Local foursome reach podium at Ohio wrestling

COLUMBUS — The Final Four. No, not the March madness version, but the number of local Division III wrestlers who worked their way on the podium Saturday as the 82nd annual Ohio state tournament was wrapping up its final day inside Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.

Buckeye Local’s Brian Palmer Jr. (132), Bridgeport’s Mason Kuneff (160) and Barnesville’s Brylan Clouse all finished third, while Martins Ferry’s Drake Dobson (195) was fifth. For Palmer Jr., it’s his second time earning all-state honors as he was sixth at 120 a year ago.

Palmer Jr. wrapped up a 49-5 campaign in exciting fashion. Trailing Rootstown’s Trent Duvall 6-4 with 35 seconds remaining in their back-and-forth match, the Buckeye Local sophomore executed a reversal that put the Rovers’ senior on his back. The referee slapped the mat with one tick showing.

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen someone wrestle for 35 seconds,” Buckeye Local head coach Willie Saxton advised. “He was determined and never let anything get in his way. He wrestled a complete five minutes.”

After losing in the second round to two-time state runnerup Julian Sanchez of Genoa Area, Palmer Jr. reeled off four straight wins for the bronze medal.

“I wanted in the bottom (consolation) bracket after I lost. I got sixth last year and moved up three spots this year, so next year I hope to do the same,” Palmer Jr. noted. “I just want to thank my coaches, my dad and everyone that pushed me to go as far as I could,” Palmer Jr. said.

Kuneff, who finished his career at 47-6, decisioned Hamler Patrick Henry’s T.J. Rhamy, 3-2, for his bronze prize.

“It feels pretty good. I finished 4-1 on the weekend. That’s not bad for noth being here before,” the soft-spoken Kuneff allowed. “I was 0-2 as a sophomore and 1-2 as a junior, so being here before really helped settle my nerves. The other two years when I walked out on the floor it was like ‘wow.'”

Kuneff becomes the highest placing Bulldog in 15 years.

“Mason wrestled really well,” Bridgeport head coach David Nelson said. “We’ve got great kids. They wrestled hard, and that’s Mason did. I’m happy for him to finally get on the podium.”

Clouse, now 35-3 as a senior, also ended his career with a bang. He pinned Rootstown’s Chris Langguth in 2:31.

“It feels pretty good. It’s kind of disappointing because i don’t think I wrestled my best match last night,” Clouse said of his 3-1 semifinal setback to Bluffton’s undefeated Deandre Nassar. “But I came back this morning and wrestled strong.”

Barnesville head coach Jayson Stephen was also complimentary of Clouse.

“Once you lose once you can only do as good as third and that’s all we ask,” Stephen said. “I don’t think he wrestled his best in the semifinals, but he came back and was dominant today.”

Dobson, 41-6, also ended his career with a pin, that coming in 1:56 over Harrod Allen East’s Garrett Neth. It as his school-record 33rd as he broke his uncle’s — Andy Dobson — mark of 26 quite some time ago.

“I feel I could’ve done better. I’m a little unsatisfied, but I made the podium and that was my main goal,” Dobson said. “I went out with a bang I guess.”

Martins Ferry head coach Chad Ware was pleased with his senior’s performance.

“As a seventh grader, Drake wasn’t very good. He has come leaps and bounds,” Ware said. “He had a goal a little higher than fifth, but he made the podium as a senior.”

In Division II, Steubenville had six individuals reach the podium, with Peyton Blasko (126), Jacson Muldrew (138) and Anthony Rice (152) all finishing their careers in third place. Blasko has now earned all-state honors twice, while Muldrew and Rice have made the podium three times. Muldrew’s first state placement came as a freshman at Shadyside.

Placing fourth for Big Red were Tyler Muldrew (132) and David Tuttle (182). Ethan Pappas (160) was sixth.

“Real good weekend. Once you make it to the state tournament everyone is good,” Steubenville head coch Mike Blackburn said. “We had a pretty good weekend.”

Beaver Local’s Logan Ours (120) and Skyler Lasure (145) both finished sixth.

East Liverpool’s Skyler Wooley (220) was fifth.

Beaver Local’s Cole McComas was competing for the Division II title at 126 pounds late Saturday night.