By BRAD BOURNIVAL
COLUMBUS â€” Watching Brunswickâ€™s Richie Spicel and the Wadsworth tandem of Brad Squire and Ben Buzzelli compete in the 71st annual state wrestling tournament looks almost as natural as an umbrella on a sandy beach.
The three have been to Columbus before. All of them know what it takes to win and each has the mental makeup to make a run at a title.
None of them put themselves in jeopardy Thursday in the Division I portion at Value City Arena.
â€œItâ€™s my talent, my skills and my want that got me here,â€ said Spicel, who will face Lakewood St. Edwardâ€™s Neil Birt in the quarterfinals today. â€œThe thing that gets most kids is seeing the bright lights and all the fans. Youâ€™ve just got to keep your head down and focus on your next match.â€
Spicel can join Parma Padua graduate and Hinckley Township resident Pat McLemore and Chagrin Kenston alumnus Ricky Deubel as the only wrestlers to win the state tournament as a freshman and then again as a senior.
But first the four-time state qualifier and two-time state finalist had to break through Gahanna Lincolnâ€™s Andrew Evans.
â€œItâ€™s all about who can hit their basics more precise,â€ Spicel said. â€œThose are the ones that will win. You saw (Austintown-Fitchâ€™s) Tony Jameson almost lose. You have to keep your head on straight down here.â€
Jameson, who won 23-20 over Bowling Greenâ€™s Rudy Henron, arguably was pinned three times. That served as a wakeup call for Spicel, who stuck Evans just 1:50 into the first period to win his 140-pound opener.
â€œâ€œEver since I was a sophomore, we looked at the bracket and concentrated on that match,â€ Spicel said. â€œWe didnâ€™t look at who was next. Thereâ€™s always another match that can be dangerous.â€
Squire didnâ€™t waste time either in a 13-2 major decision over Sylvania Southviewâ€™s Alex Latham. Scoring two takedowns in the first period and grabbing three back points in the second, the returning state champion jumped out to an early 7-1 advantage and coasted to the quarterfinals where he will face Hamiltonâ€™s Matt Scheve.
At no time did Squire appear in danger of losing as the sophomore stayed on a semifinal collision course with West Chester Lakota Westâ€™s Ryan Fields, who he beat 1-0 last year to win the state title.
Buzzelli, who went two and out a year ago, made sure he stayed on the top half of the bracket this time.
Having got pinned twice last year and not seeing action on Friday, Buzzelli stayed true to his nerves with a decking of North Ridgevilleâ€™s Greg Byrd.
The 285-pound giant took a scoreless match after the first period and turned it into a 3-1 advantage in the second before putting Bryd to his back with just eight seconds remaining before the third period was set to begin.
Buzzelli will face projected third-place finisher Matt Prichard of Clayton Northmont in the quarterfinals.
Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia refused the media access to his wrestlers.
The quarters will start at 11:25 this morning with the semifinals to follow at 6:30 p.m.
Bournival may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4045.