Sunday, March 04, 2001

Six local wrestlers win state titles

By Chris Yeager
Enquirer contributor

        COLUMBUS — Before the Ohio state wrestling championships begin, the athletes participate in a “Parade of Champions.” Greater Cincinnati wrestlers put on a parade of their own Saturday, winning six titles out of seven tries.

        Lakota West's Matt McIntire (135 pounds), Moeller's Joe Zinkan (140), Fairfield's Mike Wahoff (145) and Lakota East's Hetag Pliev (171) won Division I titles.

        Kings' John Velez (Division II, 112 pounds) and Reading's Tim Kelly (Division III, 152) were also state champions.

        When Velez looked into the eyes of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Josh Zupancic, his undefeated opponent in the 112 Division II state final, he saw a nervous wrestler.

        “That kid looked like John looked last year. This year, John was glaring back into it,” Kings coach Joe Woodall said.

        “I got confidence,” Velez said. “Then I knew I'd win.”

        That Velez did, becoming Kings' first state wrestling champion with a 3-1 decision.

        Reading's Tim Kelly said Friday night that he was on a mission. That mission was accomplished as Kelly beat Magnolia Sandy Valley's Dwayne Dauski 6-3 for the Division III 152-pound crown.

        “I wanted to stay in his face hard for the whole six minutes,” Kelly said. “When I needed to score, I scored.”

        Reading coach Dick Engel was pleased to see the school get its second state wrestling champion. “Tim just wore him down,” he said. “We worked on staying in the other guys' faces and backing them up.”

        Reading finished fifth in the Division III team standings, its best finish ever.

        At the beginning of the year, Lakota West's McIntire said he wanted his own banner over the school's main hallway, one to match that of the 1999 girls soccer state champs. Lakota West now may have to give him one.

        McIntire came out hot, put his opponent, Ryan West of Dayton Carroll, on the defensive from the start. The result was a 6-2 win and the Division I 135-pound state championship, Lakota West's first in wrestling.

        McIntire and West split two previous matches. West won the last one in the district finals, the only blemish on McIntire's record this season.

        “I knew West would be in the finals because he's one of the best,” McIntire said. “I worked all week on defending against his left arm tie-up.”

        Moeller got another state championship this year as Zinkan beat Massillon Jackson's Jason Bake 3-1 at 140 pounds in Division I. Bake was a defending champion.

        The title is a family matter now. Joe joins his brother Tom, who won titles in 1991 and '93, as a winner.

        Fairfield's Wahoff, wrestling with his customary ag gressiveness, manhandled Beford's Ed Mahonex, winning the Division I 145-pound title 15-3.

        “I went out there trying to give it everything I've got,” Wahoff said. “I knew this was my last match and everything fell together perfectly.”

        If you look away when Lakota East's Pliev wrestles, you can miss something beautiful. Like the lateral drop he laid on Berea's Alex Camargo, one that led to a second-period pin and his first state title, at 171 pounds in Division I.

        Bob Latessa, Lakota East head coach, said Pliev went through a number of potential set-ups before making his move: “He's that sophisticated in his offense. He doesn't force it. He knows how to wrestle.”

        Though Moeller fell short of challenging perennial Division I power Lakewood St. Edward, the Crusaders still finished second for the second year in a row.

        Moeller placed six wrestlers and had one champion, improving on last year's one champion and four placers.

        Franklin's Matt Franklin lost 13-1 to Chagrin Falls Kenston's undefeated Ricky Duebel in the Division II 103-pound final.

        Elder's Nick Spatola became the Panthers' first three-time placer, taking third at 130 pounds. With his best finish ever at the state tourney, Spatola closed out his high school career as Elder's all-time wins leader.


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