PHILO, Ohio - Ten area wrestlers have punched their tickets Saturday to next week's Division III OHSAA State Wrestling Championship, which will take place beginning Thursday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Of the 10 grapplers, five schools are still participating. Shadyside and Martins Ferry lead the way with three each, St. Clairsville is sending a pair, and Monroe Central and River have one entrant each
Shadyside's trio of Alex Quinn, Chase Kinemond and Ian Baker will again be carrying the torch. Quinn heads to the state tournament with ''unfinished business'' after reaching the semifinals last year before falling to the consolation bracket and settling for a third-place finish.
''I am not going to lose my head when I get out there this year,'' Quinn said. ''I only have four high school matches left and I want an undefeated season.''
Quinn took no prisoners in capturing his second consecutive 152-pound district title. He's 41-0 and posted pins in three of his four matches this weekend, including against Paint Valley's Tegan McFadden at the 51-second mark of the first period.
Kinemond has been waiting for this chance March of 2010 when he placed in the state tournament. Since then, Kinemond has battled an injury that kept him out of the postseason as a sophomore and a football-sustained knee injury, which forced him to miss all of last season.
However, Kinemond made the most of his last opportunity.
''Getting back to the state has definitely been a goal of mine because watching the last two state tournaments in the crowd has been hard on me,'' Kinemond said. ''I've been waiting for this moment for a long time.''
Kinemond, like Quinn, had basically no troubles whatsoever in stringing together four straight victories. He recorded two pins and two shutouts en route to the gold.
Baker, who started the Tigers' finals parade at 145 pounds, was edged out by Northridge's Thomas Williams by a tough 2-1 final. Baker's only point came on a late escape when he attempted at a takedown came up short and Williams got the gold for the second straight season, earning his 214th career victory in the process.
Martins Ferry's Damon Outward is making his third trip to the state tournament and is in search of that All-Ohio status that's eluded him.
The Riders' 126 pounder enters as a district champion after posting a 5-1 decision against Sandy Valley's Joe Newman in a rematch from last week's sectional final at Barnesville.
''The score was a lot tighter (last week),'' Outward said. ''I feel like with this past week of practice, I increased my ability that much.''
Purple Riders senior Zac Coole rounded out his team's showing with a runner-up finish at 220 pounds. Coole got to the finals with a pin and a pair of one-point victories. However, West Jefferson's Corey Ginn (49 victories), proved too much in the finals, handing Coole a 10-2 setback.
Ferry sophomore Theo Zoumpoulidis has had an impressive postseason thus far. He fell short in the title bout at 106 pounds, dropping a 6-0 decision to Northridge's Jake Adkins.
St. Clairsville senior Justin Callarik finished fourth at 138 pounds, dropping a 8-6 decision to Columbus Bishop Ready's Dalton Scott. Callarik lost his opening-round bout on Friday and battled his way through the consolation matches to get to the state tournament.
For the first time in his impressive career, Corey Ernest will be wrestling on the last weekend of the season. Ernest had little trouble in advancing to the championship semifinals, but was felled 8-3 by Columbus Bishop Ready's Patrick Garren in the semifinals.
Monroe Central sophomore Rodney Richter advanced to the district final with relative ease, posting a technical fall, major decision and a decision in the semifinals. However, he was dealt a 18-10 major decision setback by Newark Catholic's Caleb Ohi.
River's J.D. Dotson is in at 220 pounds. It'll be the senior's first trip to the state. He finished fourth in the 220-pound bracket and is 34-7.