Chalker’s Duncan seeks to claim title
Landen Duncan was on the cusp of greatness a year ago.
The then-junior wrestler from Chalker — the only wrestler from Chalker in fact — made a historic run to the Division III 120-pound state final but came up just short of capturing a state championship after falling to Legacy Christian’s Dillon Campbell, one of the top- ranked wrestlers in the country.
Now, Duncan is back for more.
After a regular season of testing himself against some of the best wrestlers in the state, and in the country, Duncan recently qualified for the Division III state wrestling tournament for the fourth straight year after a runner-up finish at the Perry District tournament.
“I can’t wait to get back down there,” Duncan said. “I feel like this is my year to do good, I’m just excited to get down to the Schottenstein Center again and get on the podium.”
Ever since his state championship loss last season, Duncan has been preparing to get back to the same spot this year, and then take it another step further. As the only wrestler at Chalker, Duncan was able to compete in some of the best tournaments in Ohio. He wrestled in the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament in December and tested himself against tough competition.
He fell to Marc-Ant McGowan from Blair Academy, who went on to finish second in the tournament, via a 9-4 decision in the championship rounds. But, he also picked up wins over Daniel Aranda from Lake Highland Prep and Evan Rodriguez from Broken Arrow, OK.
Duncan was eliminated from the tournament with a sudden victory loss to JJ Rogers from Stillwater, OK. But, it was the type of loss that set the tone for Duncan throughout this season.
“After that, I knew that I could wrestle with the best and stay in there and just try to get a win,” Duncan said. “I feel like that helped me out a lot because it showed me I could wrestle against the best wrestlers. It gave me a little bit of confidence for the rest of the year.”
Matches like that are why Duncan believes he’s prepared for a state tournament run this season. With four years of experience under his belt, along with wrestling against some of the best in the area, Duncan feels like he’s good to go.
“I think that’s going to help, especially when it comes down close to the end. I know how to take the match and win it,” Duncan said about testing his abilities against top-tier talent. “I’ve wrestled in some close matches and against some of the best kids in the state.”
It’s helped so far through his postseason run. He captured a sectional title with a pretty smooth run. In his Rootstown sectional win, Duncan earned victories via technical fall (16-1) and two pins (1:01, :23) before winning a sectional title by default.
Then, Duncan made a run through the Perry District tournament, where he won his first three matches via two technical falls (16-0, 15-0) and then he topped Waynedale’s Caden Schmeltzer, who was 29-1 entering the match, with an 11-3 major decision.
But, Duncan’s district run ended on a bit of a sour note as he fell to Perry’s Brock Christian via a 6-3 decision.
“That wasn’t what I wanted, but we had a close match, and I think if I could see him in the finals, I think I could beat him the second time around.”
Duncan has a few things going for him as well. With four years of experience at the state level, he knows what to expect when he steps on the mats at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. He knows that experience will help him this time around.
“I think it’s going to help this year,” Duncan said. “I placed second last year so that’s going to be the highest placer returner in my bracket. I’ve been to the finals before so I think that’s going to help. I know how to get to the finals, so I think that’s going to help me get back there.”
Duncan starts off his run back to the state championship with a matchup against junior Anden Ankney from Tinora.
The state tournament kicks off at 1 p.m. Friday when the Division III boys begin the championship preliminaries.
Here’s a full list of local competitors with their first-round matchup:
Mark Stankorb, Austintown Fitch (23-8) vs. Eugene Gibbons, St. Ignatius (23-6)
Adam Heckman, Howland (41-4) vs. Leroy Steagall, Indiana Valley (38-7)
Tyler Scharrer, Canfield (28-4) vs. Levi Pidgeon, Carrollton (38-10)
Carter Mock, Howland (34-11) vs. Aidan Rush, Col. DeSales (36-10)
Aidan Stecker, Salem (37-8) vs. CJ Spencer, Indian Creek (42-4)
Hudson Brink, West Branch (40-8) vs. Andrew Barford, Col. DeSales (36-8)
Dom Pagan, Poland (31-8) vs. Dickie Engel, Reading (36-6)
Nick Bowser, Hubbard (39-5) vs. Wyatt Shaw, Claymont (40-10)
Quintin Burns, Liberty (40-10) vs. Jonathan Huntsman, Barnesville (44-6)
Owen McDevitt, Jackson-Milton (39-6) vs. Robby Bennett, Fairview (40-7)
Landen Duncan, Chalker (33-7) vs. Anden Ankney, Tinora (43-8)
Braeden Stallworth, Crestview (42-2) vs. Clayton McClain, Ada (40-10)
Tyson Seesholtz, South Range (47-3) vs. Kyle Langdon, Deer Park (32-8)
Jacob Starkey, South Range (41-5) vs. Kade Wireman, Allen East (46-4)
Hunter Andel, Garfield (44-3) vs. Karson Mihoan, Barnesville (38-14)
Keegan Sell, Garfield (41-5) vs. Connor Sintobin, Dalton (28-13)
Christopher Colucci, South Range (40-1) vs. Zach Babiczuk, Malvern (41-9)
Kip Stewart, Columbiana (34-9) vs. Seth Stanley, Margaretta (41-7)
Lexi Beadle, Boardman (32-2) vs. June Pyles-Treser, Carroll (32-10)
Emily Flynn, Hubbard (31-6) vs. Rachel Nusky, Badin (17-2)
Olive Karam, Champion (31-3) vs. Abigail Miller, Western Brown (31-5)