Poland’s Audi, others move on
COLUMBUS – Mike Audi’s initial experience at the State Wrestling Tournament left him a lot like most kids’ first time at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
“That was Oh my God,” said the Poland junior, stumbling over his words after a 4-2 victory in the first round of the 170-pound weight class. “It was a little more intense than I thought. I didn’t expect there to be that many people here.”
The 19,500-capacity arena can rattle just about anyone, as most wrestlers are used to performing in a high school gymnasium in front of a couple hundred fans, but Audi fought through the nerves to secure a key victory. A loss would have sent Audi to the consolation bracket and put his season on the brink.
Audi, now 36-9, secured a takedown late in the first period for a 2-0 lead that alleviated some of his anxiety.
“I was excited because I’ve never seen a crowd like that,” he said. “I’m nervous before every match. Once you’re out on the mat and shake hands, it goes away. I really started to feel comfortable when I knew I could take him on my feet. It was huge. Every match is going to be a close match, so getting ahead is big.”
He earned escapes in the second and third periods to take a 4-2 lead and controlled his opponent, Mark Barrow, 32-2, of New Philadlephia, for the final 2 minutes for the win. Audi faces senior Wyatt Running of Clarksville Clinton-Massie, a two-time state placer with a 37-4 record, in today’s quarterfinals.
Also reaching the quarterfinals was Grand Valley 182-pounder, Glenn Zaller, a returning state qualifier who said he remembered suffering from the jitters last year and made sure it didn’t happen again in 2013.
“I’m a lot more confident,” said Zaller, a junior who beat Jared Leasure of Caldwell and improved his record to 41-3. “I wasn’t expecting to get here as a sophomore. Now, I’m expecting to place. That’s what I’m here for.”
Zaller squares off with B.J. Toal of Troy Christian, the returning Division III state champion at 182 pounds at approximately 10 a.m. today.
Zaller’s teammate, 152-pound Sean Szitas lost his first-round match, 14-6, and the senior lost, 8-5, in the final seconds of his consolation match, which eliminated him from the tournament.
Garfield’s Kevin Stock, a state runner-up at 182 pounds last year, defeated Jordan Leasure of Amanda-Clearcreek, 13-3, in the first round. Stock, now 8-0, didn’t join the G-Men until the sectional tournament on Feb. 17 because he lost his brother in a car accident in October and said he wasn’t ready for such a commitment. He wrestles Armani Robinson of Greenview, who’s 47-2, in the semifinals.
In Division II, Canfield’s John Poullas, a 170-pound senior, and Poland’s Dante Ginnetti, a 106-pound freshman, endured first-round pins. Poullas fell to Matt Dennis of Claymont in 1:43, and Ginnetti lost in 43 seconds to Tyler Warner, also of Claymont. Poullas came back to win his consolation match, but Ginnetti did not. Southeast’s Brandon James, a senior 170-pounder, pinned Mark Cole of Steubenville in 48 seconds.
Boardman’s Nick Mancini won his opening match in Division I. The 113-pound senior defeated Jared Davis of Oregon Clay, 8-1. Teammate Joe Cordova dropped his initial bout, 12-2, to Nate Hall of Olentangy. Cordova also suffered a defeat in the first round of consolations and was eliminated.