MANSFIELD — Mansfield Senior has produced two of the most decorated wrestlers in program history this decade, but neither of them got to 100 wins faster than Josh Lyons.
Reaching the century mark, however, has been a roller coaster ride for the junior 126-pounder.
Lyons is one of nine area wrestlers who will be in action at this week’s state meet, which begins Thursday at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. He earned his spot in Ohio high school wrestling’s crown jewel with a third-place showing at last week’s Division II Norwalk district tournament.
After breezing through the first two rounds at Norwalk, Lyons dropped a wild 14-13 decision to Fairview’s Matt Kaufmann in the championship semifinals. He needed just one minute to pin J.D. Thom of Sandusky Perkins in the consolation semifinals to lock up his first state berth, then twice worked off his back before pinning Buckeye’s Anthony Ashley in the third-place match.
The win over Ashely was career victory No. 100. He’s just the eighth wrestler in Senior High history to reach the milestone.
“He’s the first junior in program history to get 100,” Senior High coach Zach Brumfield said. “That’s rare air.”
Lyons beat a couple of recent Senior High luminaries to the 100-win plateau. Jesse Palser was a Division I state runner-up at 170 pounds as a junior and took third at 170 as a senior in 2015. Brandon Myers finished third at 220 in 2017.
“That’s some distinguished company,” Brumfield said.
Yet the road to the state meet has been anything but smooth for Lyons. He started the season 20-0, but failed to place at the J.C. Gorman Invitational in early-January and didn’t make weight at the Ohio Cardinal Conference meet last month.
That misstep may have been a blessing in disguise for Lyons. He thundered to a sectional championship at Sandusky two weeks ago, setting the stage for last week’s impressive district performance.
“I’ve had a rough season in the middle, but after those rough times I’ve started to peak,” Lyons said. “These last two weeks have been great for me.
“After I didn’t make weight, I started do everything better. It worked out perfectly.”
Lyons (33-7) will open state meet action against Louisville’s Davin Rhoads (37-10). The sophomore was second at the Alliance district and placed seventh at 120 pounds last year.
“I think his focus wasn’t where it needed to be and his performance suffered because of it,” Brumfield said of Lyons’ mid-season swoon. “He’s righted the ship and is wrestling his best.
“Resiliency is not a weakness for Josh Lyons. He’s a great character kid.”
While Lyons’ adversity is largely in the rearview mirror, Ontario’s Colton Turnbaugh is dealing with a disproportionate amount of calamity as the worst possible time.
The junior qualified for state for a second straight year but injury defaulted in the fourth-place match at Norwalk after re-aggravating a shoulder injury suffered during practice in his first district match.
“It just … it hurts bad,” said Turnbaugh, his left arm in a makeshift sling during the championship round of the Norwalk district. “I first felt it in practice and then my first match here I landed on it and it popped.”
Despite the injury, Turnbaugh (46-7) has no intention of sitting out the state meet. He will open against Aurora freshman Dylan Fishback (43-6), who won the Alliance district championship.
“We’ll get it healed up,” Turnbaugh said.
Turnbaugh’s younger brother, freshman Ethan (42-4) finds himself with a favorable draw after winning the 145-pound district title at Norwalk. The younger Turnbaugh opens against Gnadenhutten Indian Valley’s Adam Lenhoff (42-11). The senior placed fourth at the Heath district tournament.
“I think I can place pretty high,” Ethan said. “It’s going to be a real tough tournament.”
Ashland has three wrestlers competing in the Division I tournament. Case George (36-12) placed fourth at 120 pounds at the rugged Mentor district tournament and will meet Solon’s Jake Canitano (44-0) in the opening round.
Josh Bever won a district title at 220 last week at Mentor and is the projected state champ. Bever (49-1) opens with Garfield Heights’ Leon Webb (34-8).
Bever’s brother, sophomore Jake, placed third at 285 at Mentor. The younger Bever (40-10) opens against Cincinnati Anderson’s Kevin Stone (39-3), the second-place finisher at the Kettering Fairmont district.
Three area wrestlers will be in action in the Division III draw, led by Crestview’s Dakota Blanton. A senior, Blanton (41-4) is a four-year state qualifier and placed seventh at 126 last year. He took third at the Lakota district and will open against Marion Pleasant’s Carter Chase (43-7).
Mapleton has a pair of state qualifiers in 145-pounder Jeremy Tracy and 152-pounder Beau Lefever. Tracy (44-6) opens against Lima Central Catholics Joey Caprella (44-2) while Lefever (40-2) won a district title at Garfield Heights and will meet Coshocton’s Jackson Unger (45-8) in the opening round Thursday.