February 28th 2015 Wrestling: Division I sectionals at Mansfield Senior
MANSFIELD – The area’s three sectional champions made life miserable Saturday for their opponents — and anyone trying to capture the action on camera.
Photographers barely had a chance to aim their lenses and click, that’s how fast upper weights Jesse Palser, Brandon Myers and Tristen Weirich got “on and off” during Saturday’s Division I meet in Mansfield Senior’s Pete Henry Gym.
On a day when just over 50 percent of the 131 matches ended in pin (66), the quickest in any first-, third- or fifth-place match went to Weirich, the Ashland junior who matted Mansfield Senior’s Devin Marsh in 24 seconds for the 195-pound title.
Myers, a Mansfield Senior sophomore, followed Weirich on the mat and he was almost as fast on the draw. Myers pinned Findlay’s Dewey Lee in 37 seconds for the 220 title, stealing a little thunder from Tyger teammate Jesse Palser.
The state’s No. 1-ranked 170-pounder lived up to that acclaim as the only champion to pin three opponents. Semifinal foe Logan Barnett of Ashland lasted the longest (2:32) as Palser claimed a repeat crown.
“I’m still not a pinner; I’ve probably only got five in my entire career,” said Palser, who according to coach Billy Stevens has closer to15 as part of his 39-1 record this season. “I don’t go into a match thinking pin; the guy with the most points on the board is going to win. But I feel good on top. I’ll ride ’em and look for a turn. If I pin them, great.”
Palser lost in the ultimate overtime of his state title bout last season, so for him it’s about being able to go the distance — or beyond, not about who’s flashiest. That’s why he ran for six minutes immediately after winning his title Saturday, to augment the workout (if you can call it that) he got on the mat.
“Last year at state I went out like every match was my last match,” Palser said. “That was my philosophy today and hopefully it will carry over to next week (the district tournament at Cleveland State) and to three days at the state meet.”
He may not think of himself as a pinner, but this was the second time this season Salser pinned his way to a title. He also turned that feat at the season-opening Tom Ellis Classic at Madison.
“For that tournament, his goal was not to give up a point, and he didn’t,” Stevens said. “We’ve spent a lot of time in the off-season having him improve his top game. If he can ride anybody for 30 seconds, that’s more than he needs because I think he can take down anybody in the state, and I don’t think anybody can hold him down.”
Myers had spent all season in Palser’s considerable shadow, so it might surprise many to learn that his two first-period pins Saturday — he was on the mat a total of 94 seconds — put his record at 36-7.
“I’m just a sophomore; there are a lot of (experienced) names ahead of me,” said Myers after posting the first title of his varsity career. “When I drill with Jesse it really helps because he really pushes the pace.
“I listen to my coaches. They tell me to get in there, don’t fool around and get it over with as quick as you can.”
Myers is built like an outside linebacker, but he didn’t play football last fall. Judging by the grin on Zach Brumfield’s face, that’s going to change. Brumfield is both a wrestling and football staff member.
“Brandon’s almost a secret,” Brumfield said. “He played summer baseball and didn’t look like he does now. Physically development always happens between your freshman and sophomore year, but he’s really matured a lot.”
And Myers’ wrestling aptitude is growing as well.
“He’s cut back on his mistakes, which has made him a better wrestler,” Stevens said. “He’s just been in Jesse’s shadow.”
The top four placers at each weight earned district berths, with heavyweight runner-up Jacquille Fletcher and third-place 182-pounder Deondre Williams joining Palser, Myers and Marsh, who was 17-6 before his loss to Weirich.
Ashland’s champ will lead 10 district qualifiers for the Arrows, who finished third in Saturday’s nine-team field with 183 points behind Perrysburg (237) and Fremont Ross (184.5).
Taking runner-up honors Saturday for the Arrows were Dalton Eagle (120), Sid Ohl (145) and Trent Newlan (182), while Devin Goschinksi (152), Johnny Jackson (160), Logan Barnett (170) and Matt Fike (220) were third and Ben Helbert (113) and Matthew Taylor (126) claimed fourths.
Like Myers, Weirich’s sectional title was his first championship of the season. That doesn’t jibe with his 27-5 record and No. 15 ranking in the state.
“I’ve lost to a bunch of state placers in the finals of tournaments, so it hasn’t been too easy,” said Weirich. “I had been up at 220 for the last four or five weeks, so I definitely felt better back at 195. It’s tougher to pin guys at 220, but I have more strength at 195. I know it’s going to be tough at districts; there won’t be any easy matches. But by placing first here I’ll get a better seed and hopefully that will help me out.”
The only person standing between Weirich and titles at the J.C. Gorman Invitational and Ohio Cardinal Conference was Lexington’s No. 2-ranked Bailey Faust.
“The biggest battle has been getting him to know, ‘Hey, you’re good,'” first year Ashland coach Sean Seder said. “He has the physical tools, he has to have the mental part with it. He does, but then when he goes up against someone like Faust he’s afraid of making a mistake. He gets tentative and isn’t as aggressive as he should be. But he’s getting to the point where he’s thinking, ‘You know what, I’ve got to attack like they do.'”
All 15 of Saturday’s survivors now brace for what perennially is the toughest Division I district in Ohio.
“We’ll celebrate for the next 12 hours, but at the end of the day next week is at a different level,” Seder said. “If you make it out of that district, you have a good chance of placing at state. You have to go in knowing it’s going to be a battle. The guys who grind it out are going to get it done.”