Mancini’s title hopes come up short

COLUMBUS – Finding a flaw in his opponent’s wrestling is something Boardman’s Nick Mancini has done almost perfectly during a spectacular senior season.

He came into his Division I semifinal match at the State Wrestling Tournament with a 47-2 record, thanks in large part to a spectacular defense that has helped him stifle attacks from some of the state’s best wrestlers. His coach, and father, Dom Mancini said Nick is able to turn an opponent’s offense around and use it against them.

Unfortunately, the strength of Broadview Heights’ Aaron Assad covered up any flaws he may have had during the 113-pound semifinal at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on Friday.

Assad used brute strength to fend off Mancini and scored a second-period reversal to win, 2-1, and advance to the state finals.

“We didn’t get in any positions that we could score from,” Dom Mancini said. “We needed to be able to create a situation where we could score from, and it just wasn’t there.”

The game plan was going well for Nick during for most of the match. An amazing scramble by Mancini allowed him to avoid a takedown attempt by Assad and keep the match tied at zero, which is right where Nick said he wanted it. Mancini then took a 1-0 lead on an escape. He held that advantage until Assad secured a reversal in the third period, going up 2-1. Mancini scrambled for the last minute, forcing a stalling call on Assad, but he wasn’t able to cut loose and tie the match.

“He just locked up on my right arm real hard, and I couldn’t get up,” Mancini said. “He’s a tough wrestler on top. And It was almost impossible to score on him. He was so strong, his hands just blocked everything I was trying.”

Mancini, a three-time state qualifier, automatically places after reaching the semifinals, and he can finish as high as third. He will wrestle at 10 a.m. to determine if he wrestles for third or fifth place. He had an interesting way of putting the loss behind him and refocusing.

“I’m going to eat a lot of good food and try to be happy,” he said. “I’ll have a good mentality (today) and just try and take it to this guy.”

WHISLER BATTLES BACK: Howland’s David Brian Whisler wasn’t about to let one loss ruin his first experience at the State Wrestling Tournament.

That wasn’t easy to do when the sophomore’s goal of winning a state title was erased with a 6-3 loss to Seth Williams of Tiffin Columbian in a Division II, 152-pound quarterfinal match.

“It’s always kind of hard to get over a loss, but I know that you better get over it quick or you won’t wrestle good in your next match,” he said. “It’s important to put that in the back of your head and just go out there and wrestle the next one to win.”

Whisler rebounded by winning his next two bouts, a 5-2 decision over Nick Weininger of Dover, and a 9-0 major decision over Kenneth Faulkner of West Branch. Whisler, who now owns a 33-6 record, wrestled Faulkner twice this year already, beating him in both Eastern Ohio Wrestling Tournament and the sectional tournament. He wrestles Blake Miller of Clyde today in the consolation semifinals. The winner wrestles for third place and the loser wrestles for fifth.

“Third place is the new state title,” he said with a laugh. “I feel real good. I feel like I’m peaking at the right time, and my teammates are doing the same.”

CANFIELD’S POULLAS IN FOR SEVENTH: Canfield’s John Poullas beat a familiar foe in a Division II, 170-pound consolation match to earn a spot on the podium. Poullas defeated Poland’s Mike Audi, 8-3, (his fourth win over Audi this season), and while he fell to Chris Moore of Clyde in the next round, he automatically placed with the victory over Audi. Southeast’s Brandon James, also in the 170-pound weight class in Division II, lost 21-13, in a semifinal match. He wrestles today to determine if he wrestles for third or fifth place.