COLUMBUS — The state wrestling tournament is the ultimate test of ability, athleticism and determination for athletes that manage to qualify for “The Big Show.”
Wayne had three wrestlers emerge from district competition to face that ultimate test; one senior, a sophomore and a freshman.
Freshman Austin Mullins capped a standout season that saw him compile a 28-6 record with 14 pins with a seventh place finish at state in the 145 pound weight class. Mullins scored a 4-2 decision over senior Alexander Gore of Lewis Center Olentangy in the battle for seventh place. Gore entered the tournament with a stellar 35-4 record.
“Austin Mullins had a tremendous season this year and ended up placing seventh,” Wayne Coach Randy Bitsko said. “I believe that is the highest placing freshman in Wayne history, other than Kyle Ott, who placed in 1998. Mullins made All-Area and was No. 1 in his weight class.”
In 1998 Ott placed third in the 103 pound weight class by scoring a 6-3 decision over sophomore DeAngelo Penn of Solon. Ott went on to become a three-time state champion.
“We are looking for great things from Mullins in the future,” Bitsko said.
Mullins suffered a first round loss to eventual state champ, freshman Victor Voinovich (40-5) of Brecksville Broadview Heights.
“State is state. All the kids are talented and it comes down to just keep pushing yourself and hopefully you can place, and he did for seventh,” Bitsko added.
Sophomore heavyweight Jacob Padilla went 38-9 with 25 pins this season and ended up placing eighth at state. He lost a hard-fought 3-0 decision in the battle for seventh place to senior Luciano Cunningham of Ashtabula Lakeside, who entered the tournament with a 30-5 record.
“Padilla wrestled some of the top kids in the state. Everybody he lost to ended up placing,” Bitsko noted.
In his first match at state Padilla lost 2-1 to junior Tyler Connolly of Marysville on a stalling penalty. In the first round of consolation Padilla scored an 8-2 decision over senior Max Wittman of Avon Lake and scored a 3-1 decision over sophomore Max Millin of Massillon Perry in the second consolation round. In the consolation quarterfinals Padilla lost a 3-2 decision to senior Alec Moore-Nash of Cincinnati Elder.
“Padilla had a very solid season, made All-Area and No. 1 for heavyweights,” Bitsko said.
Battle tested senior Jordan Hardrick (35-7, 14 pins) however, did not have the same success. In his first match at state Hardrick scored a 9-4 decision over freshman Jonathan List (30-6) of Medina. In the championship quarterfinals Hardrick lost an 11-4 decision to junior Farouq Muhammed (23-3) of Elyria. His tournament ended with a 5-2 loss in the second consolation round to Alex Farenchak (36-2) of Painesville Riverside.
“Jordan is a tremendous wrestler, a great leader of the team and had a fantastic season,” Bitsko said. “I would have loved to have seen him place. He was disappointed that he didn’t, but all-in-all he had a great season.”
Overall Bitsko had nothing but praise for his three state qualifiers.
“What more can you ask of from three great young men? They went out there and gave their best time and time again,” Bitsko added. “Our coaching staff was fantastic too. It was a long weekend and we were able to pull together to have a great time and enjoy it as well getting some serious wrestling in.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind