By BRAD BOURNIVAL
COLUMBUS â€” The scare is over, and it appears Highlandâ€™s Dan Mirman is fine after having to withdraw from the Fostoria Division II District.
Almost a lock for the state tournament, the freshman made it to the semifinals but had to withdraw because of a partially torn lung.
After going to the hospital the previous night and getting the go-ahead to wrestle, Mirman was getting ready for his next match when everything went downhill fast.
â€œI was warming up and the cops came in the gym and said they had found a collapsed lung on the X-rays,â€ Mirman said. â€œIf I had wrestled, I would have had to go to intensive care with a tube down my throat.â€
The injury originally occurred during the Highland Sectional semifinals, but was aggravated when Mirman was kicked in the chest during his Fostoria quarterfinal match with Bryanâ€™s Donny Ramos.
His neck swollen, voice an octave or two higher and arms puffy because of the air that escaped into his body instead of through his respiratory system, Mirman watched the rest of the tournament from the stands.
â€œMy arms had a Rice Krispie feeling to them,â€ Mirman said. â€œSomething didnâ€™t feel right. I couldnâ€™t swallow and I was in so much pain that my coaches had to help me change (clothes).â€
Just five days later, Mirman made the trip to the state tournament to watch Highland teammates Bart Young, Jake Rininger, Logan Gresock, Steve Timoteo and Tyler Houska wrestle today.
Still not quite right, Mirman will take a month off before beginning offseason workouts for next season.
â€œIâ€™m going to take some time off from wrestling,â€ he said. â€œI was about to face somebody Iâ€™d beaten twice this season and Iâ€™m thinking, â€˜Iâ€™m going to state.â€™ This sucks, but Iâ€™m looking forward to going to Columbus to watch.â€
SWEET SEVENTEEN: When Brad Squire, Richie Spicel, Jesse Campbell and Derek Foore made it to the state finals last season, a streak that dates back to 1991 lived on. The burden now falls on this yearâ€™s crop, as Medina County has had at least one state finalist for 17 straight years. The longest streak prior to that was from 1975-82.
TAKING THE HIGHLAND: The nine qualifiers from county schools is one less than last year and well under the 15 the area usually gets to Columbus. Highland leads the way with five and is followed by a trio from Wadsworth, with Brunswick punching one in as well. â€¦ Anthony Melillo of Parma Padua and York Township returns in D-II, as does Brecksvilleâ€™s Ryan Marks, who lives in Medina, at the D-I level, bringing the overall total to 11.
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: The Northeast Ohio Conference leads the three area leagues with 27 state qualifiers. It is followed by the Suburban League (10) and Patriot Athletic Conference (3). If averaged, the NOC would still come out on top with 1Â½ qualifiers per school to the SLâ€™s 1Â¼.
STATELY STREAK: After a two-year absence, the area will have two schools at the State Duals in January. Using a formula that adds up points from underclassmen at the district level the year before, the top two schools from each district qualify for the one-day, dual-meet tournament. Highland finished behind Lexington at the Ontario District, while Wadsworth finished second to Massillon Perry at Perryâ€™s District.
YAWN, WHOâ€™S NEXT? Lakewood St. Edward (D-I) and St. Paris Graham (D-II) come in as the returning champions in their respective divisions. What else is new? The Eagles, who have 23 big-school titles, have won 11 D-I team titles in a row, while Grahamâ€™s consecutive streak is at seven. It probably wonâ€™t change this year as St. Edâ€™s has 11 state qualifiers and Graham has an amazing 13. Troy Christian returns as the D-III champ, but might not repeat with eight qualifiers. Martins Ferry leads D-III teams with 11 qualifiers.
WISHINâ€™ AND HOPINâ€™: Wadsworthâ€™s Alex Gray (112), Cloverleafâ€™s Ricky Garrett (125), Brunswickâ€™s Dave Doyle (152) and Medinaâ€™s Jake Allen (160) are state alternates and will get the nod if someone in their weight class from the Perry District canâ€™t answer the call today.
BACK POINTS: There will be 309 schools represented among the 672 individuals that vie for state titles this weekend. â€¦ Twenty-three wrestlers are looking to repeat as state champions, but only 20 can accomplish that feat. The D-I 112-pound weight class has two returners and the D-III 145-pounders have three. â€¦ Sixteen individuals come in with unblemished marks, but only 12 can go out undefeated. D-I (189, 215), D-II (112) and D-III (152) have two unbeaten wrestlers in the same weight class. â€¦ Austintown-Fitchâ€™s Tony Jameson, who beat Spicel last year in the finals, can become Ohioâ€™s 16th four-time state champ. Jameson is in the 145-pound class, one up from Spicel.
Bournival may be reached at Bournival929@sbcglobal.net or 330-721-4045.