Over a weekend of wrestling, nearly 60,000 fans entered the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of the Ohio State University for the OHSAA Wrestling Championships. Two athletes from Poland made the trip, and scored experience for their young squad.
One hundred seventy pound junior Mike Audi started his state tournament on fire by defeating district champion Mark Barrow of New Philadelphia, 4-2 in the opening round.
"You tell yourself, I'm going to block it out, but once you walk out in front of 10,000 fans for the first match, the adrenaline instantly kicks in," said Audi, who started wrestling for Poland just four years ago when the program started. He made up for his lack of experience by being one of the first two wrestlers to make it to Columbus since wrestling became a team sport in Poland.
Photos special to the Town Crier
Poland junior Mike Audi has New Philadelphia's Mark Barrow in his clutches during the state wrestling tournament last weekend in Columbus. Audi won the match, 4-2.
"I'm proud of what he has accomplished in a short time and look forward to seeing him improve next year," said head coach Tony Stellato of Audi, who, after winning his first match, lost his next match to final second-place finisher Wyatt Running of Clarksville Clinton-Massie and John Poullas of Canfield, who finished seventh.
In the 106-pound class, Dante Ginnetti may not have won a match at the state tournament this year, but he will go down in history as the first freshmen to go to state for Poland's four-year-old wrestling program.
Ginnetti's first match was against Tyler Warner of Claymont, who advanced to the finals and became the state champion and he lost his second match against Michael May of Eaton.
"Making it to state as a freshman is going to motivate me to work hard and get back next year," said Ginnetti, who is one of the first wrestlers to come up from the ranks of Poland's youth program that started eight years ago.