Here are the top 10 things to watch for at this weekend’s state wrestling tournament
1. Will the Allen East squad nab a top-10 finish in Division III?
With Allen East sending a school-record six athletes to the Division III state tournament, there seems to be enough firepower with three of those wrestlers being returning state qualifiers, along with three others who made very strong statements this season, to be able to make a run in the final team standings at state.
Last year, Allen East sent four grapplers to the state tournament, and ended the three-day tournament tied for 17th overall in Division III.
Longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey is looking forward to a strong performance this weekend at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
“We’re going to be ready to battle it out down there,” Abbey said. “Hopefully, we come out and wrestle another great weekend. … We’ll be ready to get it done.”
Senior Garrett Neth, a district champion at 195 pounds this past weekend at Troy, leads the list of returning state qualifiers for the Mustangs. Neth heads into the state tournament with a 44-1 record this season. Last year, Neth placed sixth at 195.
Junior Drake Carmean (126) is making a return to state this weekend. Last year, Carmean placed sixth in the 120-pound weight class. He sports a 44-4 record.
Brennan Davies, a senior heavyweight, will make a return to Columbus for the Mustangs. Last season, Davies did not make the podium. The University of Findlay-bound football lineman, posted a 46-8 record this season.
Junior Blake Hershberger (160) will be making his first trip to state. Hershberger has a record of 48-8.
Freshman Kade Wireman (138) placed fourth at the Troy district. Wireman boasts a 43-9 record.
Another freshman, Eli Criblez (220), qualified for the state tournament with a third-place finish at Troy. He sports a 16-6 season mark.
2. Will the Caprella brothers make a splash at the state tournament?
The Caprella brothers from Lima Central Catholic had their sights set high all season long.
Chase Caprella (34-3), a senior, will be making his fourth appearance at the state tournament. He was runner-up in the 132-pound weight class at the Troy Division III district.
The one thing the elder Caprella has missed in his previous appearances at state, is a podium finish.
“Next week is the week,” Chase Caprella said after the Troy district.
Gavin Caprella, a sophomore, was a state alternate last year. This season, the 106-pounder placed third at Troy to stamp his ticket.
3. Will Van Wert senior Gabe Steyer close out his illustrious high school wrestling career with a podium finish ?
The four-time Western Buckeye League champion is aiming high in his last appearance at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
“I want to place top four (at state),” Steyer said, after winning another WBL title in February. “I felt like I should have placed the last two times at state. I just didn’t perform on the big stage.”
4. How will Wapakoneta senior Evan Kaeck respond with not competing on the wrestling mat last season?
Two seasons ago (2018), Kaeck went down to the Division II state tournament with one goal: To win a state title.
At that state tournament, a shoulder injury forced Kaeck to forfeit his last two matches, and ultimately finish sixth at 220 pounds.
Kaeck, who also is a standout on the football field, took last wrestling season off, after he underwent a surgery to repair his shoulder.
Kaeck (35-5) was runner-up at this past weekend’s Division II district at Norwalk.
Kaeck’s teammate, 106-pound junior Colin Mellott (37-5), will make a return to state this weekend. Mellott was runner-up at the Norwalk district.
5. Chase Martin from Delphos St. John’s is chasing his dream.
At the Division III district at Troy, Martin (38-6) placed fourth in the 170-pound weight class. This weekend, Martin will be making his first appearance at the state tournament.
“My goal the whole season was to get to state,” Martin, a junior, said. “I’m just going to go in with a tough attitude.”
Martin will have his hands full, as he faces two-time state-placer, Rittman’s Sevi Garza (48-2) in his first-round match Friday.
6. The Hisey brothers hope to bring home hardware for St. Marys.
The Hisey twins, sophomores Tyler and Trevor, both stamped their tickets for the state wrestling tournament with top-four finishes at the Division II district at Norwalk.
Trevor Hisey (22-3) was runner-up in the 113-pound weight class. Tyler Hisey (45-3) placed third at 106.
7. Columbus Grove’s Jeff Meyer hopes to improve on last year’s performance.
Columbus Grove junior Jeff Meyer notched his second district title this past weekend at Troy in the 285-pound weight class.
Meyer (42-4) is hoping to get a little further up the awards podium this weekend. This is the third time Meyer has made it to the state tournament.
“Until now, we’ve never had anybody go down to state three years in a row,” Columbus Grove coach Eric Siefker said. “He was our first freshman. Hopefully next year it will be four (times to state). … But we want to finish out this year strong, yet.”
8. Will Bath senior Zachary Simpson close out his career with a top-eight finish?
This past weekend, Simpson placed third at the Troy Division III district at 182 pounds. This will be his first trip to state.
9. Kenton’s Noah Eikenbary ready for his second trip to state.
Last year, Eikenbary made it to state in Division II.
This season, Kenton’s 220-pounder will be competing at the state tournament in Division III. Kenton dropped down to Division III this season.
Last year, Eikenbary did not place at state, as he was battling through an injury. The senior Eikenbary sports a 31-4 record.
“Honestly, I just want to get back in the wrestling room, and then go down there and hopefully pull out something crazy,” Eikenbary said after this past weekend’s district tournament. “I don’t know right now. … I’m just full of emotions and don’t know what to think.”
10. What will the atmosphere be like this weekend, with the new attendance rules for the state tournament?
The Ohio High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Championships will have a limited attendance policy, due to the recent coronavirus situation.
The OHSAA made a statement Tuesday that all state qualifying student-athletes will each be permitted to designate four family members who will be permitted to purchase all-session ticket books. State tournament coaches will each be permitted to designate two family members to purchase tickets.
One thing is for certain, with nearly 19,000 seats available at the Schottenstein Center, it will definitely be a much quieter crowd than previous years.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.