COLUMBUS — The ghosts of the past can be the catalysts for the future, especially in high school wrestling where a quartet of Medina County athletes advanced to the state finals after some hard-willed victories.
The Wadsworth duo of Luke Baughman (138 pounds) and Jordan Earnest (285) will join Medina’s Brady Chrisman (170) in the Division I finals, while Buckeye’s Mike Clark (138) will be on the raised mats today with a chance at immortality tonight.
Clark has done pretty much everything for the Bucks this season at 47-2. On Friday, the senior became the first state finalist since 2005 when Kenny Quallich won a championship.
“A lot of times throughout high school I’ve been getting compared to Kenny,” Clark said. “To be a state champion like Kenny would be huge. It showed how hard I worked over the summer to get to this point and be in the finals.”
That hard work paid off when he scored a takedown in the first period and hung on for a 2-0 win. He’ll face returning state placer Luke Wymer of St. Vincent-St. Mary tonight in the final.
“He’s definitely deserving,” Bucks coach Rich Conkle said. “He’s put four years, six years, eight years for this. This has always been the apple dangling out there. Last year was a huge disappointment (Clark qualified for state but didn’t place). He’s made this the goal all year to get here, win here and do this.”
The same can be said for Chrisman, who is Medina’s sixth state finalist and its first since 2011 (Teddy Hammer).
The Bees have had only two state champions (Mark Balog, 1996, Jerry Lee, 1977) and that was more on the mind of Chrisman after he beat Cornell Beachem of Winton Woods 3-2.
Chrisman will face projected state champion Carson Kharchla of Liberty in the final.
“When I was in youth, I was watching Teddy and Matt Hammer and (Ryan) Dressler. They were all great inspirations for me. I want to be inspirations for the little guys like my brother and his drill partners.
“It would mean the world to me to be the third state champion. It’s what I’ve worked my whole life for. I’m not satisfied. I need to get to the top of the podium. That’s been the lifelong goal. Second doesn’t cut it.”
The same can be said for Baughman, who has a rather famous brother in Noah Baughman.
Luke Baughman wrestled with the two-time Gazette MVP and got to see him rack up 164 career victories and state titles in 2014 and 2016.
The 138-pound junior stepped out of that shadow a bit with a 5-3 win over Brecksville’s Marco Regalbuto in the semifinals.
He’ll face St. Edward’s Bryce Andonian, who is ranked second by Intermatwrestle.com’s Josh Lowe. The two faced each other in the state duals with Andonian coming out on top 4-3.
“He’s had that kind of year where he’s been breaking all kinds of barriers,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “The brothers are encouraging. That’s what is nice. It’s not like, ‘You can’t be here.’ They want him to pass them. It’s the beauty of it all.”
Earnest reached his second straight semifinal, but the Ohio University commit and projected state champion didn’t need much encouragement.
The 285-pound senior had all the extra oomph he needed when he went to practice.
The great litany of heavyweight champions for the Grizzlies sits high on the walls in Nick Tavanello, Ben Buzzelli and two-time champion Bobby Jones.
“In practice, we put our legs up on the wall and all you can see is (every champion) on the wall,” Earnest said. “It’s all you see and all you think about is having your face up there to be remembered.”
All that stands in the way after he pinned projected state runner-up Matt Lee of Amherst is a championship with St. Xavier’s Jack Heyob.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.