St. Xavier senior Cole Jones is locked up with opponent Noel Carabello during the championship match for the 220-pound, Division I class, Saturday, March 14, 2015, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
COLUMBUS – Four matches. Four wins. No losses.
That makes you a state champion. It seems simplistic, something other than what it truly is: Highly difficult. It’s on the mind of every wrestler that qualifies for the state tournament. Win your first three matches and you get a spot on the big stage, rolling for the grand prize – a state championship.
The only local wrestlers going for first place were St. Xavier senior Cole Jones and Middletown Madison junior Nick Svarda. Both took home state titles.
St. Xavier senior Cole Jones won the Division I 220-pound state championship with a 3-1 win in overtime over Olmsted Falls’ Noel Caraballo. The win capped a 41-0 season. It’s the second straight season that St. X has had an undefeated state champion (Joe Heyob at 170 in 2014).
“It feels great. It feels like it all paid off,” said Jones, who will play football at West Point next fall. “It’s surreal. I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
In the match, Jones said he was a little upset because he wanted to “beat him worse but it ended up working out.”
Jones said he couldn’t think of a better way to end his high school career: “Undefeated, state champ,” he said through a grin.
“It’s great when you have a kid come in as a freshman and he just does what you ask…it shows,” St. Xavier coach Tom Wynn said. “It’s fun to see him when he’s in his own element, just getting it done.”
Svarda finished his season the only way he wanted, with his hand raised after winning the Division III state championship at 195 pounds. Svarda is Middletown Madison’s first state champion since Patrick Lanham in 2005. Svarda, who snuck into state with a fourth-place finish at districts, finished the season with a 42-3 record.
“It feels beyond amazing, I’ve been working for this my whole life,” Svarda said between deep breaths. “Visualizing is fun but actually getting out there and doing it, that’s the best feeling in the world.”
It was Svarda’s first appearance at state and he felt it.
“I was feeling really nervous before, going out there I had butterflies in my stomach,” Svarda said. “When I got there and started wrestling everything went away, I was completely focused. It felt right out there on the three mats in the finals.”
Outside the two champions, 18 other locals placed on the podium at state; 13 were Division I, three from Division II and two in Division III.
Mason and Moeller led the area in terms of podium presence. Mason, which sent seven to state, placed four. The Crusaders sent six to state and four found the podium.
Seniors Patrick Kearney (113) and Jordan Collins (182) led the Comets with fourth-place finishes, while sophomore Colin Schuster (120) took eighth and senior Sheldon Sims (220) placed sixth. Kearney’s a two-time state placer.
“It’s my senior year and I (hadn’t) been here yet,” said Mason’s Collins. “I’m really glad I got this far; it’s definitely been a great experience after all these years.”
For Moeller, senior Conner Ziegler (120) placed fourth, followed by junior Jack Meyer (220) in fifth and sophomore Brett Bryant (160) and junior Jacoby Ward (138) both took sixth.
Middletown senior 106-pounder Anthony Jagel wrestled an exciting final match, decided in the final seconds, but Jagel lost 5-4 and took home fourth place for the Middies. Jagel’s Middletown’s highest state placer since 1988, according to the OHSAA.
Sycamore junior Gary Traub (195) went home with fourth place, the same place his father, John, claimed for the Aviators at state back in his day. Traub’s 9-4 win to get him to the third place match was his 100th career victory, coach Jeremy Pletz said.
Traub said the experience was “awesome” and getting to place and earn experience will only boost his confidence for his senior campaign.
The other area placers in Division I were Harrison sophomore Cory Baird (106) with eighth, Loveland junior Jordan Paul (170) with eighth and Springboro junior Jonathan Floyd (285) was fourth.
From Division II, Western Brown freshman Brandon Lucas (106) placed fifth with a decisive 14-4 win in his final match. Ross senior Aaron Cox (120) took home seventh place with a pin in his final high school match. Norwood senior Nick Jackson (195) also had his hand raised in his final high school match, a 3-2 win giving him seventh place on the podium.
In the Division III bracket, Deer Park senior Austin Siemon (160) placed sixth and Bethel-Tate senior Aric Peters (120) placed fourth.
“I would have liked to place one spot higher. I was shooting for three the whole season; that’s just how it worked out, can’t do anything about it now,” said Peters, a two-time state placer. “It’s a load of fun. I just wish I would have worked a little harder … done a little more so I (could) make it up one spot higher at least.”
Even though it ended with a loss, Peters remembered his career fondly.
“I’ve had great teams, great teammates and great coaches,” said Peters. “I love the support from our town, from everybody. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”