COLUMBUS — Ohio high school wrestling has a long history of brothers winning state championships. There’s been several instances of twin brothers winning titles.
However, the OHSAA state wrestling tournament never has had a pair of twins repeat as state champions — until now.
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy juniors Jacob and Jordan Decatur each won state titles for the second straight year March 10 at the Division II state tournament at Value City Arena in Columbus. Jacob Decatur repeated as the Division II 106-pound state champion, while Jordan Decatur won the 132-pound title after winning at 126 pounds last year.
Behind the Decaturs’ efforts, CVCA nearly claimed the Division II team runner-up trophy. The Royals finished third in the team race with 73.5 points, while Canfield was second with 77 points. St. Paris Graham won its 20th Division II state title with 231 points.
Having already committed to wrestle at The Ohio State University, Jacob and Jordan dominated their respective brackets.
"Ever since we were kids, Jacob and I talked about making history," Jordan said. "To do this with him is special."
"These guys are having a blast doing it," said CVCA coach Dave Bergen. "They just are letting it rip. That’s the fun part."
Not everything went as hoped for CVCA at states. For the second straight year, senior 120-pounder Matt Cardello had to settle for third place, as he finished his career as a four-time state placer. Meanwhile, CVCA senior 145-pounder Justin West and sophomore 220-pounder Breslin Walker each went 1-2 and finished off the podium.
"From a coaching perspective, you’re never 100 percent satisfied," Bergen said. "Knowing the hearts of my kids, I’m very happy. They came down wrestled their hearts out. Technically, we could start looking yesterday at things that we have to work on."
The scariest moment of Jacob Decatur’s run to the state title may have come in his opening match vs. Napoleon’s Caleb Hernandez March 8. Decatur looked to have injured his knee, but came back to score a 19-4 technical fall.
Decatur showed no ill effects during his matches March 9, as he cruised past West Holmes’ Cael Wood 8-2 and Firelands’ Payton Burgdorf 14-5.
In the title match, Jacob faced a familiar foe in Perry’s Kyle Rowan, as it was the fourth time the two had wrestled this season. In their previous three encounters, Decatur did not give up a takedown to Rowan and that trend continued.
Decatur shot a double leg takedown in the first period, spun behind for a takedown in the second and stuffed a Rowan shot to get a takedown in the third period on his way to a 7-3 win.
"I had a talk with my brother (other brother Josh Decatur)," Jacob said. "He reassured me that I am ranked No. 1 in the nation for a reason. I wanted to just get as many shots as I can."
Decatur finished the season at 40-0 as he picked up his second title. He admitted he’s getting a bit tired of running into Rowan in big matches, but had nothing but compliments for him.
"I love him and his family," Jacob Decatur said of Rowan. "He pushed me hard all season. He’s really good at hand fighting. I just had to get as many of my shots as possible. In any position, I feel I can win."
Jacob was rooting hard for his brother to make history.
"To do it together with my brother would be awesome," Jacob said.
Meanwhile, Jordan Decatur dominated his way to the finals at 132, pinning Indian Creek’s Parker Mazik in 4:59, beating Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer by an 18-2 technical fall and downing Waseon’s Hunter Yackee 12-2 in the semifinal.
Decaturd faced a defensive-minded wrestler in Eaton’s Wade Monebrake in his final. Decatur showed off a new wrinkle as he hit a fireman’s carry early against Monebrake and kept attacking from there.
"In practice, [CVCA assistant coach] Stevie Mitcheff has been showing me all kinds of dumps," Jordan said. "I wanted to show I can dominate that space, too."
In the end, Decatur would score seven takedowns on his way to a 14-4 major decision win and his second title."
"My best defense is my offense," Jordan said. "I’m just trying to score points."
Meanwhile, Cardello had hoped to reach the first state final of his career, after finishing on the podium three times prior.
Cardello roared through his first two opponents, beating Ontarioa’s Carter Kroll 15-5 and scoring a 17-1 technical fall over Indian Valley’s Brady O’Connor to reach the semifinals.
In the semifinals, however, Cardello was unable to hang onto an early lead, as Graham’s Alek Martin squeezed out a 6-5 win.
Dropped into the consolation semifinals, Cardello rebounded with an 11-1 major decision of Plain City Jonathan Alder’s Jacob Johnson. In the third-place match, Cardello faced Streetsboro’s Dominic Carone for the third straight week, having beaten Carone in the finals at the sectional and district tournament.
This time, Cardello put Carone on his back late to score an 8-3 win.
While acknowledging Cardello wanted that elusive state title, Bergen had nothing but compliments for the senior, who has committed to wrestle at the United States Naval Academy.
"I’ll never say I’m disappointed in Matt Cardello," Bergen said. "He’s one of the best people that I’ve ever known. Maybe he came up a little short on his goal of a state title, but you will see his name over the next few years at Navy.
Making his second straight trip to states, Walker was upset he was unable to earn his first All-Ohio spot.
Walker lost a tight 5-4 decision in his opener to Maumee’s Brandon Phillips, who went on to finish as state runner-up. Walker rebounded with a pin in 59 seconds over Bellefontaine’s Bruno Patterson, but was eliminated with a 2-1 loss to Wapakoneta’s Evan Kaesk.
"Pain is a great motivator," Bergen said. "He’s got a good mindset to come back and work on what he needs to work on."
Meanwhile, West just missed All-Ohio honors in his first trip to states.
West lost his opening match 9-1 to Tippecanoe’s Caleb Blake, but rebounded well with a 9-2 win over Ontario’s Colonton Turnbaugh. With an All-Ohio place on the line, West went to overtime tied 2-2 with Thornville Sheridan’s Noah Barnett, but Barnett scored the decisive takedown in sudden victory to win 4-2.
"He wrestled tremendously to get down here," Bergen said of West. "He got a team win at states. That will be something he remembers forever."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC