Graham High School wrestling coach Jeff Jordan got a blast from the past at the first Ohio High School Athletic Association team tournament last season.
The finals brought him back to St. John Arena at Ohio State.
It is the same site where Jordan claimed all four of his individual titles in the early 1980s for the Falcons.
“It is just a great feeling being in an arena with such nostalgia,” Jordan said of returning.
The Falcons won the Division II team tournament — as well as the individual tournament — and are primed to claim the title again this year, and the duals, which start Wednesday, give Jordan a chance to see where the challengers stack up late in the season.
“Typically the top teams in the state do have some very tough individuals,” Jordan said. “So it does give you a head-to-head look at what the competition at the individual state tournament might look like.”
And it gives the wrestlers who won’t earn a medal at the end of the year a chance to help their team claim one.
And therein lies the challenge.
“The biggest challenge of the state duals is making sure that each wrestler from 106 to heavyweight is prepared to wrestle every week of the three-week state dual process,” Jordan said. “A hole in a dual meet presents a greater problem than in an individual tournament.”
The Falcons aren’t the only ones with aspirations of getting to the state tournament when the duals begin.
Graham opens with Shawnee at Graham High School. The place to be in D-II will be Urbana, where the second-seeded Hillclimbers face off with Greenville before facing the winner of Kenton Ridge and Northwestern.
Mechanicsburg will host the first round as well in D-III. The second-seeded Indians should face third seed Versailles with a shot to move on. The Tigers are the defending regional champs.
Greeneview, the third-ranked D-III team in the state, enters as the third seed and will be at Brookville to open the tournament.
Tecumseh and Springfield both have big challenges on the first night. Tecumseh opens with fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman. A win would pit Tecumseh against top seed Marysville. Springfield is the 10th seed and opens with seventh seed Fairborn with second seed Sidney waiting.
Wednesday’s winners advance to the regional semis and finals the following week.
Stage is set: Greeneview senior Andrew Hoskins finished second at state as a junior and looks to go out on top, but Mechanicsburg freshman Kaleb Ramero may have something to say about it.
Romero recorded an escape for the lone point in a 1-0 win over Hoskins in a dual Tuesday night between two of the state’s top 138-pounders in Division III.
The two could meet again in the sectional, district and state tournaments.
Harris leads Urbana: Urbana sophomore Jack Harris was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Greenon Invitational last weekend as he cruised to the title at 182.
Urbana won the team title with 382 points.
Catholic Central got titles from Jake Guteirrez (126), Anthony DeCarlo (152) and Cameron Luther (160) in finishing fourth with 244 points.
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