By John Bassetti
Jackson-Milton is tied for 10th in the Division III state wrestling tournament after two days.
The Bluejays have 28 points as do Doylestown Chippewa, Greenwich S. Central and New Lebanon Dixie.
More importantly, Dave Tomaino’s J-M squad has an unbeaten wrestler in Johnny Matacic (3-0), who will battle for the state 130-pound crown tonight at 6:30 against Mike Kovach of Bedford Chanel.
Kovach is the same opponent that Matacic (35-6) lost to by a point in the district final. When the two wrestled previously, Matacic lost by two points.
“We’re hoping the third time is a charm,” said J-M coach Dave Tomaino. “We are ready.”
In Matacic’s last match on Friday, the junior beat Shane Brown of Akron Manchester in triple overtime, 3-2.
“Basically, it was all heart,” Tomaino said. “In the first overtime, there were no takedowns. In the second overtime, Brown chose down, so Johnny rode him out for 30 seconds. In the third OT, Johnny took the down position and scored a one-point escape to win the match.”
Also reaching the championship semifinals on Friday was fellow Bluejay Vinnie Pizzuto, who is 2-1 since Thursday. He had two straight tough matches at 112.
Pizzuto beat last year’s state champ in the second round (Nick Goebel of Bloomdale Elmwood), then had to wrestle state runner-up Alex Dronzek of Beachwood in the championship semifinals.
“He won a tight match, 6-2,” Tomaino said of beating Goebel, “then he had to wrestle the state runner-up,” the coach said of a 7-0 loss by decision.
“But he’s still alive,” Tomaino said of Pizzuto’s attempt today to get third- or fourth-place.
“The lowest he can do is sixth,” the coach said.
Brookfield senior Tyler Thompson (119) has a 3-1 record over the last two days, including Friday night’s 3-1 consolation quarterfinal decision over Liberty Center’s Luke Kern.
“Tyler stepped it up a little bit,” said coach Mike Nemkovich.
“He lost his first match to returning two-time state champion [Hunter Stieber of Monroeville in 2:48], but took care of business after that.”
Stieber was state champ two years ago at 103 and then again last year at 119.
If Thompson (34-10) wins this morning against Aaron Branham of West Jefferson (49-3), he’ll wrestle for third or fourthplace. If he loses, he’s in for fifth and sixth.
“Either way, he’s got two matches left,” Nemkovich said.
Boardman sophomore John Dillon (125) is guaranteed at least sixth and could finish as high as third.
Entering this morning’s consolation semifinal match against Andrew Boehm of Pataskala Watkins Memorial, Dillon sported a 29-4 record that includes 3-1 since arriving in Columbus. Boehm is 26-3
On Friday night, Dillon decisioned Jake Corrill of Cincinnati Moeller, 5-0.
“John wrestled really tough in his last two matches,” coach Dom Mancini said. “He really picked it up,” the coach said of the Corrill match following an earlier 11-2 major decision over Tyler Weiskittel of Cincinnati Oak Hills.
Fellow Spartan Jerry Pasquale, a senior, is 2-2 in Columbus and will be wrestling for seventh and eighth.
“He wrestled real solid, but had a tough one and just came up short,” Mancini said of Pasquale.
“The fact that he came back [to state] after not being here since his freshman year shows that he’s a fighter.”
Hubbard senior Anthony Nadeja was 2-1 after losing in the 160-pound championship semifinals defending state champion Kyle Ryan of St. Paris Graham Local. Kyle Ryan, a junior, decisioned Nadeja, 8-4.