Senior Mike Audi of Poland Seminary High School's wrestling team has had one thing on his mind for the past twelve months since wrestling in last year's State Championship. That was to find a place in the elite eight wrestlers who stand atop the podium.
''Normally you can block out everything that's going on around you but at state it's a different story, I definitely think being here last year was a huge advantage'' said Audi about competing for three days at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University.
Audi was among the 16 wrestlers who reached the finals and competed last week in front of crowds swelling to over 10,000 spectators.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Poland's Mike Audi defeated Brendon Winning of Ravenna over the weekend in the seventh place state championship finals in Columbus 4-3. He finished seventh in the top eight in the state.
Audi reached his goal and found a spot on the podium by finishing seventh at the state tournament and started off strong on day one by pinning Tye Smith of Washington Courthouse in 3 minutes and 45 seconds to advance to the day two quarter finals match where he was defeated by last year's state runner up Aaron Schuette of Wauseon High School. That match set up a must win situation to have a shot at the podium.
''I knew I had to shake that match off and get back up for my next match,'' said Audi who had to face Steven Frasier of Philo high school. In that match, Audi took control by scoring on his feet with four take downs in the match and only allowing Frasier to escape twice. Audi finished with an 8-2 win before falling to Revere's Zech Lehman in his third match of the day.
On day three Audi won his last match 4-3 against Brendon Winning of Ravenna.
''I beat him last week in districts but I knew it was going to be a tough match, he's a real funky wrestler and I knew I couldn't make any mistakes.'' said Audi.
Audi's seventh place win makes him the first PSHS wrestler to place at state since Max Pearce in 2005 wrestled under the Poland banner.
''Mike has set the bar pretty high for the future of Poland Wrestling and he's one of those rare athletes that every Coach looks forward to working with,'' said Head Wrestling coach Tony Stellato about Audi who will be leaving his mark on the record books with 125 career wins and as an East Ohio Wrestling League, Sectional and District Champion.
Audi has also qualified twice for the State Championship Tournament and is the only State Placer since the team was formed in 2010.