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Graham shooting for wrestling team state title

Graham High School wrestling coach Jeff Jordan has taken some good natured ribbing this week from members of his team.

Cable 9, a part of Western Reserve Cable Television, recently released its latest batch of Classic State Title Matches, and about 19 minutes into the video, there is Jordan’s state title match from 1982.

“They (the team) have been telling me they saw the video and their first comment is, ‘Coach you were a little skinny guy,’ ” Jordan said with a laugh.

Saturday, Jordan returns to the venue where he claimed all four of his individual state titles and helped the Falcons claim their first team title in 1982 for the OHSAA team state tournament. Graham opens the tournament at 11 a.m. against eighth-seeded Wilmington.

“It’s got some great memories,” Jordan said of St. John Arena at Columbus. “Hopefully next year, I will have both sons (Bo and Micah) stepping out on the mat representing Ohio State. I plan on enjoying St. John for a long time.”

In addition to a perfect 16-0 record in high school at the venue, Jordan was undefeated there as a visitor when he was at the University of Wisconsin. Graham also captured the first state team tournament title there last season.

“It is a big stage to wrestle on,” Jordan said. “When you walk out on that floor, you can get nervous.”

After opening with Wilmington, the Falcons could see opponents in the next two rounds who also have multiple wrestlers ranked in the state and have a chance to push Graham to the limit.

One of the differences in a close match, Jordan hopes, is that the Falcons enter the tournament battle tested.

With duals in the regular season against nationally ranked Blair Academy (N.J.) as well as Division I state tournament participants Lakewood St. Edward and Mason, Jordan has loaded the schedule with tough opponents .

“I think our annual schedule helps us,” Jordan said. “The team is ready to go because we focus in on those match-ups and that helps us.”

The Falcons are solid from 106 to 160 with Micah Jordan, Alex Marinelli, Eli Seipel, Justin and Eli Stickley, Mario Kastl, Kyle Lawson, but the upper weights have been a cause of concern in dual meets.

“We can’t give up extra points there, I am concerned about the top end, especially if we see Claymont,” Jordan said of a possible state title rematch. “Our little guys need to go out and get on them and get big points on the board and our big guys need to hold on and stay strong.”

With the individual state tournament approaching, Jordan has pointed one thing out to the team as they prepare to defend the team title this weekend.

“This is the last real thing we can do as a team,” Jordan said. “I hope we can go out and compete and get a quick start to the postseason.”

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