High school wrestlers don’t normally make a lot of noise during their first season. The best freshmen usually find success at the lower weights, and it’s rare when one can go far at any weight above 145 pounds.
But that was no consolation to Keystone’s Jacob Worthington last season. He was a Division III state alternate at 170 pounds, but was still upset he didn’t make it to Columbus.
“That was my goal the whole year, so I was disappointed that I fell short,” Worthington said. “But that happens sometimes … you fall just short of your goal. So I’m aiming really high this year, just in case I fall short.”
Worthington expects to win the 182-pound state championship. He’s been saying it all season, and he’s been wrestling like he’s capable of accomplishing as much.
Worthington has compiled a 38-5 record, all while wrestling a better-than-average schedule that included the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, and tournaments at Cuyahoga Heights and West Holmes.
His success is a combination of hard work — he began wrestling at 4 years old — and genetics.
“My father wrestled, my brother wrestled, my cousins wrestled — it definitely runs in the family,” Worthington said. “I started with my dad in the basement. We actually had wrestling mats down in our basement and he just started showing me some moves.”
Worthington’s father, Glenn, was a state qualifier at Mansfield Senior High, and his brother, John, was a three-time state qualifier who placed fourth his senior season at Shelby High before going on to star at Mercyhurst University.
“He’s a huge influence,” Jacob said of his brother. “I strive to beat all his records and goals, even though we don’t go to the same schools. He had something like 170 wins while he was in high school.”
Jacob joined the Shelby biddie program in first grade, then began training with Jeff Stieber — father of four-time state champions Logan and Hunter — and the Ohio Dawgs in Milan during the third grade. The group trained in the basement of Cam Tessari, who also won four state titles with the Stiebers at Monroeville.
“It was an hour drive, four times a week,” Worthington said. “I’d come home from school around four, eat dinner until about five, then head off to train for a couple hours. We wouldn’t get home until about 10 p.m.”
Worthington began training at All-American Wrestling — with the Monroeville wrestlers — under Erik Burnett in the fourth grade. It’s there that he met Brian and William Spangler, and James Gerken — all prominent wrestlers for Keystone.
So when Glenn was transferred from the General Motors plant in Mansfield to the one in Parma, the family decided it needed to move closer to his work. LaGrange seemed like a perfect fit because of Worthington’s relationships with the Keystone families.
“It was a great school,” Worthington said. “My dad wanted to keep me away from the big cities and the inner-city schools because he thought it would help keep me out of trouble.”
The move has paid off for Worthington and the Wildcats.
The wrestler has come up huge during Keystone’s run to a regional championship in the OHSAA’s inaugural state team tournament.
“There were four or five kids missing in the beginning of the season and we were getting stomped in every dual (meet),” Worthington said. “We knew that once we got those guys back we were going to be great. Everybody got healthy and is peaking at the right time. It’s all just coming together.”
Just like those heavy freshmen, not many are expecting much from Keystone in Columbus this weekend after the Wildcats were handed the No. 8 seed and will face top-seeded Delta.
“We actually match up really well against them,” Worthington said. “I think if we can get past Delta, we have a great chance of winning it all.”
Week in review
Amherst finished second out of eight teams in the Southwestern Conference tournament at Olmsted Falls last Saturday. The Comets were led by a sextet of individual champions — Christian Lough at 120 pounds, Alex Funderburg at 138, Bryce Williams at 145, Austin Williams at 152, Mike Sliman at 170 and Stephan Moody at 285.
Also placing for Amherst were Mike Wearsch (runner-up at 160), Dennis Breeding (runner-up at 195), Todd Hastings (third at 220), Michael Falencki (fourth at 106) and Derek Eibon (fourth at 182).
• Avon Lake finished seventh in the SWC tournament. Placing for the Shormen were Zach Klima (runner-up at 113), Anthony Gerrone (third at 106) and D.J. Mutach (third at 145).
• St. Edward went 2-1 at their annual Super Quad last Saturday, beating Marysville (46-18) and Steubenville (60-10) before losing 32-20 to Blair Academy (N.J.) — the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Avon’s Sal Corrao — the Eagles’ 113-pounder — also went 2-1, getting a second-period pin against Marysville, a technical fall against Steubenville and losing a 5-2 decision against Blair Academy.
Tournaments on tap
Avon, Elyria Catholic, Midview, North Ridgeville and Vermilion will compete at the West Shore Conference tournament at Bay High on Saturday.
• Keystone will compete in the inaugural state team tournament Saturday at St. John Arena in Columbus. The No. 8-seeded Wildcats will face top-seeded Delta at 11 a.m. on Mat 5. If victorious, the Wildcats will face the winner of No. 4 Versailles and No. 5 Upper Sandusky at
3:30 p.m. on the same mat. If the Wildcats won their semifinal they would wrestle for the Division III state championship at 8 p.m. on Mat 3. The other Division III seeded teams are No. 2 Massillon Tuslaw, No. 3 Amanda-Clearcreek, No. 6 Johnstown Northridge and No. 7 Blanchester.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
Wrestler of the week
T.J. Halstead, Elyria
WEIGHT: 285 pounds
LAST WEEK: Went 5-0, including a 4-0 performance at the Northeast Ohio Conference tournament last weekend. Pinned his opponent in a mid-week dual meet with Parma, then picked up a pair of pins at the NOC tournament to win the heavyweight title.
T.J.’S THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK: “It felt good to win it. I went in there, was seeded low and I knew I needed to get my head straight and finish the season right. I had almost the same record as the kid who was seeded No. 1 and I was seeded No. 6.”
OFF THE MAT: Has been heavily involved with the Boy Scouts since first grade. Enjoys camping with the group once a month and is a Life Scout working on his Eagle. They also do community work, including cleaning up highways, holding food drives and serving the homeless meals. Enjoys going to eat at Denny’s, as well as playing pool, darts and video games — usually “Call of Duty” or “Need for Speed” — with his friends.
PARENTS: Tim and Udy
FUTURE PLANS: Wants to wrestle in college, but if he doesn’t, he plans on possibly going to Kent State, LCCC or Community College of Beaver County (Pa.). He hopes to be an air traffic controller.
106 — Sebastian Vidika, Black River, 32-1 (.970); Devione Edwards, Lorain, 30-5 (.857); Jose Gracia, Elyria Catholic, 14-6 (.700); Jacob Downs, Wellington, 22-10 (.688); Justin Clark, Columbia, 21-10 (.677); Jarrett Hylton, Clearview, 25-13 (.658); Nico O’Dor, Elyria, 21-11 (.656); Austin Knowlton, Brookside, 17-9 (.654); Jason Grau, Midview, 10-6 (.625); Madison Burns, Brookside, 15-11 (.577); Zach Carte, Midview, 12-9 (.571); Anthony Gerrone, Avon Lake, 14-13 (.519).
113 — Spencer White, Black River, 32-1 (.970); Evan Collier, North Ridgeville, 28-2 (.933); Nick Mayer, Avon Lake, 12-1 (.923); Armando Torres, Elyria, 31-4 (.886); Zach Klima, Avon Lake, 21-9 (.700); Aiden Wonder, Brookside, 21-16 (.568); Sal Corrao, St. Edward/Avon, 16-13 (.552); Mike Filiaggi, Elyria Catholic, 18-16 (.529); Sam Taylor, Midview, 15-14 (.517).
120 — Drew Dickson, North Ridgeville, 27-2 (.931); Mike Hozan, Black River, 30-5 (.857); Ben Darmstadt, Elyria, 27-5 (.844); Dylan Stiner, Keystone, 18-5 (.783); Nick Saxton, Elyria Catholic, 8-4 (.667); Jack Gothier, Avon, 15-12 (.556).
126 — Tommy Zeigler, St. Ignatius/North Ridgeville, 15-2 (.882); Bryan DeRuchie, Amherst, 29-5 (.853); Mike Hollingsworth, Clearview, 38-7 (.844); Darrion Overall, Elyria, 27-5 (.844); Joey Bernosky, Avon Lake, 24-6 (.800); Mason Harsar, Elyria Catholic, 19-5 (.792); Max Kuchenrither, Avon, 27-10 (.730); Devin French, Brookside, 28-17 (.622); Jon Eschedor, Wellington, 18-12 (.600).
132 — Mikah Price, Elyria, 5-0; Logan Stiner, Keystone, 35-5 (.875); Matt Hollingsworth, Clearview, 39-7 (.848); Angel Alexander, Firelands, 37-7 (.841); Sean Kilbane, Elyria Catholic, 25-7 (.781); Brandon Egnor, Elyria, 22-8 (.733); Ben Provoznik, Wellington, 19-9 (.679); Drew Schatz, Midview, 24-12 (.667); Michael Dolan, Elyria, 14-8 (.636); Morgan Bremke, Oberlin, 19-17 (.528).
138 — Eli Garcia, Lorain, 24-1 (.960); Alex Funderburg, Amherst, 27-7 (.794); Jesse Orantek, Elyria, 28-8 (.778); Spencer Geil, Vermilion, 20-11 (.645); Chris McKenzie, Keystone, 20-13 (.606); Chad Shaffer, Elyria, 18-12 (.600); Tony Lupico, Midview, 16-11 (.593); Adler Vasiloff, Lutheran West/Vermilion, 20-15 (.571).
145 — Mike Repko, Vermilion, 9-0; Jake Delorge, Avon, 30-5 (.857); D.J. Murdock, Avon Lake, 10-2 (.833); Bryce Williams, Amherst, 29-6 (.829); Ian Standen, Brookside, 38-9 (.809); Justin Flanigan, Elyria, 10-3 (.769); Mason Geierman, Elyria, 10-3 (.769); Ricky Godri, North Ridgeville, 19-8 (.704); Alex Parker, Elyria, 21-10 (.677); Alex Imhoff, Wellington, 22-14 (.611); Sam Wilson, Oberlin, 11-8 (.579); Alex Szuch, Midview, 8-7 (.533); Clay Hartley, Keystone, 16-14 (.533).
152 — Derrick Foster, Clearview, 38-5 (.884); Austin Williams, Amherst, 32-5 (.865); Tyler Thomas, Oberlin, 19-5 (.792); Tyler Mayer, Avon Lake, 20-12 (.625); Josh Kitko, Wellington, 21-13 (.618).
160 — Jerot Schill, Elyria Catholic, 25-3 (.893); Luther Washington, Lorain, 22-3 (.880); Mike Wearsch, Amherst, 31-6 (.838); Kolby Hirshfelder, Midview, 17-6 (.739); Colin Riley, North Ridgeville, 21-9 (.700); Taylor Workman, Elyria, 26-12 (.684); Aaron Rice, Vermilion, 16-8 (.667); Jason Barnicle, Avon Lake, 11-10 (.524).
170 — Zach Frambach, Midview, 9-1 (.900); Mike Sliman, Amherst, 21-6 (.778); Jeremy King, Keystone, 22-10 (.688); Felipe Valadez, Clearview, 21-12 (.636); Josh Pierce, Elyria Catholic, 17-14 (.548).
182 — Hamza Kirresh, Avon, 28-3 (.903); Jacob Worthington, Keystone, 38-5 (.884); Derek Eibon, Amherst, 26-7 (.788); Jake Maund, Black River, 25-7 (.781); Divante Holt, Clearview, 20-10 (.667); Kaz Dec, Wellington, 16-10 (.615).
195 — Austin Kuchta, Elyria Catholic, 29-3 (.906); Connor Kamczyc, Elyria, 12-2 (.857); Dennis Breeding, Amherst, 24-7 (.774); Corbin Chizmadia, Keystone, 12-5 (.706).
220 — Adam Kuchta, Elyria Catholic, 29-2 (.935); Ivan Mendoza, Brookside, 21-9 (.700); Ryan Slone, Black River, 23-10 (.697); Todd Hastings, Amherst, 14-11 (.560).
285 — Deion Arnold, Clearview, 26-8 (.765); Nick Bailey, North Ridgeville, 20-7 (.741); T.J. Halstead, Elyria, 24-10 (.706); Stephan Moody, Amherst, 20-10 (.667); Andre Torres, Elyria Catholic, 21-13 (.618); Jason Bustance, Keystone, 22-14 (.611).