Prep wrestling: Lakota East seeded No. 1 for state duals

Fairfield’s Jake Bria won this 182-pound match against Lakota East’s Drew Katona 25-10 at Fairfield’s Performing Arts Center on Jan. 14, 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Fairfield’s Jake Bria won this 182-pound match against Lakota East’s Drew Katona 25-10 at Fairfield’s Performing Arts Center on Jan. 14, 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A year ago, Lakota East High School wrestling coach Jim Lehman opted to skip the Ohio High School Athletic Association state team tournament.

His squad was going through a learning process as part of a youth movement, and Lehman figured it was better to sit out and learn than have something happen to set back the progress the team was making.

This time around, Lakota East enters the Division I, Region 8 bracket as the top seed in the A subregion.

“There is some buzz,” Lehman said. “I know that our kids know that we are the top seed and host and are excited and optimistic about that, but we have not talked about it at all. We have big matches this week with our rival Lakota West and then Princeton and Milford. Our focus is on that right now. We will talk about next week when we get through this weekend.”

East hosts the winner of the opening match between eighth seed Sycamore and ninth seed Walnut Hills in the second round Wednesday. Fourth-seeded Moeller and fifth seed Anderson hook up in the other second-round match, with the winners meeting to advance to the Region 8 semis the following week.

The state tournament will be held Feb. 12 at St. John Arena in Columbus.

Sycamore and Walnut Hills wrestle at 5 p.m. with each round following 20 minutes after the completion of the previous match.

The top seed is a first for the Thunderhawks.

East was the fifth seed in 2015, falling in the first round to West 42-19. East’s previous best run came in 2013 when it advanced to the last match of the first night before falling to second-seeded Mason 44-10.

“We are very excited to host,” Lehman said. “We know that we have the ability to perform much better than we have in the past as long as we are healthy.”

Unlike tournaments throughout the season, the duals bring an additional excitement with possible bumping in the lineup and each match having an equal say in the outcome.

“Dual championships are good for the sport,” Lehman said. “They are exciting for the kids and the fans. We need that in our sport.”

Defending region champ Fairfield enters the B subregion as the third seed and will begin its quest to return to Columbus at sixth-seeded St. Xavier. Fairfield would face second seed LaSalle in the third round.

West had a chance to host as the second seed in subregion 8-A, but instead will face seventh-seeded Milford at Loveland.

Middletown and Hamilton will meet up as the eighth and ninth seeds, respectively, with the winner drawing state-ranked Mason in the second round.

Division II: Ross enters Region 15 as the top seed once again in subregion B.

The Rams have advanced to three of the four state tournaments, reaching the semis in the inaugural event in 2013, and have been to the region finals all four seasons.

Ross opens against the winner of eighth seed Talawanda and ninth seed Mt. Healthy. But if seeds hold Ross would be on the road at Western Brown for the regional semis and finals.

Western Brown advanced out of Region 16 last year, but has been moved to 15 this time around.

Badin is in the other half of the subregion with Ross and opens as the sixth seed at Eaton against third seed Reading.

Franklin is the third seed in Region 15-A and travels to Clinton-Massie to face sixth seed New Richmond, while Fenwick is at Western Brown as the fifth seed and opens with fourth seed Wilmington.

Division III: Carlisle travels to Preble Shawnee for the opening rounds as the seventh seed. The Indians will wrestle in the opening match against 10th seed Greeneview, with the winner facing second-seeded Milton-Union.

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