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Ohio Wrestling Site handicaps a titanic struggle between the All-Time Walsh Jesuit and St. Edward Squads

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Without question, the two teams that have defined Ohio wrestling over the past twenty years are Lakewood St. Edward and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (with all apologies to St. Paris Graham).  The intense rivalry of these dynasties has been discussed thoroughly in prior articles.

A great suggestion was made on the forum that this site write an article featuring a mythical dual between the “all-time” Walsh and St. Edward squads.  As I began the article I realized I was simply not qualified to project match-ups between wrestlers who graduated before 1988- at which time I was in the sixth grade- as I don’t want to write about what I didn’t see.  So instead of a true “all-time team” dual, I’ve limited this dual to wrestlers who graduated between 1988-2007- you could say the respective “20 year teams” of Walsh Jesuit and St. Edward.  Therefore, there will be no Jim or John Heffernan, Greg Elinsky, Bubba Strauss, Don Horning, etc.

But, worry not, there are still a few good wrestlers left to choose from.

Selection of the Teams

Current Walsh Assistant Chris Deshon suggested that the best way to select the team is to allow non-seniors to be on the team, but a wrestler could only be placed on the team once.  I agreed this was the best way to do it.  In other words, if a wrestler was selected as a sophomore at 103, he could not be chosen as the 112 or 119 even though he wrestled those weight the next two years.  Also note that in some cases a wrestler may have been the best his senior year at his weight, but not be chosen, as the team would be stronger with him at a weight he wrestled a previous year- in other words, I’ve crafted the teams so as to create the strongest possible lineups.  As you will see, in many cases, it is virtually impossible to choose.

Lakewood St. Edward 20-Year Team

Brian Roddy (shown here after defeating Dustin Kilgore in the state finals) meets future 2x NCAA Champion Marcus Mollica in this dual. Photo Credit: Bob Tuneberg, Villager News

103- Mason Lenhard (Sophomore Year)
112- Mark Moos (Junior Year)
119- Eddie Jayne
125- Mark Jayne
130- Alan Fried- (Junior Year)
135- Ryan Lang
140- Lance Palmer
145- Yoshi Nakamura
152- Ryan Bertin
160- Sean Nemec
171- Brian Roddy (Junior Year)
189- Andy Hrovat
215- Matt Koz
285- Steven Terebeniec

A “second team” here would be nearly as good as the first team. Consider first the logjam between 130-140 lbs:  Mike Kulzycki, Alan Fried, Roger Chandler, Ryan Lang, Lance Palmer.  Five future NCAA All-Americans and three finalists (likely to be four eventually), three weights to put them in.  More problematic, we’ve got (in my view) the best Ohio wrestler of all-time in Alan Fried, four-time state champion (and NCAA 4th as a true freshman) Lance Palmer, and NCAA 2nd and 3rd place finisher Roger “The Hammer” Chandler (who posted one of the most dominant senior seasons in Ohio history) all at 140.

Here’s how I resolved it.  My thinking is you simply cannot exclude either four-time state champ from the lineup, especially given that both were Senior National Champions and have spectacular collegiate careers thus far- so Ryan Lang and Lance Palmer are in at 135 and 140.  I put Fried on the team at 130 his junior year, since- let’s face it- no one touches him his last two years. Fried actually ended up at 135 that year, but actually started the year at 125 lbs and just wrestled up for the team.  But in all honesty, I cannot comprehend Roger Chandler not being on this team, and would state that, despite having only a single state title, he was every bit as good as a senior as Lang or Palmer were.

The second logjam was 152, where Ryan Bertin and Gray Maynard are very close.  Maynard dominated all comers his senior year and was a senior national champ.  In the end, Bertin simply proved himself against more great people his senior year and was a bit more impressive in my view.

Yet another quandary presents itself in the lighter weights.  Right off the bat you’ve got three-timers Eddie Jayne and Mason Lenhard, both 119’s as seniors.  Then you have Mark Moos, a junior national champ and senior national champ over some great competition (he defeated Sam Hazewinkel and 2x NCAA Champ Matt Valenti to win his national titles). Both Lenhard and Moos were beaten several times their senior years (though both won senior nationals), and my sense is that Eddie Jayne was slightly better than either, so I picked him at 119.  Moos was unstoppable as a junior at 112- by far his best season- so it made sense to go with him at that weight.  That left Lenhard as the pick as a sophomore 103, where he was an unbeaten state champion.

But even the pick of Lenhard at 103 was far from easy.  Two other outstanding choices present themselves.  First, future NCAA All-American Mike Kulzycki as a sophomore at this weight was without question one of the best 103’s that did not win state- losing to perhaps the best 103 from Ohio ever in Shawn Smith of Massillon Perry.  Kulzycki would win state easily the next two years and finish as an All-American in college.  Second, the superb Jamie Clark I think is a tossup with either.  Remember he did beat David Taylor once this year, nearly did so in their other match and gave Logan Stieber all he could handle as well.  Had he won the state title over Sammy White, Clark would have been the choice here.  As it stands, Lenhard is the pick, but by the slimmest of margins.

Yet another extremely tough choice is at 160.  Though he never went to state before his senior year, Rick Hepp as a senior 160 is dead-even with Sean Nemec in my view.  Hepp won senior nationals and then won Junior Nationals following his senior season.  He would go on to be a two-time NCAA All-American.  Once again, it is a virtual tossup but Nemec is my choice.

In a virtual flip of the coin, I have gone with Brian Roddy over Sam Neider at 171.  Neider was a two-time state champ (plus a third) who won Senior Nationals and then was a two-time NCAA All-American for Northwestern in college.  Neider’s senior year was very dominant- pinning through Sectionals, Districts, and State- but frankly, the competition he wrestled that year down the stretch was very weak.  Neider did beat senior national champ Anthony Gary wrestling up a weight- but the fact is that Gary was never the same guy during the season that he was when a state or national title was on the line. He was a classic example of a guy who turned it up when he needed to- if they wrestled at senior nationals (where I watched him beat Lee Fullhart) Gary beats Neider handily in my view.  Neider is very comparable to Dustin Kilgore in my opinion. Roddy’s total dominance over nationally ranked guys like Corey Peltier, Rob Waltko, and Derek Foore cannot be ignored, nor can his big wins over New Jersey state champ Trongone or his shellackings of Dean Gaier.

Walsh Jesuit “20-Year” Lineup

With Walsh, there were more clear-cut decisions, but still some difficulties in lineup-juggling. First and foremost, Walsh has had four awesome 189’s.  One of these wrestlers was a three-time state champion (Jeff Knupp), two others went on to be NCAA All-Americans (Mike Pucillo and Victor Sveda- who was a “true” 189), and the last was (future Detroit Lion) Joey O’Neill.  I resolved this by making Pucillo the 189, Knupp the 215 (where he won state his sophomore and junior years) and, since Walsh has never had a heavyweight worthy of a Walsh all-time team, I made Victor Sveda the heavyweight.  I would bet that he could have beaten their next best wrestlers here- a couple of state qualifiers- quite easily.  I thought I could move Joey O’Neill down to 171 (a weight he could have made easily and he would have absolutely terrorized) but, at that weigh you have one of the all-time greats in Marcus Mollica.   You could possibly put Mollica on the team his junior year at 160, but then you have to bump Dave Rella.  I think you keep Rella over O’Neill, though I’m not 100% certain.

You have a similar logjam in the lightweights.  With Dan Leemaster, Adam Plouse, Josh Zupanic, Nate Gulosh, Brad Byers, Brent Thompson, and Dan Rooney (and that is the order I would rank them in)- you’ve got seven state champs, five weight classes.   In the end, I felt the best resolution was to put Plouse at 103, Zupanic at 112, Byers at 119, Gulosh at 125, and Leemaster at 130.   It was tough to see Brad Byers, a state champ and High School All-American, not on the team- in fact I initially had him on there but then went with Thompson instead.

Another outstanding wrestler who is tough to leave off the team is Scott Overholt.  Overholt dominated the 160 lb. weight class in Ohio his last two years, running the table over a number of very good state champions before being upset by Kevin Welsh in the state finals.  Overholt had beaten Welsh five times up to that match and Welch won Senior Nationals a few weeks later.  However, I think that another Senior National Champ, two-time state champ and three-time finalist Dave Rella, has to be the choice here.

At the end of the day, the Walsh Lineup I went with was:

103- Adam Plouse (Sophomore Year)
112- Josh Zupanic (Sophomore Year)
119- Brent Thompson
125- Nate Gulosh
130- Dan Leemaster
135- Sonny Marchette (Junior Year)
140- Jimmy Johnson
145- Clint Musser
152- Joe Heskett
160- Dave Rella
171- Marcus Mollica
189- Mike Pucillo
215- Jeff Knupp
285- Victor Sveda

I also considered the following much different lineup- this lineup would maximize the “star power” of the lineup but would have more of their wrestlers in the lineup before their senior year:

103- Adam Plouse (Sophomore Year)
112- Josh Zupanic (Sophomore Year)
119- Dan Leemaster (Junior Year)
125- Nate Gulosh
130- Sonny Marchette (Sophomore Year)
135- Clint Musser (Junior Year)
140- Jimmy Johnson
145- Joe Heskett  (Junior Year)
152- Dave Rella- (Junior Year)
160- Marcus Mollica (Junior Year)
171- Joey O’Neill
189- Mike Pucillo
215- Jeff Knupp
285- Victor Sveda

Note that, like St. Edward, ever wrestler on the final team was a state champion.  There are numerous other potential lineups for both teams that would look nearly as good.

135- Ryan Lang (St. Edward) vs. Sonny Marchette (Jr.) (Walsh Jesuit)

Frankly- I was never all that high on Ryan Lang through his junior year.  He seemed to lose about 5-7 matches (albeit on the nation’s toughest schedule) per year, and in my view, the weight classes he won in those years at state were fairly unimpressive.

All that changed starting with Fargo his junior year.  Though he was defeated by the late Chase Metcalf, Lang- with no previous national freestyle credentials to speak of- would emerge from his pool and stun heavily-favored Darryl Vasquez.  Vasquez was the first four-time state champion in single-division California as well as a former finalist at Junior Nationals. Just a few weeks earlier Lang had been pinned in under a minute (Todd MeNeely) and also beaten 14-0 (Metcalf) at Junior Duals. Winning Fargo seemed to be a springboard for Lang, as he found consistency for the first time- and by consistency I mean he destroyed every opponent, every match.  Seemingly able to find back points from any position, through a schedule which includes Ironman, Beast, State, Dapper Dan, and senior nationals- Lang had only a single match that I am aware of within eight points that year (his state final with Tommy Cunningham).  Since then, Lang has only continued his progression, finishing fourth and second in the NCAA Tournament for Northwestern the last two years- with a year of eligibility remaining.

A markedly different style was wrestled, just as impressively, by Sonny Marchette of Walsh Jesuit (note that for purposes of this article, Marchette is on the squad his JUNIOR year).   An explosive takedown artist, Marchette was a hammer who piled up takedowns at a rate perhaps never exceeded by any Ohio wrestler.  He developed almost a cult following due to his exciting style.  The fact that Marchette was a one-time state champ through his junior year could not be more deceptive- his freshman year, he lost to a three-time state champion in Eddie Jayne, his sophomore year he was a “lock” to win the title before he went down with an injury.  The fact is that Marchette possibly could have won a state title in seventh grade (103) and eighth grade (112) if Ohio allowed middle school wrestlers to compete at the high school level as some states do.  I remember well watching an eighth-grade Marchette simply destroy very tough state third place finisher Matt Grucella following Grucella’s senior year.

As impressive as Marchette was to watch, I feel the choice here has to be Lang.  Marchette was beaten his junior year by Jamarr Billman (and again his senior year, though he would avenge the loss on his way to winning Junior Nationals.  To me, Marchette was a wrestler who could completely dominate up to a certain (very high) level of competition, but seemed to have trouble winning the close bouts.  With the level that Lang was competing at his senior year, I have a tough time seeing Lang lose this match.  However, with the wild contrast of styles, I could see a completely unexpected result happening.

OWS Pick: Ryan Lang (St. Edward) dec. Sonny Marchette (Walsh) 8-7.  

St. Edward leads 3-0

140 lbs:  Lance Palmer (St. Edward) vs. Jimmy Johnson (Walsh Jesuit)

Lance Palmer is a wrestler who needs no introduction.  The second straight four-time Division I state champion St. Edward would field, Palmer’s stock has continued to rise following his brilliant true freshman year in which he placed fourth at NCAA.  As brutal a mat wrestler as there has ever been in this state, Palmer pinned all but one wrestler in the state tournament series his last TWO seasons.  Like Lang, he was a wrestler whose stature continued to grow throughout his career- as he eventually complimented his domination from the top position with a vastly improved offense from his feet.

Yet before there was Palmer, there was Jimmy Johnson- who may have been just as good from the top position.  Johnson was also a mat wrestling specialist who crushed opponents with his lethal “bar and half series”- he would have an arm bar on one side, a half on the other, and keep jumping from side to side, both getting tighter each time (eerily similar to what I see Logan Stieber dominating with today).  If you think that Palmer is a “shoe-in” over two-time state champion Johnson, consider the following:

- Johnson won 16-2 in the finals of High School Nationals.
- Johnson was named “Big Ten Freshman of the Year” following a season in which he defeated fellow Ohio legends Tony Pariano and Jon Vaughn (who were two and one years older respectively) among many other great wrestlers.
- The wrestler that Johnson defeated in the state finals his junior year, Shawn Enright, would go on to finish 4th at NCAA’s the next year (Johnson’s senior year).
- Johnson was the first wrestler to defeat Tim Dernlan in a classic match in the finals of the Medina Invitational Tournament.

This match is a complete tossup in my opinion.  I don’t think either would be able to turn the other (though it’s possible), but I also don’t think either can escape from the other.  Both are also better defensively than offensively, so I see the first period ending 0-0.  I think this one goes to overtime where the conditioning of the Palmer- the epitome of the word “driven”- wins out.

OWS Pick: Lance Palmer (St. Edward) dec. Jimmy Johnson (Walsh) 2-0 overtime.

St. Edward leads 6-0

145: Yoshi Nakamura (St. Edward) vs. Clint Musser (Walsh Jesuit)

Here we have an epic battle of takedown artist- but with very different approach to their craft.  If there was an all-time “most entertaining” team, Yoshi Nakamura makes it without question.  With an extensive background in judo, Nakamura befuddled opponents with a spectacular array of trips, throws, and other moves which are difficult to even categorize.  Nakamura was never beaten his last two years and very rarely pushed.  Because he never went to Fargo or Senior Nationals, however, it was somewhat difficult to put his greatness in proper perspective- though he certainly “hit the ground running” as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, where he would go on to be a two-time NCAA All-American (and a bona-fide title contender both of those years).

While Nakamura dominated on his feet be being amazingly “slick”, Clint Musser dominated with an overwhelming intensity that opponents simply could not match.  Having had the misfortune of wrestling Musser on numerous occasions- the best way I can describe it as where normally one might feel an opponent was coming at them from a single direction- with Musser, it felt like he was coming from about ten directions all at the same time.  Stylistically, Colt Sponseller reminds me very much of Musser.  Like Sponseller, Musser is without question one of the best of the past 20 years- a three-time state champion and four-time finalist in Division I, MVP of Senior Nationals, and, like Nakamura a two-time NCAA All-American (NCAA Runner-up his senior year).

Like the last two, the outcome here is very much in doubt, but several points to note here: first, there were two styles that I saw give Musser difficulty throughout his career: opponents who were extremely strong (Jon Vaughn) and tall, lanky wrestlers who could frustrate his offense with funky counters on the mat (Chad Kraft, Casey Cunningham).  Neither of those fits Nakamura (then again, very few wrestlers would be “similar” to Nakamura).  Second, Musser’s senior year, after a disappointing junior campaign (by his standards), he was simply on a mission- unstoppable really.  Like Lang, his senior year stood out in his career as far better than the rest.  Musser is my pick here.

OWS Pick: Clint Musser (Walsh Jesuit) dec. Yoshi Nakamura (St. Edward) 5-4. 

St. Edward leads 6-3

152:  Ryan Bertin (St. Edward) vs. Joe Heskett (Walsh)

Here we have a battle of future NCAA Champions, who like the 135’s, could not have more divergent styles.  Ryan Bertin stands out as perhaps the best one-time state champion of the past twenty years.  A relentless attacker on his feet who was always in good position, Bertin entered his senior year without a single state title or All-American finish to his name- yet not a single observer doubted how good he was.  Like Lang and Musser, however, everything “clicked” for Bertin his senior year.  The St. Edward schedule that year just happened to match Bertin up with quite a few of the nation’s best middleweights prior to state.  Despite not having won a state title yet, Bertin ran the table against all of them on his way to going unbeaten.  He then capped off the season by winning a senior national title.  It was to be a sign of things to come, as Bertin would go on to have one of the most decorated collegiate careers of any Ohio wrestler ever- four-time NCAA All-American and two-time NCAA Champion.

As good on the mat as Lance Palmer and Jimmy Johnson were, I think Joe Heskett- with his devastating cross-face cradle- would have to get the nod as the best mat wrestler this state has ever seen.  Heskett’s senior season was much like Bertin’s in fact, he defeated even more outstanding wrestlers- including future two-time NCAA Champion and World Bronze Medalist Donnie Pritzlaff (who remains Heskett’s archrival to this day), three-time Pennsylvania State Champ Mike Shingara, defending junior national champ Brian Burrows, and two-time New York State Champ Griff Powell.  Heskett also beat a wrestler his junior year some might have heard of- named Cael Sanderson- at the Reno Tournament of Champions.  Heskett would go on to one of the best collegiate careers of any Ohio wrestler, an NCAA Champ, three-time finalist, and four-time All-American (never finished lower than third), and of course, will be the #1 seed at the United States World Team in a few weeks.

I think in the end, when you consider that Heskett won everything there was to win in high school, the wrestlers he beat like Pritzlaff and Sanderson, how good he started off in college (unbeaten going into NCAA’s his redshirt freshman year), and the fact that he was simply never pushed his last three years in Ohio wrestling the toughest schedule there was- Joe Heskett is the choice here.

OWS Pick: Joe Heskett dec. Ryan Bertin 6-5

Dual is tied 6-6

160:  Sean Nemec (St. Edward 2007) vs. Dave Rella (Walsh Jesuit 2006)

Like Palmer, both of these outstanding wrestlers are well-known commodities to Ohio wrestling fans.  There is little to chose from between the two.  Nemec was a three-time champ and four-time finalist.  Rella was a two-time champ but one a senior national title and was a three-time junior national all-american.  Nemec had pretty fair Fargo credentials himself, winning cadet nationals as a freshman and placing 6th and 3rd (over some outstanding competition) the next two years at the junior level.   Unlike several of the prior match-ups, here we have two wrestlers with similar styles, both powerful, relentless takedown artists who were very difficult to take down as well.  I find this bout to be a complete toss-up, but if forced to choose, I think that Rella was just a tad better.  Perhaps one day we will see this match-up in college as Nemec will be a Buckeye, and Rella looks poised for a breakout year for Penn State after just defeating NCAA Champ Trent Paulson at University Nationals.

OWS Pick:  Dave Rella dec. Sean Nemec 3-2.

Walsh Leads 9-6

171: Brian Roddy (Jr. Year) (St. Edward 2008) vs. Marcus Mollica (Walsh Jesuit 1991)

Somewhat in the shadow of teammates like Dan Leemaster in his early years- and never a state place-winner heading into his junior year- Marcus Mollica made perhaps the largest single-year improvement that any wrestler has ever made.  Extremely fast for an upperweight, and ridiculously strong, Mollica’s junior season was not one of the best I can ever recall.  He completely dominating all comers during the season, and then parlayed that into winning an outstanding weight class at Junior Nationals at the end of the season.  The passion that Mollica competed with that year was simply unsurpassed.  Marcus Mollica would go on to be the first Ohio wrestler to achieve the PMOG (Preusse Meter of Greatness) by winning Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals.  From there, Mollica would go on to become a four-time NCAA All-American and two-time NCAA Champion.

This may surprise (given that Mollica is regarded as one of the all-time greats), but I do not consider this match to be a completely “foregone conclusion.”  As driven as Mollica was his junior year, that’s how driven Roddy was this past season.  Mollica’s senior year, there were times he could be a bit less dominant- reports were that he was somewhat “bored” with competition at the high school level.  Mollica was also somewhat of a light 171 his senior year (he competed at 165 in Fargo later that summer).   As good as he was on his feet, Mollica was even more difficult to score on.  His battle against offensive machine Roddy would truly be a test of great offense vs. great defense.  In the end, however, a senior Mollica must be the choice over a junor Roddy.

OWS Pick: Marcus Mollica (Walsh Jesuit) dec. Brian Roddy (St. Edward) 8-7.

Walsh leads 12-6.

189: Andy Hrovat (St.Edward) vs. Mike Pucillo (Walsh)

Mike Pucillo (shown here wrestling for Ohio State) moved from 152 to 189 his Senior Year with astonishing success. Photo Credit: Bob Tuneberg, Villager News

The career progression of these two wrestlers is nearly identical.  Both had breakout years as 145 lb. sophomores, finishing as state runner-ups (Hrovat to Joe Heskett).   While Hrovat captured his state title his junior year and Pucillo lost in a mild upset to Cody Butzer, both then made a tremendous leap to 189 without exactly becoming, well, particularly impressive physical specimens.  Andy Hrovat jumped from 160 to 189 without missing a beat- winning state and placing 4th at Senior Nationals after his senior year.  Frankly- I wasn’t that “high” on Hrovat coming out of high school- it wasn’t at all clear that he was the best 189 in Ohio that year, with Nick Preston, Tommy Rowlands, and Tim Corrigan in the picture- but, emphasizing technical skill over brawn, Hrovat has simply continued to surprise- from making NCAA All-American his freshman year, to becoming a three-time NCAA All-American, to eventually, making the 2006 United States World Team (to read an interview with Andy Hrovat, go here:http://www.ohiowrestlingsite.com/wp-content/old/articles/article33.php).

In between his junior and senior seasons, Pucillo made the simply unprecedented leap from 152 to 189.  The weight gain appeared to be more of a result of extra helpings of pasta than time spent in the gym, yet Pucillo stepped up his performances dramatically.  After any early-season loss at Ironman, Pucillo stunned the nation’s #1 ranked 189 at Beast of the East (Patrick Bond) and never looked back.  After dominating all comers in Ohio, Pucillo went on to win one of the toughest fields ever assembled at Senior Nationals, including a shocking yet decisive win over the outstanding Jake Varner.
I must admit that, given that Pucillo’s success seemed to fly in the face of all conventional principles of wrestling (i.e. being “lean and mean” for one), I still wasn’t completely convinced his incredible senior season wasn’t some sort of bizarre aberration- and that he hadn’t been wrestling over his head.  Safe to say, after another superb season, where he lost only once heading into Big Ten’s and finished as an All-American as a freshman year for the Buckeyes, I am now “sold”.

Pucillo just had that undefinable “something” his senior year.  He just seems to have a sort of commanding presence on the mat.   I think he must be the choice here.

OWS Pick:  Mike Pucillo (Walsh Jesuit) dec. Andy Hrovat (St. Edward) 9-7. 

Walsh Leads 15-6.

215 LBS:  Matt Koz (St. Edward) vs. Jeff Knupp (Walsh Jesuit)

Battle of the three-timers here-   Koz was, perhaps, an unlikely three-time state champ at 215 lbs.  Koz squeaked past Pat Barrentine his sophomore and junior years and then avenged two prior losses against Matt Delguyd of Mayfield High School.  His senior year, he was handled twice by Jared Villers, but when Villers fell victim to a poor strategic decision in the semifinals at Nationals (taking the down position against Espinoza- an absolute bear on top who completely wore him down), Koz capitalized and outlasted Espinoza for a national title.  What can you say, the guy knew how to win when it counted.

Jeff Knupp was, of course, a three-time state champion who was probably the most “ballyhooed” upperweight of the 1990’s. As slick and quick of a big man as you will find, Knupp dominated the state tournament his sophomore and junior years at 215 then moved down to 189 his senior year face to face the outstanding state champion  of that weight, Avery Zerkle.  Zerkle had dominate the very tough Nathan Funk of Olmsted Falls the year before in the finals, and this bout was THE match of the year for Ohio wrestling fans.  In the final bout of the careers of these state champions, however, it was all Knupp, as he took down Zerkle repeatedly on his way to a 10-4 win.  The win really cemented Knupp’s legacy as one of the great upperweights of his generation.

The is a tough call. Knupp would be up a weight, but Koz was a particularly large 215 and Knupp was equally dominant at that weight anyway.  Koz lower center of gravity made him very difficult to take down, but I think that Knupp was slick enough to get a couple takedown here.

OWS Pick: Jeff Knupp (Walsh Jesuit) dec. Matt Koz (St. Edward) 5-3.

Walsh leads 18-6

275: Steven Terebeniec (St. Edward) vs. Victor Sveda (Walsh Jesuit)

As previously stated, Victor Sveda was a two-time NCAA All-American at 184 in college, but given that he was a senior national runner-up at 215 his senior year, and that Walsh has never had a state placer at this weight, moving him to 275 would be there best option.

Steven Terebeniec came into his high school career as one of the most “hyped” big men of all-time.  Though he was overshadowed by Luke Fickell (and be overshadowed I mean completely dominated, as was every other human being who wrestled Fickell), he is, I think, one of the top ten heavyweight of the last twenty years.  An explosive thrower, I recall that he ended his career with a fall in approximately :15 in the state finals.

Victor Sveda was not even a state qualifier before moving to Walsh his junior year, and again failed to qualify for state his junior year.  Sveda’s reputation was that he was one of the hardest workers in the sport- I’ve heard stories of him pushing cars up hills among others- and perhaps it was that which lead to him making a quantum leap, first finishing as junior national runner-up (to future Olympian Garrett Lowney, and ahead of Knupp) and then finishing as state champ and senior national runner-up despite being an undersized 215.  He would go to finish as an All-American as a freshman in college and third in the NCAA as a junior.  Sveda entered his senior year of college ranked #1 in the nation, but had a oddly disappointing season, eventually being eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by long-time college rival Andy Hrovat from St. Edward.

The dangerousness of Terebeniec combined with the tremendous size disparity makes me think that we could see a fall here.  However, much like we saw in the Blair/St. Edwards dual this year, Sveda’s “marching orders” would be to stay off his back, and I think he has the mental toughness to go the full six.

OWS Pick: Steven Terebeniec (St. Edward) maj. dec. Victor Sveda (Walsh Jesuit) 14-4

Walsh leads 18-10

103 LBS:  Mason Lenhard- Sophomore Year- (St. Edward) vs. Adam Plouse- Sophomore Year (Walsh Jesuit)

This is another of those judgment calls.  Lenhard was unbeaten in winning state that year, his first of three Division I state titles.   Lenhard would go on to win senior nationals as well.  Ironically, despite his impressive credentials, Lenhard perhaps did not get his due as he was outshined by two of the brightest stars of his generation- in underclassmen Harry Lester and C.P. Schlatter.   Slick and very polished technically, Lenhard is undoubtedly one of the best lightweights of this decade.

As mentioned in the previous article, Adam Plouse was simply a “gamer” who showed up big-time for the big match.  The bigger the stakes the better he wrestled.  Plouse is my choice here in what is truly a tossup.

OWS Pick: Adam Plouse (Walsh Jesuit) dec. Mason Lenhard (St. Edward) 7-6

Walsh leads 21-10

112: Mark Moos- Junior Year- (St. Edward) vs. Josh Zupanic – Sophomore Year- (Walsh Jesuit)

Here we have, ironically, another match that happened on numerous occasions.  In all but their final meeting, this match was won by Mark Moos.  Moos’s junior year was simply brilliant.  He won the Ironman, Beast of the East, the state tournament, and Junior Nationals (over Sam Hazewinkel among others) and was never beaten.  While his strangely dismal collegiate career may cause some to overlook him- make no mistake, in high school he was the “real deal”- consider, for instance, that his Senior National title was over future two-time NCAA Champion Matt Valenti.

Josh Zupanic’s career progression has been vastly different.  A one-time state champ and four-time finalist who was basically “screwed” out of a second state title his senior year, Zupanic took his talents to Stanford.  Growing from a 130 lb. senior into a 157, he finished this year as an NCAA All-American in a loaded weight to go along with his outstanding academics.  In hindsight, perhaps we should have realized how good Zupanic was in high school- J. Jaggers and Mark Moos were among his wins, and his lone state title was won in a weight in which neither defending state champs Ricky Deubel or Adam Buzek, or eventual three-time state champion Cameron Doggett managed to place.

OWS Pick: Mark Moos (St. Edward) dec. Josh Zupanic (Walsh Jesuit) 7-4

Walsh leads 21-13.

119 lbs:  Eddie Jayne (St. Edward) vs. Brent Thompson (Walsh Jesuit)

Eddie Jayne may have been the finest lightweight of the 1990’s in my view.   His three titles did not come easy- as Jayne had to go through Shawn Contos, Kevin Contos (both on the list of top ten freshman not to win state) and superfrosh Sonny Marchette to win them.  Just a relentless, all-out attack machine all six minutes, Jayne was equally good on his feet and on the mat.  Despite the two titles he had already won, many thought that Jayne would fall to Sonny Marchette in what was one of the most anticipated state finals of the last twenty years- particularly after Jayne injury defaulted to Marchette early in a match that Marchette seemed to be getting the better of at Top Gun.   Jayne more than answered Marchette’s challenge, and put an “exclamation point” on his career, winning 10-1 over Marchette.

Brent Thompson was a gritty competitor who finished second and third in loaded weight class his sophomore and junior years, before claiming a state title and NHSCA All-American finish his senior year.   He would hang tough in this bout, but Jayne clearly has the edge.

OWS Pick: Eddie Jayne (St. Edward) dec. Brent Thompson (Walsh Jesuit) 9-4.

Walsh Leads: 21-16

125 lbs: Mark Jayne (St. Edward) vs. Nate Gulosh (Walsh Jesuit)

Here we have another match that actually did happen.  Mark Jayne defeated Nate Gulosh, though the score escapes me now.

Mark Jayne high school achievements seemed to mirror older brother Eddie’s.  Three-time state champion.  Third at Junior National Freestyle (twice).   The younger Jayne brother was also a Junior National Greco Champ and two-time finalist.  Like Eddie, his titles did not come easy, as he had to defeat future four-time NCAA All-American Jake Percival, among others.  Much more aggressive and explosive than his more controlled older brother, Mark Jayne never failed to entertain.  He would go on to be a two-time NCAA All-American for Illinois and defeated two-time NCAA Champion Johnny Thompson among other great wins.

Nate Gulosh is another guy that is somewhat “under the radar” in the Walsh pantheon of greats simply because he had so many outstanding teammates.  However, he is one of three wrestlers to defeat Harry Lester (his senior year, when Harry was a junior) and placed third at Senior Nationals.  Nonetheless, the choice here must be the fireplug Mark Jayne.

OWS Pick:  Mark Jayne (St. Edward) dec. Nate Gulosh (Walsh Jesuit) 11-6

Walsh Leads: 21-19

130:  Alan Fried- Jr. Year- (St. Edward) vs. Dan Leemaster (Walsh Jesuit)

With one match with the dual on the line, obviously, St. Edward couldn’t get a better “closer” than Alan Fried.  The best high school wrestler to ever grace the mat in this state- Alan Fried had already scored a technical fall over Tom Brands by this point in his career.  He would go on to score several takedowns on John Smith (that being 6x World and Olympic Champion John Smith) later that summer at the Olympic Trials- where he pushed NCAA Champions to the wire.  Having wrestled Fried one summer at Solon Open mats when we about ten lbs. apart in weight- the best way I can describe it is that it was sort of like watching a wrestling match that is on “fast forward” and trying to figure out what is happening  (to learn more about Fried’s amazing career and personal story, read the following interviews: http://www.ohiowrestlingsite.com/wp-content/old/articles/article39.php

http://www.ohiowrestlingsite.com/wp-content/old/articles/article40.php

http://www.ohiowrestlingsite.com/wp-content/old/articles/article44.php

Dan Leemaster was one of my personal favorite guys to watch as a young wrestler.  Leemaster’s matches were characterized by a sudden burst of what I recall Brakeman referring to as “controlled fury” in which he would break open a close match with a huge, sudden outburst of points.  His battles with wrestlers like Dave Gustovich and Mike Mihalic were classics of the era.  Leemaster won state as junior after finishing third behind a very tough Jason Laflin his sophomore year.  As a senior, Leemaster was clearly the best 130 in the state (actually the one possibly exception in my view, Peter Nathanson, did not place), but inexplicably “gassed” in a match against Bryan Gron, who he had beaten several times before, and finished 3rd.

That said, Leemaster, like pretty much every other wrestler in the state not named Schlatter or Lester, would be totally outclassed by Alan Fried.

Alan Fried (St. Edward) maj. dec. Dan Leemaster (Walsh Jesuit) 17-6.

St. Edward wins the dual 23-21.

The St. Edward Eagles of 2007 react to clinching the national title versus Blair Academy.

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