Considering all Olentangy Liberty has accomplished this year, its stellar showing on the first day of the OHSAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament Thursday at OSU was hardly a surprise.
Expected or not, though, it was pretty darn impressive.
Six Patriots won their first-round matches, including all four of their returning state placers.
Senior Kyle Lawson (160) led the way with the most convincing win of the six, pinning Findlay junior Dru Hernandez in just 1:15 to keep his dominant stretch of state showings alive and well.
Lawson’s never done anything but win at the state tournament. The three-time defending state champ won two titles in Division II (at 138 in 2014 and 152 in 2015) and, after transferring to D-I Liberty, took top honors in the 160-pound division last year. He’s now 13-0 in state tournament matches.
He’ll look to make it 14-0 when he takes on Wadsworth senior Cody Surratt, a 5-0 first-round winner, in today’s championship quarterfinals.
Liberty’s Trevor Lawson (170), Kyle’s younger brother, also won his first-round match. The junior, who finished second in the state at 170 a year ago, cruised past Mason junior Eric Vermillion 9-1. Next up, he’ll take on North Canton Hoover junior Luke Reicosky.
The Patriots’ Brakan Mead (113), who finished third in the state in the 106-pound division last season and second at 106 as a sophomore, is on track to get at or near the top of the podium for the third straight time.
The senior, who entered the state showcase with a 49-4 record, pinned Cincinnati LaSalle freshman Antonie Allen in 3:22 to punch his ticket to today’s championship quarterfinals. He’ll take on Elyria freshman Dylan Shawver, a 6-4 sudden-victory winner over Brecksville-Broadview Heights sophomore Gabriel Tagg — last year’s runner-up at 106.
Liberty’s other first-round winners included senior Zach Furnas (138), who held off Wadsworth sophomore Zain Tittle 8-6; senior Trey Grenier (145), who slipped past LaSalle senior Eric Beck 4-3; and sophomore Connor Brady (152), who handled St. Edward senior Larry Grapo 11-4.
Furnas will take on LaSalle senior Corey Shie, a two-time state placer, in today’s quarterfinals; Grenier will take on Dover senior Andrew Murphy, who finished eighth in the state at 126 last year, in his quarterfinal; and Brady, who finished fourth in the state last season at 132, will take on two-time state champ David Carr in today’s quarterfinals. Carr, a junior at Massillon Perry, won it all at 145 last March and took top honors at 138 as a freshman competing in Division III.
Hayes senior Max Wright (195), who entered the tourney with a sparkling 29-1 record, also kept his championship aspirations alive. Wright, looking to reach the podium for the first time, pinned Cleveland St. Ignatius junior Michael Drobnick in just 56 seconds to advance. He’ll take on Elyria senior Cameron King for the right to compete in a state semifinal.
Those who dropped first-round matches included Liberty freshman Blake Saito (106), who fell to Lakewood St. Edward sophomore Angelo Rini 5-2; Olentangy sophomore Jacob Sherman (113), who lost to Clayton Northmont freshman Andrew Knick 5-1; Big Walnut junior Bailey Munday (120), who lost to Elyria junior Brendon Fenton 9-1; Liberty junior Jordan Rosselli (120), who was edged by Whitehouse Anthony Wayne senior Cody Moosman 3-2; Hayes sophomore Zach Williams (126), who lost to Wadsworth sophomore Michael North 20-3; Olentangy junior Xander Gore (145), who lost to Kettering Fairmont freshman Nevan Snodgrass 5-3; Orange senior Logan Broskie, who lost to St. Edward senior Michael Carpenter 8-6; Liberty senior Cole Fitzpatrick (182), who lost to St. Edward senior Tyler Stepic 16-4; Orange junior Bryce Houston (220), who was doubled-up by Cincinnati Walnut Hills senior Quinton Mincy 4-2; and Liberty senior Mike Ezenekwe (220), who fell to Cincinnati Northwest senior Michael Carter 3-1.
Saito, Rosselli, Broskie, Houston and Ezenekwe all won their consolation matches to stay alive.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.