By Dan Gilles
Of the four area state qualifiers who competed at last weekend’s 75th annual state wrestling tournament at Columbus’ Value City Arena, three of them were eliminated before earning a spot among the top eight wrestlers on the Saturday night podium.
The only one who did, Bay Village resident Markus Scheidel (Lakewood St. Edward), did so in style.
Scheidel (33-10), a junior 145-pounder, was one of eight wrestlers who reached the state finals for the Division I team champion Eagles. However, when the dust settled, he was one of the four wrestlers who lost his championship match, dropping a 3-1 decision to two-time state champion Anthony Collica of Solon.
St. Edward wrapped up its 27th team title, which it clinched Friday, with 223.5 points. However, the team missed its 2007 Division I record of 229 points, and a 4-4 performance in the championship round meant that matching Cleveland West’s large-school record of six individual champs set in 1951 couldn’t happen.
Scheidel, who also wrestled in the sectional (losing to Avon’s Zane Zeman) and district (beating Zeman) championship matches, was the projected runner-up in his weight class by noted prognosticators Brian Brakeman and Josh Lowe.
Scheidel, who placed fifth as a sophomore, reached Saturday’s big stage with a 44-second pinfall over Grove City Central Crossing’s Dez Hauber, a 6-1 win over Fairfield’s Jake Neyer, and a 4-3 semifinal win over Massillon Jackson’s Lucas Marcelli.
The other three state qualifiers – Westlake 160-pounder Logan Paul, North Olmsted 145-pounder Brian Brunner and Lutheran West 103-pounder Tim Mecklenburg – left Columbus without any hardware. In fact, both Paul and Mecklenburg’s tournaments were over by the first night.
Paul (35-12), a junior, lost to Cincinnati Elder’s Tyler Hardke, 6-4, and Westerville Central’s Zach Brown, 7-0, to go two-and-out.
“ Logan’s a great kid,” Westlake coach Mike Antonyzyn said. “He knows that this is a great learning experience for him. He’s just an outstanding kid. He’s got a 4.6 GPA. He knows the mistakes he made. He had a tough bracket, but we didn’t care about that.
“I think he learned a lot from it. He’s got a great attitude. He’s already talking about what he has to do to get back here and finish stronger.”
Antonyzyn believes that Paul will make it back to the state tournament as a senior.
“You watch, mark my word, next year, this kid will do a really good job,” he said. “He can do a really good job next season. I like the kid. He’s a top-notch kid. He’s a great kid to have in the room. You love to coach kids like him every day.
“I’ll take 14 like him over one state champion. I’ll take him any time. He’s gonna make us proud. There’s always next year, and he’ll start getting ready for it tomorrow.”
Mecklenburg (36-7), a freshman competing in Division III, was pinned by Marion Pleasant’s Zon Fields in 3:03 and was handed a 13-3 major decision by Archbold’s Drew Coffey to prematurely end his first state tourney.
Brunner (32-8), a senior, actually survived to wrestle on Friday morning with a win in the consolation bracket. However, he bumped into Avon’s Zane Zeman – a defending state runner-up – in a match to determine placement.
Despite Brunner’s best efforts, Zeman rallied for a tough 7-6 victory to deny Brunner a spot on the podium.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match and a good match,”Brunner said. It’s going to be a good match. I wrestled Zane this year, but I was sick when I did and I didn’t look too good. I definitely think I can wrestle better than that against him and give him a good match.”
Brunner lost to Marysville’s Chase Boyd, 8-6, in the first round, but came back to pin Miamisboro’s Robert Kersey in 2:33.
“I definitely choked in my first match,” Brunner said. “I should have won. But, I had to put that aside and focus on wrestling back. It’s my senior year. I’ve got nowhere else to go from here, so I’ve just got to keep moving forward. This is my last season as a high school wrestler, so I’ve got to go all out.
“It was definitely a good feeling to get back (to state) as a senior, especially getting through that tough district at Ashland. That was probably the toughest district I’ve ever been through. It’s definitely a big accomplishment just getting here because of all the kids down there were high-level wrestlers.”
North Olmsted coach Kerry McWoodson was proud of Brunner.
“Brian’s a tough competitor,” he said. “He’s been great for us all four years, averaging 25-30 wins each year. I feel pretty confident having him here. I would have liked for him to get past that first match, but we’ve been here before.
“He’s a great competitor and a great wrestler, and I’m really proud of him.”