Here are five storylines to watch for this high school wrestling season.
1. Graham’s 18th straight Division II state team title to finish the season in early March at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center is a given. The Falcons are loaded with five returning state champions: Jordan Crace, Mitch Moore, J.D. Stickley, Ryan Thomas and Rocky Jordan. A senior, Moore could join the elite four-time champion club. Jordan, also a senior, is seeking his third state title. There are four other Falcons’ returning state placers.
Graham has 19 overall team titles; its first in 1982 when current coach Jeff Jordan and his brother Jim anchored the Falcons. Graham is second only to Lakewood St. Edward’s 31 big-school team titles, including 19 of the last 21 seasons.
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2. The Ohio High School Athletic Association gave teams the option of bumping up a division for the state duals tournament. Graham coach Jeff Jordan was game for that. Count on Graham and St. Edward being placed in opposite brackets and packing OSU’s St. John Arena for a rousing D-I finals showdown.
3. Out of bounds won’t necessarily stop a pin anymore. That’s a major rule change and more in line with collegiate wrestling. It doesn’t matter if a wrestler is on his back and out of bounds, as long as his opponent has one point – an arm, leg or foot – in bounds.
4. It’s on Springfield High School seniors Joe Cochran and Jacob Yost to keep the Wildcats in postseason contention. Cochran was 41-4 at 220 pounds last season, winning Greater Western Ohio Conference, sectional and district titles and placing fourth in the D-I state meet. Yost (170) was 32-9, placing runner-up in the GWOC and sectional and sixth at district.
5. Southeastern has its deepest lineup in program history according to coach Joe Hall, who expects to fill all but one weight class by the postseason. A two-time Ohio Heritage Conference runner-up to Mechanicsburg, the Trojans feature Jesse Mitchell (160), a three-time district qualifier who has 105 career wins and Lane McCombs (120/126), a two-time district qualifier and OHC champion.