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State wrestling will have a different feel

COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School State Wrestling Tournament was already going to be a different experience this year as the tournament moved from its traditional Thursday to Saturday format to Friday to Sunday.

But the coronavirus COVID-19 and the state government’s recommendation to limit spectators at sporting events will create an even more unusual atmosphere at the Schottenstein Center.

Each athlete was limited to four all-session tickets and each coach was permitted two all-session passes for family members.

There will be 672 wrestlers from 299 schools present at the state meet which mean upwards of 3,500 passes could be in circulation. No tickets will be available for the general public.

“I’m already getting texts from other coaches wanting to get more tickets,” United Local coach Ken Beaumariage said on Wednesday. “If athletes are eliminted early those passes they aren’t using might be worth a lot money to some people.”

Here are the area’s 20 state qualifiers:

Caiden Hart

Salem Quakers

Jr., 152, 34-5

Hart lands in Columbus for the first time and it is something he has been working at since he was 5.

“The sectional and district are so tough, that it’s a true honor to be out there with some of the best wrestlers in the state,” coach Andrew Hart said.

In a rare occurance, Hart will open with a fellow Columbiana County opponent in Skyler Lasure from Beaver Local. Hart missed out on Lasure at the Hoppel Tournament because of an injury and didn’t get a chance to face him at the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League tournament because Hart was wrestling at 160.

“Lasure is going to be a tough opponent and there’s a lot of stuff we will work on,” coach Hart said.

Gage Bickley

West Branch

Warriors

Sr., 152, 40-7

Bickley has settled in at 152 after toying with 145 this season.

“He didn’t do well at sectionals, but we got on him and he managed to avenge his losses at the district meet,” Dorris said.

Bickley has two returning state placers on his side of the bracket, so it will be a tough task.

“He’s going to have to take it one match at a time,” Dorris said.

InterMat has Bickley ranked 15th in the weight class.

Kenny Marra

West Branch

Warriors

Jr., 195, 45-4

There’s a benefit for coming out of the tough Alliance district in that you know you’ve already faced some of the best in the state.

“If you finish third at Alliance, you could probably place first or second at Claymont or some of the other districts,” West Branch coach Chris Dorris said.

Dorris said Marra is his most experienced wrestler and lives for events like the state tournament.

Marra is ranked third in the state according to InterMat, but has two returning placers on his side of the bracket.

Mark Emmerling

Beaver Local Beavers

Soph., 120, 32-11

Emmerling, an OVAC champ this season, returns to the state meet after qualifying as a freshman. His weight class is the only one across all division to feature two state champions from 2019 (Louisville’s Garrett Lautzenheiser at 120 and Perry’s Kyle Rowan at 106).

“Mark will benefit from his previous state experience this weekend,” Beaver Local coach Johnny McComas said. “Being there is not enough, he is ready to prove he is among the best. He needs to continue to stay in a solid position and he will make some noise in a tough bracket. He is peaking at the right time and wrestling with a lot of confidence. He is in for a fun weekend.”

Logan Ours

Beaver Local Beavers

Soph., 132, 33-5

Ours is looking to build on his sixth place finish at 120 pounds a year ago as a freshman. Ours is ranked third in the state according to InterMat Ohio and is looking up at Louisville’s Davin Rhoads and CVCA’s Matthew Williams, both out of the tough Alliance district.

His coach thinks he has what it takes to compete for a title if he relaxes and has fun.

“Logan is an attack minded wrestler and has an incredible ability to finish from any position,” McComas said. “He is physical, and clean with his technique. He is always in a solid position and will make any opponent pay for getting out of position. He believes in what he is doing and is confident through his preparation. He will push the pace for six minutes and force his style of wrestling on anyone he wrestles this weekend.”

Cole McComas

Beaver Local Beavers

Sr., 138, 37-5

McComas is one of six wrestlers in Div. II looking to become a four-time state-placer, but Beaver Local’s all-time wins leader (172) is looking for more. He’s been second at the previous three tournaments.

“Cole is such a consistent person in his approach to wrestling and life,” Johnny McComas said. “He has battled an injury but used every opportunity available to him to get healthy and put himself in a position to be at his best for this tournament. When you have had the success he has had during his career you understand what it takes to be the best and he takes that approach to everything he does. He has put himself in a position to reach his goals. His past state experience and his ability to win tight matches are going to pay off for him this weekend.”

He’s ranked second in the state according to InterMat Ohio behind St. Paris Graham’s Nick Moore.

Devon Salsberry

Beaver Local Beavers

Jr., 145, 36-9

Salsberry is Beaver Local’s lone state debutant this time around but has an experienced career with 92 total wins.

“With this being Devon’s first time on the state floor, staying calm and confident will be the key to success this weekend,” McComas said. “He is wrestling extremely confident right now, he is peaking at the right time, and he believes in himself. Devon is in a great position to be on the podium Sunday night. I am excited to see what the weekend has in store for him.”

Salsberry has a winnable match right out of the gate with Hamilton Ross junior Sean Beltran. That could set him up for a shot at the podium.

“Devon is explosive, he can quickly put his opponents in bad positions,” McComas said. “Devon is dangerous in all positions and is never out of a match.”

Skyler Lasure

Beaver Local Beavers

Sr., 152, 36-6

Lasure is also one of six wrestlers in Div. II seeking to place four times at the state tournament. He was seventh at 120 as a freshman, fourth at 132 as a sophomore and sixth at 145 as a junior.

He opens the tournament against Salem’s Caiden Hart and could challenge for a high podium position.

“Skyler is a physical wrestler who can score in a multitude of ways,” McComas said. “He has incredible quickness and the ability and confidence to score in all three positions. He wrestles confidently and he always believes he can win regardless of the opponent.”

Lasure is ranked fourth in his class according to InterMat Ohio.

“Skyler’s previous state experience will be a huge asset going into this weekend,” McComas said. “He has the ability and track record of winning tight matches and always wrestles his best when the lights are the brightest. He looks forward to tournaments and competitions like this weekend. He will be at his best this weekend.”

Logan Krulik

Beaver Local Beavers

Jr., 160, 39-6

Krulik is back for the second time and is looking to shake things up in 2020.

“Logan qualified for the state tournament last season and was forced to medical default,” McComas said. “This sport is all about how you handle adversity and Logan understands that. This has made him hungry to get back to Columbus and give himself another opportunity to prove he is among the best. He has improved in every position. He has an incredible gas tank and the ability to wear his opponent out. He is smooth on his feet, always attacking, has a lot of fun competing, and has a style that is fun to watch.”

Krulik is ranked fourth in the state in this class according to InterMat Ohio, but the third-ranked wrestler (Ethan Pappas of Steubenville) failed to make weight during last week’s district meet and did not qualify for state.

Daniel Wirth

Beaver Local Beavers

Sr., 285, 30-6

Wirth qualified for state as a junior, but may be in a better position to challenge for a podium spot this season.

“Daniel has had a fantastic season,” McComas said. “He has had the opportunity to see a lot of great competition and beat some top notch guys. He is a high tempo heavyweight who scores a lot of points and keeps the pace up. He is great in the practice room and he loves to compete. He has continued to get better week after week due to a great work ethic. Danny is wrestling very confident right now. He believes in what he is doing and he is having a lot of success.”

Wirth is ranked eighth in the weight class according to InterMat Ohio and opens with an opponent with just eight matches under his belt this season.

Div. III

Michael Markulin

South Range Raiders

Soph., 120, 36-6

Markulin is back at the state meet for the second time in his career after finishing fourth at the Garfield Heights district.

“It’s always tough when you finish fourth because you get a district champion,” coach Levi Hively said. “He wants to build on what he did last year and he’ll have to work for it.”

Markulin gets 2019 113-pound runner-up Max Shore of Casstown Miami East in the opening round. Shore is ranked third in the state according to InterMat Ohio.

Anthony Czap

South Range Raiders

Sr., 220, 35-4

South Range’s wrestling team made it all the way to the state dual tournament this season and had 10 wrestlers qualify for districts. Unforunately only two Raiders made it through to state.

“We had six wrestlers get to the match where you had to win to make it to state,” Hively said.

Czap is one of the most consistent performers for the Raiders as he returns to the state meet after finishing third at Garfield Heights.

“He likes to wrestle upstairs and has a really strong lower body,” Hively said.

Hively was sixth at 220 as a junior and is the only returning placer on his side of the bracket.

Jacob Kamperman

Columbiana Clippers

Jr., 285, 26-3

Kamperman is in only his second year as a wrestler. He was encouraged to join the wrestling team as a sophomore by coach Doug Velasquez as a way to improve his skills on the football field,

“I said if you wanted to play in college, this wouldn’t hurt you,” Velasquez said. “When I met with him I told him about all the NFL guys who wrestled in high school.”

Kamperman almost skipped this season to focus on weightlifting, but his coach nudged him into finding a compromise so he could still wrestle.

“He has the size and ability to be very good,” Velasquez said. “He’s had a nice, solid season.”

Bodey Kiko

United Eagles

Sr., 220, 33-8

Like Kamperman, Kiko has only been wrestling two years. Officially United is only in its second year as a program, but Kiko is the second Eagle to make it to the state meet joining Charlie Smith who qualified for state in 2014 and 2015.

“I approached him in the weight room about wrestling because I knew he was strong and a super athletic kid,” United coach Ken Beaumariage said.

Kiko finished fourth at Garfield Heights, but Beaumariage said he has been impressed with the way he has developed in a short time frame.

“In 17 years I had not had a wrestler develop like him,” Beaumariage said. “He has his eyes on wrestling in college and who ever gets him will get a good one.”

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