The 20th annual Walsh Jesuit Ironman National Tournament is considered to be one of the most grueling and difficult competitions in the nation. Wrestlers from 32 states from across the country send wrestlers to the Ironman. Wauseon sent two representatives to the tournament, and for the second year in a row had a wrestler place.
Aaron Schuette (170 lbs), the state runner up in his weight class last year, and Wade Hodges (132 lbs), a two time state placer, both entered in to the tournament as 11 seeds in their weight classes. “Both guys competed in the tournament last year” said wrestling coach Mike Ritter “…both finished with 1 win and 2 losses, so they knew what to expect going in to their second time around.”
After losing a 5-1 decision in the first round to Pittsburg Catholic Central’s Kyle Coniker, Schuette would go on to win two straight consolation matches. His first win was a 9-3 decision against Loveland Ohio’s James Caniglia, and the second was a first period pinfall of Sam Atkinson from Parkersburg South, West Virginia. Schuette’s day came to an end when he suffered a 7-4 loss to Tracey Eitel of Allen Texas. “[Aaron’s] kind of a light 170 pounder and it really showed at this tournament.” Ritter said “He wrestled well, but the size difference at this level of competition will take it’s toll on you. He’s got a decision to make to continue to compete at 170 or drop to 160.”
Wade Hodges had a very impressive performance in the tournament. He won his first match against Dom Girannageli from Franklin Regional, Pennsylvania with a second period pin fall. Hodges next opponent was Will Crisco, a nationally ranked wrestler from Wyomining Seminary in Pennsylvania. Hodges was able to pick up a 4-2 decision, moving him on to the next round where he would again face another nationally ranked opponent, this time against Bryce Meredith from Cheyenne, Wyoming. This match would end up with Hodges pinning Meredith, and moving on to become the first Wauseon wrestler to become a semi-finalist in the Ironman tournament. In the semi-final match, Hodges was matched up against #3 seeded Brock Ervin from Union County, Kentucky, and was defeated by a 4-1 decision, which was as close as 2-1 in to the third period. In the consolation semi-final match Hodges went up against fellow Ohio wrestler Brent Moore from St. Paris Graham. The contest went in to overtime, but Hodges was defeated on a controversial call by the official. “90% of the time when we see those exact same situations, the wrestlers are allowed to continue the scramble until someone clearly establishes control. That was not the case in this match” said Coach Ritter”. Hodges would be defeated in the fifth place match by a decision of 5-0, giving him the 6th place finish in his weight class.
“This is the second year we’ve had wrestlers compete at the Ironman and the second year we had a 6th place finisher.” Ritter said. “Last year, Zane Krall finished 6th and he wound up an Ohio State Champion. Hopefully, history can repeat itself for Hodges and some other of our wrestlers, including Schuette who was a State Runner-Up. We need these kind of high level, national tournaments to get our kids ready for the Ohio State Tournament. We’ll continue to apply for kids to compete at this tournament and hopefully crown a champion.