By Brad Emerine
Jackson-Milton senior Johnny Matacic became a repeat offender in the best of ways Saturday.
Matacic successfully defended his Division III title at 130 pounds during the high school state wrestling championships at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
“This is pretty sweet, pretty special,” Matacic said after defeating Galion Northmor’s Alex Carroll 8-2 in the final. “I didn’t know if I could top the feeling I had last year, but I think maybe I did. Both [titles] are special in their own way, but together, that’s a great feeling than anything.”
Matacic was the only area champion, but Canfield had two runners-up in Division II.
The Blue Jays finished seventh in the Division III team standings with 51.5 points, as Bedford Chanel won with 99.
Matacic finished 40-2 and is already seeking his next goal.
“I want to win a national championship. That’s next on the list,” said Matacic, who is thinking about wrestling at Clarion, but has not made an official announcement.
“He is our first two-time state champion and I’m so proud of him,” Jackson-Milton coach Dave Tomaino said. “Our only other champion was Jeremy Gondol way back in 1993.
“We set high goals and we didn’t reach them in terms of team placement, but I’m just thrilled with all three of the guys who made it here.”
Senior Vinnie Pizzuto (119) won both his matches Saturday to place third and finish 41-3.
“Vinnie wrestled great,” Tomaino said. “He got his head together after a tough semifinal loss and put two matches together to finish third. I’m real happy for him.”
Also competing for the Blue Jays was senior Tim Wiseman (125), who was fifth and finished 43-8.
“Although Tim lost his match to reach third or fourth, he pulled out a win over a kid [DeCatur] who beat him last week [in district],” Tomaino said. “Fifth place is a good thing for him.”
Canfield seniors Robby Reed (125) and Alex Benedict (130) both reached finals in their first appearances at state and both finished second. Reed lost 2-0 to Oak Harbor’s Tyler Hackworth. Benedict was pinned in 3:19 by Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit’s Johnni DiJulius, who earned his third title before heading to Ohio State next season.
“Before [Saturday night], I could only imagine being out there in the final,” said Benedict, who finished 35-5. “It was fun, but I was real nervous going against a two-timer. I wrestled him at district, so I wasn’t intimidated, just nervous.”
Reed nearly pulled off a late move, but just couldn’t finish it.
“I was on top for four minutes and I couldn’t turn him,” said Reed, who finished 43-4. “He was tough and didn’t make any mistakes. Maybe when I look back on this, I’ll be happy, but not right now.”
The Cardinals scored 37 points to tie for 11th place with Medina Highland, as St. Paris Graham won its 12th consecutive title with 230.5 points.
“Those guys are obviously a little disappointed right now because they didn’t train to finish second,” Canfield coach Dean Conley said. “I’m just so proud of them to do what they did in their first time here.
“They know all the sweat and years of training was worth it. They just can’t feel that way right now, but they told me that before their last weigh-in.”
Boardman junior John Dillon (119) had to medical default and finished sixth. The junior reached the championship semifinal before losing on Friday night. On Saturday, he lost to Twinsburg’s Del Vinas 6-3 and was supposed to wrestle Hilliard Davidson’s Angelo DiSabato for fifth place.
“He sprained his LCL during the semifinal [Friday night] and tried to go [Saturday] in the third-fourth place match but could barely stand on it,” Spartans coach Dom Mancini said. “It was a tough weekend for us.”
Dillon finished 39-4. His teammates, sophomore Nick Mancini (103) and junior Nico Graziani (152) did not place.
“We started strong, but Saturday was probably our most difficult day at state since 2005,” coach Mancini said. “Still, that’s why they call it state, you’re competing against the best in Ohio so nothing is ever easy. There’s always mixed emotions when you leave Columbus, but the good news is all three get at least one more chance at it. Hopefully, we’ll get it done right next year.”
Brad Emerine is a sports writer for ThisWeek Newspapers in Columbus.