It was a weekend like none other in Lexington Wrestling Program History, and one none of the Lexington Wrestling Family will soon forget. Five young men left everything they had on the mats of the Value City Arena in Columbus with 1Purpose in mind, and I couldn't be more proud of not only our 5 state placers but all of the 2011-2012 Fighting Minutemen wrestlers. It was a total team effort, the pushing of teammates in the practice room and the bond they share off of the mats that brought us to our goals. I would like to sincerely thank everyone that took part in this magical journey this season, I am truly blessed to be able to work with such great young men, parents, coaches, and families. Rest assured this journey is far from done, we still have a lot of work to do, goals to reach, and butts to kick....so let's enjoy this moment because very soon it will be time to get back to work in preparation for next season!
Final Division 2 Top Ten!
The 1Purpose was intended to motivate the wrestlers to achieve something no Lexington Wrestler had ever accomplished, a state title. We had two young men reach the pinnacle of our sport by climbing to the top of the Podium!
145 pound Senior Jake Faust became the 1st of our state champion tandem and the 1st State Champion in Lexington Wrestling History as he knocked off Blake Kastl of St. Paris Graham in the title tilt by a 7-3 decision. This avenged two earlier season losses to Kastl. Jake opened the state tournament with a 20-3 tech fall dismantling of Anthony Foreman from New Lexington, then things got a little tougher. In the quarter-finals Jake faced last years state runner-up TJ Fox of Field High School. Jake used his dominance from the top position to ride out a 3-2 win, setting up a showdown with highly ranked Shawn McGhee of Steubenville in the semi-finals. Jake rolled through McGhee by a 9-1 margin setting up the showdown with Kastl. Fox and McGhee then came back through the consi rounds to finish 3rd and 4th respectively proving that Jake truly had the toughest path to the finals. That path payed off as he used an electrifying peterson roll at the end of the first period and a match clinching takedown late in the 3rd period to bring home his title!
Junior 195 pounder Josh Lehner earned the second state title for the Minutemen as he completely dominated all 4 of his state opponents, outscoring them 65-4!! And in what is almost unheard of in the upper weights Josh tech falled his way to a state title!! Josh Hunt of Canton South was the first round victim, with Josh earning a 16-1 victory. Micky Crum of Hamilton Township was the next to fall, with that final being by a 17-2 count. In the semi-finals Josh had a showdown with Jimmy Szup of Lake Catholic - and after pulling out a new move we will simply call "the Josh" he rolled to a 15-0 win and a state finals birth. Steubenvilles Charlie Keenan couldn't fair any better as Josh cruised to a 17-1 state finals victory!!!
Senior Brad Metz had 1Chance to achieve our 1Purpose, after narrowly missing a state birth his Junior year. He made up for that in a big way by storming through the toughest sectional in D2, following that up with a trip to the finals of the toughest District in the state, then battling his way to the state finals, which is a tough task for anyone entering the state tournament for the first time! The level of pride I have in this young man can be measured by the enormous heart he shows everytime he steps on the mat. He opened the state tournament by pinning Jake Lagace from Licking Valley in 2:53. In the quarter-finals he faced 2nd ranked Lucas Poyser of Louisville, who tried to intimidate Brad - which backfired as Bradley out-wrestled Poyser and punched his ticket to the semi-finals with a 2-0 win. In the semi's Brad faced conference foe Marshall Overholt of West Holmes, in a re-match of the OCC finals, which ended in identical 9-2 scores in favor of Brad! In the state finals Brad faced Zeke Jordan, the nations 4th ranked 160 pounder who was gunning for his 3rd state title. They wrestled in the district finals, won 15-5 by Jordan. However, this time around Brad pushed Zeke to the brink before falling 5-3 in one of the best "underdog" performances of the finals. I know Brad wanted that title but he can hold his head high after his tremendous performance! The Lex Nation is very proud of him!
What will a fantastic off-season truly do for you? How about going from 30-20 and not winning a district match on year to 48-10 and 4th on the state podium the next?? Every young Minuteman wrestler should follow the Jacob Kasper blueprint for hard work to achieve your goals! And he isnt finished yet - as I expect another butt-kicking off season to push him to the top of the state podium next year! In his first trip to state Jacob squared off against last years 6th place state finisher Wyatt Running of Clinton-Massie in the opening round, and used a double leg takedown clinic to earn a 5-1 victory. In the quarters he was matched against Dovers Brogan Endres who had won the Claymont District the week before. Following the same blueprint as his opening match he wrestled a smart 6 minutes and earned a 3-1 victory to earn a 3rd match against Chris Moore of Clyde. He lost a pair of extremely close bouts to Moore but this weekend Moore was on a mission and would eventually win the state title as Jacob fell 11-2. He then had to take on Running again in the consi semi's, this time using his terrific double legs again to score a 7-1 win. In the match for 3rd he was pitted against a very tough Brandon Taylor of Galia Academy, falling by pin to finish 4th. He came in to the tournament ranked just 10th in most polls and he far surpassed what the experts expected him to finish!!
Senior Calvin Campbell finished one of the truly great runs in Lexington Wrestling history by securing a 5th place medal in a loaded 120 pound weight class after finishing 2nd the previous two seasons. This young man shattered the season and career pin marks along the way. In his opening round bout of his 3rd state trip he decked Steubenvilles Anthony Parada in 1:06. In the quarters he faced 4x state placer Corey Stainbrook of Walsh Jesuit, and fell 9-0. He bounced back with a dominant win by pin over Austin Skaggs of New Richmond and followed that up with a huge overtime win of Toledo Central Catholics Nate Hagan, reversing the outcome from the district semi-final loss a week earlier. He then was tripped up by defending state champion Mike Rix of St.Vincent St. Mary 7-0 in the consi semis. However, he walked out of the state tournament on a winning note by knocking off Aaron Gessic of Perry 3-0 for 5th place!
Special Sites of the 2012 State Tournament:
Ella Grace was impressed with the trophy!!
News Journal Articles from Jon Spencer during state weekend:
Bigger things ahead for Lexington wrestling?
Lexington's top returners already looking to next season
COLUMBUS -- Maybe it was because Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the state capital all weekend. Maybe he was inspired by watching his beast of a best friend win a state championship. Or maybe he just wants to lift something made of iron instead of flesh.
Whatever the reason, Lexington's Jacob Kasper is pumped about building on his fourth-place finish and his team's milestone runner-up Division II finish at the 75th state wrestling tournament.
"I want to get everybody in the weight room more during the offseason," said Kasper, a junior 170-pounder who finished the season 48-10. "Five times a week isn't going to hurt us. Ed's (perennial Division I champ Lakewood St. Edward) and Graham (perennial Division II champ St. Paris Graham) probably have the best weight programs in the state. That's the only thing we're lacking. Even me, I'm not physically mature yet.
"That's where having Josh (Lehner) as a drill partner helps. He's ungodly strong. He got me here this year."
Lehner, a state champ at 195 pounds, and Kasper have been friends as long as they can remember. They attended their first state tournament together in third grade, the highlight of that trip being their impromptu match on the 50-yard line inside Ohio Stadium.
Next year, they will be the unquestioned senior leaders on the team. Kasper's personality has him already embracing the role.
"I'll probably fill it more than Josh," he said. "He steps back and lets it happen. I go get it more."
A state bench press record-holder, Lehner especially likes Kasper's idea of being in the weight room five days a week.
"I'll be in there every day," he said. "If there were eight days a week, I'd be in there every day. I think we're both ready to be leaders."
Even with a pair of three-time state placers in the room this season (the Duke-bound tandem of state champ Jake Faust and Calvin Campbell), Kasper set a torrid pace when it came to offseason workouts and tournament participation. He shattered the school record for "open mat" attendance.
Lehner 44-3 this season, can set a tone with his performance. He was scary good in the state tournament, winning all four of his matches by technical fall by the collective margin of 65-4.
"I can handle him," joked his mother Annette. "Don't worry."
Role models always make their presence felt in the practice room, which is why Lex has withstood the loss of a three-time state placer each of the last two years (Brandon Gambucci in 2010 and Nick Hile in 2011) and why the program will keep humming without Faust and Campbell and 160-pound state runner-up Brad Metz next year.
"It's the kind of kids they are, not that they are three-time state placers or state runners-up," Rastetter said, fighting his emotions as he talked about the void he's feeling in his lineup right now. "It's the way they go about things. I'm proud of the kind of young men they're going to be down the road."
Exactly half of Lex's lineup this season was filled with freshmen, including Faust's younger brother Bailey, so nobody is feeling too sorry for Lexington.
Lex's championship duo
Faust, Lehner make team history
COLUMBUS -- The night belonged to a pair of history-makers and the proudest bunch of runners-up you'll ever see. All from the same team.
Senior 145-pounder Jake Faust and junior 195-pounder Josh Lehner became Lexington's first state wrestling champions, helping to put a bow on the school's best-ever second place finish in Division II behind national power St. Paris Graham
The only way Saturday's milestone final round could have been better for Lex is if senior 160-pounder Brad Metz had beaten Graham's three-time state champ Isaac Jordan and Lex had scored 2.5 more points for an even 100 --or what coach Brent Rastetter called the "Holy Grail" in wrestling.
Technically, Faust beat Lehner to the record book with his 7-3 win over Graham's Blake Kastl, avenging a pair of two-point losses, the most recent in last week's district semifinals. If anything, that took some of the pressure off Lehner, who then dismantled Steubenville's Charlie Keenan 17-1.
So what else is new? It was Lehner's fourth technical fall of the tournament, with his victims falling by a collective 65-4.
"My cradles worked; my tilts worked," said Lehner, who is laid back everywhere but on the mat and under a barbell. "Like (Rastetter) says, when I get my technique going with my strength, nothing can stop me."
Jim Houghtaling, a Hall of Fame official and former coach from Medina, handicapped the Division II matches in a release given to the media and made the Lehner-Keenan match his "upset special," with Keenan prevailing 12-10.
Lehner, 44-3, shrugged when he heard that afterward.
"They can think what they want," he said. "I expected to do what I do and whatever happens, happens."
The turning point in Faust's match was a four-point Peterson roll right before the first period buzzer, giving him a 4-2 lead over Kastl.
"I don't think he was expecting me to go for anything with time running out," Faust, 51-4 said. "I'm always told to wrestle for six minutes."
Leading 5-3 early in the third period, Faust fought off a couple of shots from Kastl and took him down on the edge of the mat, but wasn't given the points. But he had two more chances to finish a takedown and finally capitalized on the second for two insurance points with 20 seconds left.
"Even though he beat me twice, I felt I had the advantage because I was so close the last time," Faust said. "I was completely behind him in overtime (of the district semis), but we were out of bounds and I didn't get it.
"This time, when I almost got two on the edge, I felt at that point like I wanted it more."
It was assistant coach Brian Faust who had the honors of draping the championship medal around his son's neck.
"It was great to see all the hard work come to fruition," said the elder Faust, a state qualifier for Clear Fork in 1984. "I was nervous as heck, but when he hit that Peterson, that's not one of his go-to-moves, so my confidence was sky-high."
Rastetter was texting like mad in the interview room as congratulatory texts poured in.
"Josh's performance was about as dominant a run by one of my kids that I've ever seen," he said, "and not taking anything away from anyone else, but we've talked about Jake's qualities, his work ethic and demeanor on and off the mat. That young man deserves a state title. He embodies everything you want in a kid."
Rastetter knows the 5-3 loss to Jordan left Metz heartbroken, but hopes he comes to appreciate how much he meant to Lex's runner-up cause.
"He was right there with the No. 4 kid in the nation," Rastetter said. "He won one match in seventh grade. The fact that he won 51 matches this year and was a state runner-up is a testament to the hard work he put in."
Metz closed the gap on Jordan after losing to him 15-5 in the district finals. Some will see it as a moral victory since Jordan is ranked fourth in the nation and pinned his way into the finals.
"You still want to win; you're in the state finals, so you expect to win," Metz, 51-4, said. "I wrestled good. I just wish I had another chance."
The intimidation factor was gone this time.
"Last time I'm thinking, 'This is Isaac Jordan.' I was timid," Metz said. "I took shots and wouldn't finish. The only thing on my mind was that this was my last match. Six minutes was all I had left."
Five to the finals
Lexington's Lehner, Clear Fork's O'Neill lead area group
COLUMBUS -- If Brent Rastetter knows his Lexington Minutemen are second in the Division II standings at the state wrestling tournament, it's only because somebody told him.
Or because he read it here.
"I'm not looking," he said, grinning.
Doesn't matter because his three state finalists gave him an eyeful.
St. Paris Graham has already clinched its 12th straight championship with 156 points, but it's about to get personal between the two schools. In tonight's finals, Lexington's second-ranked Jake Faust faces Graham's top-ranked Blake Kastl at 145 pounds and Lex's third-ranked Brad Metz battles Graham's two-time state champ Isaac Jordan at 160.
But you don't just score 81 points like Lex has with two kids.
Projected champion Josh Lehner has been the Babe Ruth in the lineup this weekend with three technical falls in his three 195-pound matches. Right now, he can do no wrong. He turned what looked like a single-leg takedown by third-ranked Jimmy Szep of Mentor Lake Catholic into a five-point move and was off to a 15-0 win in Friday's semifinals at Value City Arena.
"How did he do that?" Metz yelled as he watched Lehner escape danger on a TV monitor in the interview room.
Lehner wasn't sure himself.
"I was just defending," Lenher said. "That's where my Greco (upper body) training comes in with the throws."
Lehner was pinned by Szep in the state freestyle tournament last May.
"I've reversed a lot of losses in the past," Lehner said. "I'm confident in what I can do."
Rastetter was asked if he's ever heard of anyone winning a state title with four technical falls -- wins by 15 or more points. So far, Lehner has annihilated his three opponents by a 48-3 margin in setting up tonight's title bout with Steubenville's ninth-ranked Charlie Keenan.
"I don't know if that's ever been done," Rastetter said, "but right now I'll take a win any way (we) get it, whether it's by one point or by tech fall ... but I'd like a tech fall a lot better."
Clear Fork's Brandon O'Neill, the area's other projected Division II champion, is living up to the acclaim as well, earning a rematch with second-ranked Chris Moore of Clyde in the finals. They met two weeks ago in the sectional finals at Shelby, with O'Neill prevailing 4-1. Their anticipated trilogy was reduced to a sequel when Moore defaulted to O'Neill in the district finals at Marion.
"It's not about doing something differently (against Moore); I just want to improve," O'Neill said. "They didn't let us wrestle on the edge at sectionals. It's a tough situation, a smaller gym floor, but a lot of our action was on the edge of the mat."
In that regard, O'Neill is hoping for more scoring this time around -- on his end. He wasn't happy giving up a takedown in both his 6-3 quarterfinal win over Aurora's George Bollas and his 6-3 win over Gallia Academy's Brandon Taylor. It's only the fifth and sixth time that's happened all season.
"It doesn't make me mad," O'Neill said, "but it definitely gives me a sense of urgency."
Like Lex's three finalists, O'Neill is out to make school history tonight. Both schools are looking for their first state champ.
"I know it's the state tournament and the state finals, but it's just another tournament, not different than any other finals match I've been in," O'Neill said. "It's another opponent, another six minutes."
Mapleton sophomore Zach Durbin (113) will compete for a Division III title, but Wyatt Music (145) and Garrick Montgomery (170) from Firelands Conference rival Crestview were stopped just short. Music lost 5-1 to unbeaten projected champ Jordan Marshall of Troy Christian and Montgomery was pinned in 3:43 by Armani Robinson of Jamestown Greeneview.
There won't be a third trip to the Division II finals for Lexington's Calvin Campbell. He lost 9-0 in the quarterfinals to another 2011 state runner-up, Cory Stainbrook of Walsh Jesuit, but has rebounded to win two consolation matches. The second was a 2-0 overtime decision over Toledo Central Catholic's Nate Hagan, avenging a loss in last week's district semifinals.
Campbell will be back in action this morning, along with teammate Jacob Kasper, who was denied a third crack this season at O'Neill in his 11-2 semifinal loss to Moore.
Part of the focus for Lex now turns to rematches in the finals. Faust has lost twice to Kastl, both two-point decisions, the second going overtime in the district finals. That's also when Metz lost 15-5 to the 45-0 Jordan, ranked fourth in the nation.
So far here, Metz hasn't been scored on offensively. The three points he's given up in three matches were kick outs. He beat West Holmes' Marshall Overholt 9-2 in the semifinals, duplicating the outcome of their battle in the Ohio Cardinal Conference finals.
"(Jordan) is just another kid," Metz said.
He can tell himself that, but he knows it isn't true.
"He's got very heavy hands and hips," Metz said. "That makes it hard to finish shots and hard to control the match."
Faust stormed into the finals with a 9-2 win over Steubenville's Shawn McGhee, riding high after a 3-2 decision in the quarterfinals over 2011 runner-up T.J. Fox of Mogadore Field. Faust admitted that winning a title by going through Graham, a program by which all others are measured, would be doubly sweet.
"Either way, it would be a big feat," he said. "I'm ready to go out there and do what I need to do and not let (Kastl) control the match."
Lex cruises into wrestling quarterfinals
COLUMBUS — State wrestling meet debuts don’t get much better than this.
Lexington junior Jacob Kasper, a 170-pounder, beat a returning placer in Thursday’s first round and stole the thunder from four more heralded teammates with his 5-1 victory over Clinton-Massie’s Wyatt Running at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
In its own way, Kasper’s victory was just as convincing as Lex’s other four wins — none of which went the distance — as the Minutemen went 5-0 and finished the first round second in the Division II standings behind 11-time defending state champion St. Paris Graham.
“I’m one-fourth of the way to the goal I want to accomplish,” Kasper said. “I’m not stopping until I get all four (wins).”
For that to happen, Kasper (46-8) likely will have to beat projected finalist Chris Moore of Clyde in the semifinals and projected champion Brandon O’Neill of Clear Fork in the finals. Kasper is 0-2 against O’Neill, losing to him in the J.C. Gorman Invitational and sectionals, and he dropped a 4-2 decision to Moore in the district semifinals.
“It’s usually one stupid mistake that has cost me in my losses,” said the 10th-ranked Kasper, who upset the fourth-ranked Running. “I’ve kind of been under the radar, but once the (Brakeman Report) rankings came out my dad (Brad) said, ‘Well, now your name’s out there. You’ll have to try and wrestle up to it.’ ”
As is so often the case, it was two-time state runner-up Calvin Campbell who got the Minutemen rolling with a 1:06 pin of Steubenville’s Anthony Parada at 120. Jake Faust, a projected finalist at 145, added to his school-record total of technical falls with a 20-3 rout of New Lexington’s Anthony Foreman. Brad Metz, ranked third at 160, pinned Licking Valley’s Jake Lagace at 2:53 and projected 195 champ Josh Lehner matched Faust with a 16-1 technical fall of Canton South’s John Hunt.
“I expected those four to do what they did,” Lex coach Brent Rastetter said. “Actually, I expected it from all five, but (Kasper) has never been here before and he had the toughest first-round match … which he dominated.”
If Kasper gets to the final, everything points to O’Neill (40-1) being in the other corner. His only loss is to projected Division I champ Vince Pickett of Central Crossing and Thursday’s 43-second pin of Hillsboro’s Conner Johnston was O’Neill’s third first-minute pin in his last four matches, not counting a default victory in the district finals.
“I’m just getting after it,” O’Neill said. “It’s hard to get upset if you take it to (your opponent) early and get off the mat.”
Campbell (42-5) and Metz (49-3) seemed to share that mindset on what could have been “trap” Thursday for the Minutemen. They knew entering the tournament this morning’s quarterfinals would be a huge test. Look past the first-round, though, and they would have fared no better than the mouse taking the bait in grandma’s pantry.
“You get in trouble when you look ahead,” Metz said. “The first period was a little shaky, but once the whistle blew at the end of the period, it was completely different. There’s no other shot for me to come back (to state). It’s my last chance.”
Waiting for Metz in the quarterfinals is Louisville’s Lucas Poyser, a 2011 medalist whose only loss was to Graham’s two-time state champ Isaac Jordan, ranked fourth in the nation. Jordan beat Metz 15-5 in the finals of the Marion district.
“That loss still eats at me,” Metz said, “but maybe I’ll get another shot at (Jordan).”
Metz’s match with Poyser will follow Campbell’s bout with Walsh Jesuit’s Cory Stainbrook in a showdown of reigning state runners-up and Faust’s date with Mogadore Field’s T.J. Fox, another returning state runner-up. Faust is 48-4.
“Ratty (Rastetter) used me as an example of what can happen if you look ahead,” Faust said. “I lost last year in the quarters to a guy I shouldn’t have because I was looking ahead and then I came back to beat him (15-6) for fifth place.”
Compared to his four teammates, Lehner (41-3) has the most favorable path to the finals. But the pressure on him is just as great, if not greater, because of his No. 1 ranking.
“No. 1s have gotten knocked off before in the first round,” said Lehner, the only 2011 medalist (seventh) at 195. “You have to wrestle good every match. Just because you’re No. 1 doesn’t mean they’re going to hand it to you.”
Rastetter, standing next to his star junior, couldn’t have written Lehner’s response for him any better.
“Good boy,” Rastetter said, grinning. “If we had looked ahead to the quarters, there wouldn’t be a quarterfinal round for us. Now we can put our focus where it needs to be.”