COLUMBUS — All season long, Woodridge senior David Massey has had a singular focus on winning a state title. It was a goal that even his father — and Bulldogs head wrestling coach — Mike Massey was skeptical of.
"He told me at the beginning of the season ‘I think I could win a state title,’" Mike Massey said. "I told him that was going to take a lot of work."
Thus, when his son accomplished his goal at the Division II state wrestling tournament at Value City Arena, Mike Massey was a bit in awe.
David Massey won the Division II 126-pound state title March 10, beating St. Paris Graham’s Nick Moore 5-3 in the title match.
The younger Massey’s win was historic on several levels. It was only the fifth state title win in Woodridge history and first at the Division II level. Massey ended a 14-year state title drought, as he became the Bulldogs’ first state champion since Chris Hamed won the Division III 125-pound title in 2004.
What’s more, Massey wasn’t the only Bulldog to reach the podium at states. Senior 152-pounder Isaac Yoho earned his first All-Ohio honor by taking fourth place. The top eight placers in each weight class earn All-Ohio honors.
Woodridge finished in 13th place in the Division II team race at states with 39 points. Graham claimed its 20th Division II state title with 2:31 points.
"It means it all to me to see him succeed," Mike Massey said of his son. "That kid’s resolve and work ethic and drive is like nothing else I’ve ever seen."
David Massey opened the tournament in dominant fashion, scoring a 14-2 major decision over Zane Trace’s Jordan Hoselton March 8.
Massey’s quarterfinal bout with Medina Buckeye’s Jake Bartinelli was a bit of a frustrating affair. Massey was unable to secure any takedowns against the counter-wrestler, but forced to two stalling calls and escaped at the last second to get a 2-1.
In the semifinals, Massey had to deal with three-time All-Ohioan Caleb Brooks of Circleville. Massey was able to control the match by staying on offense and scored a 5-3 win to secure his place in the finals.
Heading into the final, Mike Massey said the scout report on Moore was to stay away from upper-body locks.
"I knew (Moore) liked that front headlock and likes to hit the Russian, using an inside leg trip," he said. "We didn’t do a good job staying out of it, but it ended up not hurting us."
In the final, after a scoreless first period, Moore escaped from the down position, but Massey was able to get low single-leg and spin behind for a takedown.
"I knew he opens up when he reaches," David Massey said. "I knew those leg attacks would be there."
Moore escaped to tie the match at 2-2 heading into the third period. Massey escaped to start the third period and got another leg attack on Moore. Moore attempted to work out, but Massey locked in a cradle from the top position for a takedown.
Moore would escape and force Massey into a stalling call in the last second, but Massey won 5-3 to take the title.
"It’s awesome," David Massey said. "I don’t remember anything about the match. That’s how I know I wrestled my best match.
"I just wanted to go out and have fun," he added. "It’s my senior year, so I wanted to go out with a bang. It hasn’t hit me yet. My dad’s helped me the whole entire way."
While Mike Massey joked he wouldn’t let his emotions out about his son’s victory until he was "alone in a room," he noted with pride the fact David had spent his entire wrestling career in Woodridge’s youth, middle school and high school programs.
"He’s a Woodridge kid, through and through," Mike Massey said.
Meanwhile, Yoho’s state journey started vs. Carrollton’s Justin Shaw.
"That’s the same kid that knocked his brother out of the tournament last year," Mike Massey said. "Maybe it’s a family thing with him."
Yoho fared no better than his brother Eli did against Shaw in 2017, as Shaw scored a pin in 4:36.
"Our goal was to get him on the podium and that’s still on the cards," Massey said.
Indeed, once Yoho got into the consolations, he got down to business. Yoho beat Washington Court House’s Zane Nelson 5-3 and then clinched his All-Ohio spot with a 7-3 win over Napoleon’s Zach Altman.
Yoho then reached the consolation semifinals with a 3-2 decision over Bellevue’s Nick Smythe and then won his consolation semifinal by forfeit, as Wauseon’s Sandro Ramirez was disqualified from the tournament.
That set Yoho up for a rematch with Shaw in the third-place match. Yoho was able to avoid the pin this time, but Shaw scored a 9-5 win to claim third place.
Massey noted that Yoho has made huge strides on and off the mat from last season, when he quit the team just before the postseason run.
"His confidence has been growing all year," Massey said. "When he won his match to get on the podium, we just told him how far he’s come since last year. He’s made so much progress."
Woodridge also had hoped that senior 170-pounder Spencer Robinson could earn All-Ohio honors, but Robinson finished 1-2 at states for the second straight year.
Robinson was leading early in his opening match with top-seed Ashton Eyler of Uhrichsville Claymont. However, Eyler caught Robinson on shot underneath him and pinned him in 5 minutes.
"You’ve got be able to finish your shots," Mike Massey said.
Robinson then won his first consolation match by medical default, as Wauson’s Trent David was unable to complete.
With All-Ohio honors on the line, Robinson faced one of his top rivals: Akron Springfield’s Jack Rogan. The match was tied 5-5 after regulation and the sudden victory period, but Rogan escaped during the tiebreaker round and rode Robinson out to score a 6-5 win.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC