Wrestling redemption could be at hand for Ross at state tourney

Ross wrestling coach Rich Dunn admits Sunday is a moment he has been plotting for over a year.

After missing on a return trip to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state team tournament in 2017, the Rams wasted little time plotting how to get back in 2018.

“Falling one match short last year was disappointing for the wrestlers, coaching staff, and fans,” Dunn said. “The coaching staff started working on returning to Columbus the week after the loss. The disappointment from last year has motivated the returning wrestlers to do their jobs.”

Sunday at 1:15 p.m. the Rams will get their chance.

Ross enters the state tournament as the sixth seed and will face third-seeded Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. A win will put Ross in the semis at 3:30 with finals slated for 7:30.

“SVSM has a group of extremely talented wrestlers with eight starters ranked in the top 10 at their respective weights by some projections,” Dunn said. “That not only puts pressure on our wrestlers who match up with these stars, but also on those who are not matched up. We need to win the majority of the other matches to be able to knock off the number three seed.”

The voting for the seeds was tighter than normal with Graham bumping up to Division I.

Wauseon was the clear top pick, but the difference between Ross and second seed Mentor Lake Catholic was just 23 points.

“This year’s three through six seeded teams are from well established programs having a successful season,” Dunn said. “Additionally, each have individuals that are having banner years. The parity comes from how each would match up head to head. These match-ups are so close that they could hinge on one mistake in one match. All it would take is for a wrestler with a comfortable lead to get caught and pinned resulting in a nine point swing to decide the match.”

Ross knows all about saving points and getting them where they can. In the first state team tournament in 2013, the Rams advanced to the semis after knocking off second seed CVCA on criteria.

Dunn expects the senior class to be a lot less nervous than the 2013 group as they make their third trip to state.

“The seniors have familiarity with St.John Arena,” Dunn said. “I am sure they will use this to help settle the nerves of the freshmen and sophomores who are going for the first time.”

It is an experience that 195-pounder Austin Hamblin described as the “best experience you will have in your high school career.”

Dunn believes part of it has to do with the team aspect.

“Going as one big group rewards those wrestlers who stick it out,” Dunn said. “Wrestling is a demanding sport in many ways.

“Not all high schoolers are willing to endure the wrestling regimen. I enjoy watching those who will probably never qualify for individual state experience this big event as a participant. It helps them appreciate the experience knowing how hard they have worked and how much they have sacrificed.”

Shupp tops in GMC: Fairfield senior Zach Shupp added another item to his travel bag last Saturday at the Greater Miami Conference tournament. Shupp, who won his fourth title, was named wrestler of the year in the conference in voting by coaches.

“To win four league titles at the GMC tournament is not easy,” Fairfield coach Jason Laflin said. “He has wrestled some very tough kids along the way.”

The title pushed Shupp’s record to 31-1, giving him 138 career wins, six short of the school record of 144 set by four-time state champ Willie Wineberg.

“Zach Shupp has worked hard for a long time,” Laflin said. “He has made it no secret that his goal from his freshman year was to break the all-time win record. While we have not talked about it much, I think he has fun chasing it down.”

For the first time in school history, the Indians have the player of the year in three sports with Alexis Goins winning the honor in girls soccer and Malik Vann in football.

Lehman steps down: Lakota East wrestling coach Jim Lehman resigned Jan. 26 for "personal reasons."

“The remainder of the staff is intact and I have the utmost confidence in their ability to lead our program through the remainder of the season,” athletic director Richard Bryant said. “I will continue to look for the right person to fill the head coaching position next season.”

Instead of designating one person as the head coach for the remainder of the season, the entire staff will be “managing the head coaching responsibilities,” Bryant said.