8 Geauga Wrestlers Punch Tickets to Columbus
March 10, 2023 by Alan Kornspan

Geauga County boys wrestlers participated March 3 and 4 in district championships, while Geauga County girls wrestlers competed March 5 in regional championships.

Wrestling photos click here.

Geauga County boys wrestlers participated March 3 and 4 in district championships, while Geauga County girls wrestlers competed March 5 in regional championships.

Eight, in all, qualified for the OHSAA state tournament in Columbus: Josh Brown, Johnny Heiden and Colin Hering from Berkshire; Ben DiMarco and Sean Doyle from Kenston; Will Vucetic from Chardon; Bryce Wheatley from NDCL; and Brian Denamen from West Geauga.

Rylie Leichtman from Cardinal and Hope Pinnette from Kenston competed at Mentor High School in the OHSAA Girls Wrestling Regional Tournament.

Placing sixth, Leichtman made the podium.

DiMarco, Doyle, Denamen and Wheatley qualified for the OHSAA Division II state championship at Garfield Heights High School.

DiMarco, a state-ranked senior from Kenston, had not wrestled since January due to an injury. However, a couple weeks ago, he received clearance to return to the mat and begin his training for the OHSAA tournament.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” DiMarco said. “I’ve only had a couple of weeks of practice. The last time I wrestled, competed, was Jan. 4. Didn’t think I was going to get to wrestle again. This is where I am supposed to be, and it’s amazing.”

Placing third, DiMarco clinched his state tournament berth when he defeated Jackson Dougherty from Tallmadge.

“It’s been a heck of a week,” DiMarco said. “I had a fall (pin) in the first match against a kid from Jefferson Area. Won my second match, major decision, to punch my ticket to the semis.

“In the blood round (to qualify for states), I had a kid ranked above me. Just fought the whole match and ended up winning 7-3 (against Dougherty).”

Joining DiMarco at states from Kenston will be junior state-ranked wrestler Doyle.

Doyle punched his ticket to states when he defeated Jakob Baxter from Howland, 3-1.

“Just finished up districts, and we’re going to states, baby, let’s go,” Doyle said. “I knew it was going to be a grind on the second day. But deep down, I knew I wanted it and I would work hard enough, so I came in today with a good mindset (and) washed what happened yesterday. Focused on my matches today, one at a time. Really came in with good technique, hydrated well, and just came out and performed.

“I knew my match was going to go late in the period. That’s where I strive, I work hard in the room, so my gas tank is big. So I know once I am at the end, their wanting to quit is when I can really punish them.”

NDCL’s state-ranked wrestler, Wheatley, is returning to the state tournament for the second year in a row. This year, though, he will be competing in the 190 pound weight class rather than the 175.

“We had a real good tournament out here,” Wheatley said. “Really good matches. We had six top-ranked kids in the state in my weight class, so it was real tough.”

“Ended up having a rematch of the sectional finals last week against Dillon Badiu from Buckeye. Ended up beating him out 3-1 and punched my ticket to the states, second year in a row.”

Denamen, a freshman from West Geauga, also qualified for states from the Garfield Heights district.

Denamen had an amazing come-from-behind victory in the blood round to qualify for states. He defeated Sean Loucks from Ravenna, 8-7.

West Geauga Head Coach Carmen Russo recalled the process.

“That one match where he (Brian) came back to go to states, he was down 5-2, and then he got the take down,” Russo said. “It was 5-4, and then we let him up, and then we took him down and made it 6-6. It was under a minute and we had a decision to make, tough decision: do we let him up, do we try to ride him out? And so we made the decision to let him up with about 55 seconds, and then Brian took him down with about 28 seconds. He had a stalling warning against him. Brian was able to hold him down.”

“I think to me, the pivotal point was Brian trusting our decision to let him up twice and take him down. He got that final takedown, which sent him into the state tournament.”

The OHSAA State Boys and Girls Wrestling tournaments will run March 10 through 12 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.