COLUMBUS — It’s easier to follow the snowplow than it is trying to drive in front of it.
That was the thought process of St. Edward junior Collin Palmer when discussing whether older brother Lance had it rougher as the first in his family to win four high school state championships or if Collin has it tougher trying to match him.
“I think it’s gotta be harder to be the first to do it,” said Collin, who captured his third state title with a 5-0 victory over Mansfield Madison senior Josh Speelman in the Division I 135-pound final on Saturday at Value City Arena. “I’m still chugging along. I can’t get to four until I get the third, so this was a big step.”
The other two area finalists came up short in their bids for state championships as Westlake sophomore Nick Lawrence dropped a 1-0 decision to Solon senior Garrett Henry at 119 pounds and Amherst senior Aaron Winemiller lost by technical fall, 21-6, to St. Edward senior Brian Roddy at 171.
In Palmer’s final, the Columbia Township resident used a pair of barrel rolls for takedowns and handed Speelman just his second loss of the year, the other a 5-2 loss to Palmer in the Marion Harding district championship match.
“I just kept shooting singles,” Palmer said. “I knew he was going to come out there and try some big moves. I felt him trying to stand me up. He was trying to hit some big throws on me.”
Palmer, who said it’s been a tough season because he’s had to battle through some injuries, was motivated in the championship match for a couple of reasons.
“I was trying to stay aggressive and I was going for the pin,” he said. “A good friend of ours said if I pinned him he’d give me $200. So I wanted to bury him.”
The other reason Palmer was so pumped up was because Lance was sitting in the St. Edward coach’s chair during the state title run. Lance missed Palmer’s second title last season because he was competing with Ohio State at the Big Ten Championships.
“That was really awesome that they let me do that,” Lance said. “I was able to help coach him like I did during his freshman year and see him pick up his third state title.”
Winemiller said he knew his match against Roddy — who also beat the Comet with a technical fall in the Southview sectional final — was going to be a tough one, so he made sure to enjoy everything about the state championship ceremonies.
“I was really loose,” Winemiller said. “The parade of champions was amazing. When you’re up in the stands watching it, it’s just not the same as being a part of it.”
The state runner-up performance was especially impressive as Winemiller tore his MCL with a month left in the season, covered his knee with a brace and kept battling on the mats.
“He has a lot of heart,” Comets coach Bill Walker said. “It all goes back to his work ethic. He was willing to put in the effort to get where he needed.”
Lawrence couldn’t repeat the success he had during the North Coast Classic, when he pulled out a 2-1 victory over Henry. This time the Solon wrestler blocked the aggressive Demon and wouldn’t allow him to finish his shots.
“He’s a long, lanky kid,” said Lawrence, who placed fifth at 103 pounds last season. “His legs kind of snake around you and make it that much harder to do anything.”
But the night belonged to Palmer, who, like his older brother, went unbeaten during his junior season.
“Your third year is important because that’s when a lot of colleges are looking at you,” Lance said. “I would like him to go to Ohio State but I’m not pushing it that hard on him. I want him to make his own decision on where he’d like to go to school.”
And if Collin called Lance up and said he’d decided to go to Michigan?
“If he says that I’ll probably have to beat his (butt),” Lance laughed.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com.
Mitcheff makes Elyria history
COLUMBUS — For the second straight season, the Elyria Pioneers leave the Division I state wrestling tournament without a state championship, but with tons of hope for the upcoming season.
Elyria brought four wrestlers to Value City Arena and left with three placers, but the Pioneers fell short of the ultimate goal of a state title after capturing a pair of them two seasons ago.
Senior 112-pounder Steve Mitcheff placed third, junior
152-pounder Zack Goins took fourth and junior 130-pounder Dalton McHenry was sixth. Junior 189-pounder Ryan Nelisse went 1-2 and just missed placing.
“My real goal was to come here and win it all,” said senior 112-pounder Steve Mitcheff, who won the 103-pound championship in 2006. “But it feels good to go out with a win to end my career.”
Mitcheff became the first four-time state placer in the history of the Elyria program, and will join his older brother Dan — who captured the 119-pound state title for the Pioneers in 2005 — next year on the Kent State wrestling team.
“Stevie improved every year regardless of his finish at state,” said Pioneers coach Erik Burnett, who guided his team to an impressive seventh-place finish with 40.5 points. “He worked harder than I’ve ever seen him during this season.
“We’re going to miss the heck out of him. He’s irreplaceable.”
While the Pioneers’ other two placers didn’t finish with wins — McHenry dropped a 9-3 decision to North Royalton’s Frank Calarco in the fifth-place match and Goins defaulted to Cincinnati Moeller’s Eric Gobin — Burnett is just happy Goins was able to walk off the mat after a head-to-head collision knocked him unconscious and left a golf ball-sized knot on his left cheekbone.
“He was wrestling fine in that last match and unfortunately they conked heads,” Burnett said. “They mentioned to me that he may not be able to continue and I thought that was the least of my concerns.”
While Goins wasn’t the picture of happiness, he seemed satisfied that he improved his fifth-place finish and that he finished with 186 takedowns this season, breaking the record of 175 set by Andrew Perez in 2002.
The Pioneers should have another strong lineup next season. They only lose three seniors and will have three state qualifiers and four district qualifiers — Kodie Egnor, Chase Churchill, Phillip Egnor and Mitchell Fadenholz — returning.
“I think we can do a lot of big things next year,” Goins said. “We’re not just a team, we’re a family. I can’t think of another sport where you share the intensity day in and day out like you do in wrestling.”
Match of the Day
It was a tournament of big wins for Southview sophomore Uland Ralston, including ones over No. 14 Angelo DiSabato, No. 7 Andrew Boehm and No. 3 Jacob Corrill, but his 5-0 win over No. 8 Garrett Manley of Holland Springfield gave him a third-place finish in the Division I 103-pound bracket. Ralston was ranked No. 11 in the state coming into the tournament.
“I feel I can only get better,” Ralston said.
Upset of the Day
Berea junior Joe Abujaradeh pulled off a shocker with a third-period pin over Mentor senior John Harasyn — the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state.
“I think I turned a lot of heads down here,” Abujaradeh said.
Abujaradeh had lost a 4-2 decision to Harasyn in the championship quarterfinals, and was trailing 4-0 when he stuck the Mentor wrestler to the mat Saturday morning.
The state placers and state qualifiers from Lorain County will return to the mats for an encore Thursday night at the Lorain County All-Star Wrestling meet at Vermilion High School at 6 p.m. The area state wrestlers from Cuyahoga County will compete in the Greater Cleveland East-West All-Star meet at Garfield Heights on Friday night.