation semifinals.
Mecklenburg (38-8) ran into Patriot Athletic Conference rival Mike Hozan from Black River in the match to decide to goes to Columbus. Unlike the PAC championship match two weeks ago, it was Hozan who defeated Mecklenburg, 3-0, to punch his ticket to state.
Mecklenburg qualified for the state tournament as a freshman last season, but did not place.
Liese (31-11) was hoping for his first state tournament berth, but had to try to do it the hard way after getting pinned in his opening match by Pickering in 5:15.
Liese won three matches to get to the consolation semifinals, one match away from state. However, he was handed a 14-1 major decision loss by Crestview’s Matt Hardenbrook. Hardenbrook wound up placing third.
WESTLIFE STATE QUALIFIERS (4 total: 4 Division I)
DIVISION I (4)
182 – Logan Paul (12), 2nd at district, 2nd at sectional, 34-2
North Olmsted (2)
182 –Alex Belaia-Martinouk (11), 3rd at district, 3rd at sectional, 41-6
195 – Mustafa Al-Najjar (11), 4th at district, 3rd at sectional, 25-15
St. Edward/Bay Village (1)
152 – Markus Scheidel (12), 1st at district, 1st at sectional, 34-4 (12:I-145-2nd, 11:I-125-5th)