COLUMBUS — Delta senior heavyweight Austin Kohlhofer can ride off into the sunset of his high school career as a two-time state champion after claiming his second consecutive Division III crown at the OHSAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament which began on Friday and concluded Sunday night with the finals.
The tournament was back at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center for the first time since the 2019 competition.
Delta ended up at fourth in the team standings with 66 points. Legacy Christian took first with 136 points, Milan Edison was runner-up with 78, and Mechanicsburg third with 69.5. Archbold tied with Gibsonburg for 25th, each garnering 23 points.
For Kohlhofer, last season he claimed the 220-pound state title. This year he rolled to the final with a pin in 45 seconds over Tyler Shellenbarger of Mogadore, a pin in 1:53 over Will Fox of Coldwater in the quarterfinal, and 3:03 against Eli Criblez of Allen East in the semifinal.
The final was a bit closer, but Kohlhofer still came out on top for a 5-1 victory over Versailles senior Taran Tyo.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Kohlhofer said. “Going from 220, winning it there pretty dominantly, to going to heavyweight (and winning) almost just as dominantly — I wouldn’t say as much just cause only 5-1 (win in the final). The kid was big, the kid was strong. So it was hard to get to what I needed to. But, in the end, I came out on top like I knew I would.”
Ahead 3-1 going into the third period, he was able to secure his win with a takedown.
“I know I have more endurance than any one of these heavyweights,” Kohlhofer said. “So I know, it might look like a close match on the scoreboard, but I know I’m in control at all times. And I’ll come out on top. I’ve never been one to score a whole lot of points as it is. My technique is just recently getting there. Points don’t always come in multiples like other guys that have come through our program. But I know, 3-1 match, I have control the whole time.”
The Panther senior thought his finals opponent might have made a mistake in choosing to start the third period in neutral position, instead of taking down where he could have gotten a point off an escape to trim Kohlhofer’s lead to one.
“When he chose neutral I knew, biggest mistake of his life,” admitted Kohlhofer. “I knew he wasn’t going to take me down. And I knew I wouldn’t have had to go into overtime. If I maybe couldn’t have kept him down — because there has been guys I couldn’t keep down. But when he chose neutral, instead of trying to get the easy point (from an escape), I knew right then and there match was over. Match was mine. You can ask some of my buddies. I looked right at them, smiled, turned (back) around, got lined up and got right to work.”
Kohlhofer caps his senior year with a 43-1 record. He was 52-0 as a junior for a 95-1 mark over a two-year span.
The first two finals of the night for Fulton County wrestlers ended in defeat, as Adam Mattin of Delta fell 8-1 against Casper Caizzo of Norwalk St. Paul at 106 pounds and Archbold’s Brodie Dominique was nipped by Pierce Taylor of McNicholas 3-2.
However, neither competitor should hang their head because of the end result.
Mattin, a freshman, is state runner-up after getting fourth in the D-III district at Rossford the week prior. He handed Hunter Lacy of Seneca East — the Rossford District champion — his first loss of the season in the semifinal, edging him 4-3.
Before that, Mattin had beaten Kyle Schroer of Troy Christian 10-4 and then Caiden Heller of Waynedale 9-2 in the quarterfinal.
But Caizzo, the district runner-up at Rossford, was too much to handle in the title match.
“He’s really strong,” explained Mattin. “(He) put me in uncomfortable situations. Forced me into things I didn’t want to do. Kind of hard to wrestle your best when you’re not in the positions you want to be. He’s just a good wrestler.”
Overall though, he felt pretty good about his tournament run. “I felt like I wrestled well up until the finals. Just got stuff to work on,” Mattin said.
Blue Streak sophomore Dominique reached the 144-pound final after a pin of Newark Catholic’s Caden Canning, then decision victories against Boede Campbell of Legacy Christian and Jarrett Hornish of Wayne Trace.
In the championship, he would be held off by senior Pierce Taylor of McNicholas by way of a 3-2 decision. It was a late takedown in the final period that helped Taylor prevail.
Despite the defeat, Dominique should still be proud of the accomplishment of getting to a state final so young according to his coach — and after placing seventh at 138 pounds a year ago.
“Obviously for a sophomore to get to the state title match is a big thing,” said Archbold mentor Brian Becher. “It’s a lot more fun winning obviously. I told him ahead of time, being Division III, his overall goal is to be a Division I college wrestler. Winning or losing that match really has no bearing on what his overall goal was. Just something that would be celebrated tonight and highly thought of the rest of his life. But those things are a feather in your cap.
“Sometimes the hard losses are the ones that motivate you to work a little bit harder. It might be a blessing in disguise in the overall grand scheme of things.”
Dominique felt nerves might have played a factor in the result in the final.
“I just think I was nervous” he explained. “I wasn’t on my attacks. He knew what I was going to hit; I was trying to go to that underhook. He had heavy hands, was hard to get to my attacks and everything. But he’s a good wrestler. I’ll be back, it’s only my sophomore year.”
“I could tell from the beginning the kid was really strong from the ties, and Brodie was not able to control from that underhook position,” added Becher of the match. “That guy doesn’t attack a whole lot — we knew he wasn’t going to. But you know, he went pretty hard at the end there to go get a leg attack to stay out of overtime. Just an unfortunate situation.”
Placements were captured earlier in the day Sunday by area wrestlers. Delta’s two wrestlers that missed out on the finals, seniors Carson Chiesa and Evan Perry, took third and eighth in their respective weight classes.
Chiesa lost just one match for his tournament en route to his third place finish at 126 pounds in Division III.
“Just stay focused,” said Chiesa on what he felt he did well at the tournament. “Not too many distractions outside of the wrestling room. Kept focused on my school work and what I was doing to crisp up my technique.”
After dropping a 23-8 technical fall to undefeated Max Shore of Miami East — the eventual champion — he won a pair of close matches in the consolation semifinal and third place match. Chiesa won 3-1 versus Chase Vanderhorst of Covington, then held off Logan Attisano of Legacy Christian 3-2 for third.
“Actually the kid that I wrestled for third and fourth (Attisano), I lost to him twice last year,” Chiesa said. “Just had to trust what I was doing in the (wrestling) room every day. Know that now, as long as I keep a good mentality throughout the match, I’ll be fine.”
He was also pleased to be able to up his placement from a year ago when he finished sixth at 120 pounds. “It’s amazing,” said the Panther senior. “Obviously, lost in the semis, the kid that I had (Shore), nobody’s gonna beat him. Just good to know that I had the right mindset to battle back and finish the best that I could.”
Chiesa points to the culture built by Delta wrestling in the past as a factor for their success this year — having four place at state.
“We have so many people come in from previous years. They come in, they’re working with every one of our guys. Adam Mattin’s in the finals, all (his) brothers come in and help us. We’ve had pretty good heavyweights, they come in and help our heavyweight (Kohlhofer) out,” said Chiesa.
Perry went 2-3 and finished eighth at 157 pounds for Delta. He fell narrowly in the seventh place match, 3-1 versus Dickie Engel of Reading.
Wauseon ended up with nine competing at state in Division II with Manny Gante being added in at 150 pounds, but only Lawson Grime came away with a placement at 138 pounds.
The Wauseon senior lost his first match of the tournament, however, managed to work back through. In the consolation bracket he won by forfeit versus Conner Roback of Licking Valley, then 5-3 over both Hayden Hughes of St. Paris Graham and Jack Sparent of West Geauga.
That put Grime in the consolation semifinal Sunday where he fell in a battle with Lance Overmyer of Clyde, 5-4. Not too long after, he was back in action in the fifth place match and came out on top of Thane McCoy of Wilmington, 7-5.
“It’s crazy. Finally realizing that it’s actually over,” said Grime on ending his career with a fifth place finish. “All the hard work I put in, I would say has paid off in the last two weeks at least. I think districts was my best tournament of my life for sure. State was just some icing on the cake. Obviously, I would have rather made the finals.
“But I’m happy with fifth. Because all of my life I wanted top five, and I’m finally there. Things didn’t go my way in the consi semis, obviously, but they went my way in the last match of my career so I’m happy.”
“You know I think the biggest thing for him, like he said, he had goals of being a state finalist. And when that doesn’t happen, you have to readjust your goals quickly. I think he did that,” said Wauseon Coach Mike Ritter. “Same thing with the consi semis, he wanted to be top three — didn’t happen — we got a quick turnaround and you got to refocus really fast. I think he did that very well. We talked about it before, that, you don’t get a chance very often to have your last high school match be a win at the state tournament. That’s a thing that he can always carry with him.”
Collin Twigg (113), Larry Moreno (126), Benicio Torres (144), Connor Twigg (157) and Zaidan Kessler (175) all finished 1-2 for the Indians. Zaden Torres (132), Gante (150), and Connor Nagel (165) were 0-2.
Wauseon tied for 23rd in the D-II team standings at 21 points.
Hayden Dickman of Archbold went 1-2 at 190 pounds in his first trip to state. His win was a pin of Jonah Bibler of Marion Pleasant in his first consolation match, however, his losses were both by decision to Owen Pummel of Indian Lake and Owen Johnson of Liberty Center.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.