COLUMBUS — As Wadsworth wrestling coach John Gramuglia walked away from his chair following Noah Baughman’s semifinal win at the Division I state wrestling tournament, he screamed, “We’re back, baby!”
Not that neither the Grizzlies nor the six finalists Medina County placed into today’s championship ever left, but what each did Friday evening was nothing short of amazing.
While business was unfinished for some, the drive was there Friday for Noah Baughman (Wadsworth, 120 pounds), Nick Kiussis (Brunswick, 152) and Joey Baughman (Wadsworth, 160) in Division I.
Brunswick resident Matt Fields (Walsh Jesuit, 113) joined the fun in D-I, as did Medina residents Kevon Freeman (Lake Catholic, 132) and James Handwerk (Lutheran West, 182) in D-II and III, respectively.
“For sure,” Kiussis said in reference to Gramuglia’s exclamation. “We want it so badly.”
Each had their own drive, and each will take to the big stage today at 5:45 p.m. in another packed house at Value City Arena.
Two-time state placer Noah Baughman will look for his second title after winning it all in 2014. The senior got to the round of four last season but lost to Central Crossing’s Jaden Mattox.
Fast forward to Friday and Anthony Wayne’s Cody Moosman never had a chance, as projected state champion Baughman won 10-2.
“This year I focused on — not the pressure of losing — having fun in front of great fans and winning,” said Noah Baughman, who will face Fremont Ross’ Lamonte Champman in the finals. “I was wrestling to win instead of wrestling not to lose.
“My freshman year I didn’t qualify for the state tournament and then my sophomore year I won it, so I never had that taste of losing at the Schott. Nothing is worse than losing here, that’s for darn sure. Taking how I felt from losing and how I felt put me in the mindset to make sure I was never in that position again.”
Kiussis has never tasted defeat in three seasons at the state semifinal level. That said, he’s finished runner-up twice.
He joins the Wadsworth trio of Nick Tavanello (1st, 2010-12), Brad Squire (1st, 2007, 2010, 2nd, 2008) and Derek Foore (2nd, 2005-07) and Brunswick’s Richie Spicel (1st, 2005, 2008, 2nd, 2007) as the only three-time state finalists from the county.
The drive to make sure he adds a championship to that mix is all Kiussis has thought about, and that showed in an 8-2 semifinal win over Delaware Hayes’ Greg Brusco.
“I wanted this so badly,” Kiussis said. “I was definitely a little nervous, but super excited. I feel like I’ve been satisfied with being in the finals the last two years. Of course, I hate losing, but in my mind I feel like I have a whole other level to get to.
“It gives me a lot more drive. Coming up short two years in a row, heck, I get ripped on in school for that. Even that gives me motivation. Everything plays into it.”
He has Brecksville’s Austin Hiles in the finals.
As a freshman, Joey Baughman made an impressive run to the semifinals last season but lost to eventual state champ Zac Carson of Uniontown Lake and finished fifth.
Friday, he stopped Cincinnati Oak Hills’ Dylan Roth 5-3 and will face projected state champion Kyle Lawson of Olentangy Liberty today.
“Last year, I was just kind of happy to be there, but it did really tick me off to see how close I was to the final stage,” the sophomore said. “That really propelled me this year to get there.
“I feel like I’m a lot more experienced this year. I can handle things more this year. I’m more mature. That really helped me.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.