COLUMBUS — There been a bunch of turnover the last few years in the Walsh Jesuit wrestling program, but senior Dominic DiPietro said that may have been a blessing in disguise.
"After everything that’s happened, I feel like the pressure is lessened," DiPietro said. "No one is expecting us to do well."
DiPietro and fellow senior Will Schmidt each had a chance to prove Walsh wrestling still has a place at the state level, as both competed for the first time at the Division I state tournament March 8 to 10 at Value City Arena in Columbus.
DiPietro earned All-Ohio honors by finishing sixth at 170 pounds in Division I, while Schmidt went 1-2 and finished one win shy of an All-Ohio place. The top eight placers in each weight class earned All-Ohio places.
Walsh ended up scoring nine points in the Division I team race, tying for 40th place with Huber Heights Wayne, Lima Senior and Western Brown. St Edward won its 32nd state title with 170.5 points.
"Dominic and Will have been doing what they can," said Walsh coach Tom Milkovich. "In this tournament, you’re going to run into someone that really tough in every match. You’ve got to be able to beat someone tough if you want to be successful."
DiPietro opened by scoring a tight 7-5 decision over Westerville North’s Mitch Potter.
"I’ve been working since I was little kid for this," DiPierto said. "I feel I can definitely be on the podium."
In the quarterfinals, DiPietro faced undefeated Cornell Beachem of Cincinnati Winton Woods. Beachem proved tough to take down down, despite constant attacks from DiPietro, and won 5-4.
"Dominic was in that match," Milkovich said. "If he doesn’t slow down, he probably wins."
Needling a win to secure an All-Ohio spot, DiPietro shut down Massillon Jackson’s Tyler Tolarchyk and won 5-1. He then reached the consolation semifinals with a tight 3-2 decision over Fremont Ross’ Garrett Barth.
On March 10, however, DiPietro ran into two tough opponents. In the consolation semifinal, DiPietro ran into defending state champion Emil Soenhnlen of Massillon Perry, who he faced in the district final the week before. DiPietro had no better luck, as he was pinned in 26 seconds.
In the fifth-place match, DiPietro was pinned in 2:36 by Mason’s Eric Vermillon and settled for sixth place. He finished his senior season with a record of 36-12.
Meanwhile at 152 pound, Schmidt dropped a 3-2 decision to Centerville’s Drew Wiechers in his opening match.
Schmidt was able to rebound by using his riding skills, as he pounded out an 11-2 major decision win over Findlay’s Boston Dubocq.
With an All-Ohio place on the line, Schmidt faced Lima Senior’s Naeem Russell, but came out on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision.
Finishing his senior year with a 36-9 record, Schmidt said he enjoyed his state experience.
"It was really exciting the first time coming down here," Schmidt said. "This what I’ve worked for all these years. I still had a great time. I can’t complain."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC