In the final match of his high school career Saturday, Amanda-Clearcreek’s J.J. Tipton finished with both shoulders pinned to the mat. The senior, however, held his head high as one of five area wrestlers on the podium at the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
“Just walking out of that tunnel knowing that I was going to be on the podium for my last year, it’s like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders knowing that I went out on top in my last year,” he said. “It’s really made me a better person because it takes a lot of discipline.”
Tipton finished fourth in Division III’s 170-pound weight class, the highest of any wrestler in the area. His final defeat came at the hands of Nelsonville-York’s Zach Mays, the 2012 state champion in the class. After losing to Mays 4-1 at last weekend’s district, Tipton fought off Mays in a scoreless first period Saturday before being pinned with 1:14 left in the second.
“If you have one bad movement, they are going to capitalize on it and he capitalized on my mistake,” Tipton said. “I knew I could go out there and have a good match with him. I thought I could beat him but he stuck me.”
The Aces senior went 3-2 in his five matches, splitting two on the final day to finish his senior season 47-6.
Also wrapping up his career was teammate Jared Dilley. The senior joined Tipton on the podium as the sixth-place finisher at 138. Dilley entered the weekend hoping to place, but expectations grew after he pinned the defending state runner-up to reach the semifinals. Although he dropped his final two matches Saturday, he said his biggest takeaway from the event was placing with Tipton.
“I’m pretty excited I placed, I started off strong but I let the pressure get to me,” Dilley said. “I’m excited that I got sixth because that is better than I thought I would do coming into the weekend in this tough weight class. I’m satisfied.”
Joining the Aces pair as All-Ohio finishers were Lancaster sophomore Scott Deluse, Fairfield Union senior Stewart Oehlers and Bloom-Carroll sophomore Chandler Minnard. Deluse was sixth at 152 in Division I, Oehlers placed fifth at 132 in Division II, and Minnard repeated his seventh-place finish from 2012 at 120 pounds in Division III.
Minnard, who recorded his 100th career victory during the weekend, earned his place with an overtime victory against Black River senior Mike Hozan, a three-time state placer. Despite the victory, Minnard — who had hoped to better his 2012 finish — said he relied too much on one move and could have executed better on the weekend.
“It feels good, but it’s just not enough,” he said. “I have to be less cocky and be better. I have to want to work more moves. I was very stubborn this weekend, it just didn’t pan out for me.”
Bulldogs coach Allen Ankrom said he felt his sophomore took steps forward during his 52-6 season, and he expects him to be in contention for a title in 2014.
Showing drastic improvement from his first trip to the state meet was Oehlers. The lone Falcon qualifier went 0-2 during his junior season, but won two matches this year.
Like Oehlers, Tipton and Dilley finished their high school career on the podium. Amanda-Clearcreek coach Brian Brison said he was pleased that of his eight qualifiers, his seniors rose to the top.
“Seniors came in here and stepped up,” he said. “They know it’s their last chance to do this and they gave it all they had. Both those guys went above and beyond this weekend of what a lot of people thought they could do.