COLUMBUS — Regardless of what happens tonight in the final, Brunswick’s Nick Kiussis can say he’s done something no other Medina County wrestler has.
In beating Cincinnati Elder’s Ti’Ric Evans in the Division I 160-pound semifinals, Kiussis reached his fourth state final.
A three-time runner-up, he stands by himself in that category.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Kiussis said. “I’ve heard a lot about how big that is. I don’t even think it has sunk in, but it shows just how much work my father, my teammates and my coaches have put in to help me.”
That said, the elusive state title is what he craves most. In the 80-year history of the state tournament, there has never been a wrestler who finished second four times.
It’s not exactly an honor the West Virginia signee wants to hold.
“I’m really, really hungry,” Kiussis said. “I want to get this more than ever. Not only for myself, but for my teammates, coaches, my dad and all my friends.
“They all like to bust my butt. I’d like to prove them wrong. I’m just really proud I could get there again.”
His next opponent isn’t a stranger, as Elyria’s Brendan Price will step on the line across from him when the finals kick off at 5:45 p.m. today.
Kiussis beat Price in the State Duals and knocked him off at the Greater Cleveland Conference Tournament, with the second one a 3-2 decision.
Kiussis, who holds three wins in three career matches against Price, isn’t looking past anyone.
“You can’t overlook him,” Kiussis said. “I’ve learned in the past, usually the kids that I’ve beaten, it gets me in the long run. I just have to wrestle my match and stick to what I do because he’s giving all he’s got.”
There’s no doubt Wadsworth’s Joey Baughman (170) will do the same tonight, as the junior reached the finals for the second year in a row.
Last season, it ended with a loss to Olentangy Liberty three-time state champ Kyle Lawson, and that’s all the drive Baughman says he needs.
“Not to say I was happy to be there, but I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “This year, I know what I’m doing. I’ve been there before. I want this one.”
After knocking off Licking Heights’ Josiah Harrell 9-3, he’ll face Massillon Perry’s Emil Soehnlen, who he beat last week in the semifinals at the Hoover District.
“I think about last year all the time,” Baughman said. “It makes me so much hungrier because I hated living with that and remembering that every single day. I’ll be ready to go.”
There was heartache in the area, as Wadsworth’s Cody Surratt (160) ended Lawson’s state title streak in the quarterfinals, but lost in the semifinals.
Buckeye’s Eric Bartos (D-II, 120) and the Wadsworth tandem of Luke Baughman (132) and Jordan Earnest (285) also lost in the semis.
“If I had the secret to the day I’d be rich,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “It’s hard to stay even-keeled for them. I don’t think people understand, it’s the toughest thing to do.”
While not students at area schools, the county added three more finalists in Matt Fields (Brunswick/Walsh Jesuit, D-I, 126), Kevon Freeman (Medina/Lake Catholic, D-II, 145) and James Handwerk (Medina/Lutheran West, D-III, 182).
Handwerk will be going for his third title, while Freeman is after his second. Fields is a returning runner-up.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.