Lorain's Eli Garcia, Westlake's Logan Paul end careers with wins (State wrestling notes)

COLUMBUS — Saturday marked the end of the OHSAA Wrestling Championships, and for many local wrestlers it also marked the end of their high school careers. For a number of those that were state placers, it was bittersweet.

Division I

Lorain’s Eli Garcia finished his senior year by finishing fifth in the 138-pound bracket. Garcia became just the third wrestler to place at state since Lorain High School formed.

In his consolation semifinal match, Garcia ran into a familiar foe when he faced St. Edward’s Colin Heffernan. Heffernan, who was projected to win the state title by many, defeated Garcia in both the sectional tournament at Lorain and the district tournament last week at Cleveland State.

Saturday in Columbus, Heffernan once again got the decision, this time 6-3.

“We went at it, and he just came out on top again,” Garcia said. “I guess you could say he out-wrestled me, but I don’t know.”

The loss moved Garcia down to the fifth-place match, where he faced Adam Sams, of Fairfield. In Friday’s championship semifinals, Sams lost to Madison’s Nick Montgomery by a 3:03 pin fall. Coincidentally, Montgomery was the wrestler that defeated Garcia in the championship quarters.

Garcia quickly took control of his match and earned the 4-2 victory.

“This year here at state was good. It was definitely better than the last time I was here,” Garcia said. “It feels good to come out on top in my last high school match. It’s not as high as I wanted to finish, but I came out on top in the last one. That’s always good.”

Westlake’s Logan Paul also wrapped up his high school career with a win, finishing fifth in the 182-pound bracket.

“Winning my last high school match means a ton. Our coaches told me that if I’m going to go out, go out a winner,” Paul said. “To end on a win is big for me. I know I lost to the same guy twice, but ending on a win is going to leave a good feeling for the rest of my life.”

In his consolation semifinal match, Paul face Loveland’s Gunner Lay, the same wrestler who defeated him in the opening round of the tournament. While there was some controversy in the way the first match ended, Paul said losing the second time to Lay takes away a little of the bitter taste in his mouth from the first meeting.

“It kind of does a little bit,” Paul said. “It sucks losing, but it assures me I didn’t wrestle a terrible match. I think he’s just a little better wrestler than me. Maybe with some film, and stuff like that, I think I could beat him. If I lose to a guy, it’s because they’re a better wrestler, not because I gave up or because I didn’t work hard enough.”

Though he didn’t reach his ultimate goal of winning the state title, the Westlake senior said he’s happy to have made the podium.

“I’m a believer in the quote that if you shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” he said. “I knew if I aimed for the state championship, although I may not get it, I’d still end up high. That’s exactly what happened.”

Division II

Both Evan Cheek and senior Dalton Howard finished fourth after losing their consolation finals. While the loss ends Howard’s career, the loss may give Cheek, a sophomore, the push he needs to get even better.

“I’ve learned that I need to keep fighting and not get down on myself,” Cheek said. “I have to not let little things, like getting taken down, get to me. This definitely motivates me to get better. It’s going to drive me in the offseason.”

Edison coach Davy Hermes was proud of the way his team wrestled over the weekend.

“They both wrestled tough,” Hermes said. “Evan is just a sophomore, and it’s his first time down here. It’s easy to let nerves get to you down here your first time. We didn’t think he looked like himself all weekend. Coming in here and getting fourth your first time, he did a great job.

“Dalton had a great career. He ran into a four-time state champ in the semifinals, so there’s not much you can do there. He wrestled tough, though. He left it all out there on the mat, and I couldn’t be more proud of him as a senior.”

Howard would have liked to have been able to win that last match.

“I wanted to get third and end my career on a win,” Howard said. “It just didn’t happen that way. It’s always been my goal to get in the top four, so I did that. A loss still hurts.”

The next few years also look pretty bright for Perkins. Freshman Kordell Chaney finished fifth in the 220-pound bracket after reaching the championship semifinals on Friday.

Junior Tony Didion also placed at the state tournament, finishing seventh after winning his final match over London’s Owen Shoemaker convincingly by a 16-0 tech fall.

“I just wanted to go out with a win,” Didion said. “I just didn’t want to take eighth because you never really know if they even deserved it. Placing in state was huge. I’ve never had a feeling like it before.”

Didion — who made his first trip to the state tournament this weekend — said coming out of that tunnel for his first match was a little overwhelming.

“You come out of the tunnel and it’s pitch black. All of a sudden you come out to these bright lights with everybody watching. It’s crazy,” he said. “In my first match, I don’t think I was ready for it. It was breathtaking.”

Division III

Matt Hollingsworth became just the fourth state-placer in the history of Clearview on Saturday by finishing fifth in the 132-pound bracket, a 3-2 win over Dayton Christian’s Alex Becker.

“This feels good. It was a really good experience,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s something I’ll remember and take with me on to later events in my life.”

Making the trip to state extra special for Hollingsworth was having his twin brother, Mike, also qualify for the state tournament.

“It was great. This is what we’ve worked for,” Matt Hollingsworth said. “It was nice to see our hard work pay off.”

Clearview coach Jason Steadman said that once Matt Hollingsworth started to believe in his ability, his season turned around.

“I think it was the Midpark tournament. He hadn’t won a finals match before that,” Steadman said. “Ever since winning that tournament, his confidence level was up. I think that was the thing with him, he just didn’t believe.”

St. Paul also had two state-placers at this years tournament in senior Connor Careless and sophomore Wes Fritz.

Careless (285) finished eighth after losing his final match to Brookville’s Aaron Honious 3-1. Fritz finished third after winning the consolation finals with a 4-1 decision over Galion’s Zac Tupps.

“This is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Fritz said. “It was especially nice beating the kid, (Tupps), that beat me in sectionals. He also won my district, so beating him here was pretty sweet.”

According to St. Paul coach Pat Welfle, the win has already motivated Fritz to work even harder in the offseason.

“Something like this always gets you going,” he said. “He’s already got plans of things that he can look at and go to over the summer.

“I also like him taking third. I told him I like taking third more than second, just because you win in the finals. If you finish second, you lose and it’s not all that much better than third. Third you win.”

Keystone’s Jacob Worthington finished in sixth place after having to default his fifth-place match due to injury.

St. Mary’s Alex Smith finished fifth by winning his final match 11-6, while teammate Adam Guerra finished eighth.


Last Updated: 3/2/2013 11:31:12 PM EST

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