That’s the circumstances starring Chargers’ sophomore 113-pounder Casey Barnett right in the face. One more state title would put him on watch for being one of the state’s next four-time state champs. More immediately, however, he’d become his school’s first-ever two-time state title holder.
“I don’t feel the pressure quite like [older brother] Brady [Barnett] did. However, I do feel a little bit of pressure to win it again,” said Casey Barnett, one of six Edison wrestlers competing in today’s Division state individual tournament in Columbus. “I don’t want to be someone who only wins it as a freshman, then never does it again.”
Two more wins and the younger Barnett (57-1) would tie what he did a year ago, also tying Brady Barnett and Evan Cheek for most single-season wins in program history. Three more, he’ll be the first Charger to 60 wins in one campaign.
“I feel the best I’ve felt all year. I’m healthy and I’ve wrestling pretty good, too,” Casey Barnett said.
In seven postseason matches, Casey has six pins. Oak Harbor’s Tyler Davis went the distance with him in the district final with the Edison star coming out a 7-2 winner by decision.
Unbeaten Lucian Brink (49-0), a junior who Casey reversed and scored a near fall on in the final 10 seconds of last year’s 106 title match, is responsible for the one loss. Brink won a title rematch 4-3 at SMCC’s Division III Duals in late January. Brink, along with Rootstown sophomore Caleb Edwards (43-4) — twice a winner over Casey in the offseason — are both on the opposite side of the bracket, meaning Casey needs to beat only one to earn a second-straight title.
“Those two are both solid wrestlers,” Casey said. “I kind of have them figured out, but I think I’m capable of beating both if I wrestle my best. You got to have confidence.”
Resentment works, too. Just ask senior two-time state-placer Ray Adams. Fourth at state as a junior at 113, he was ranked as only the fifth-best grappler for the 120-pound class at the Lakota District.
“I think he took offense to it, which is good,” Edison coach Davy Hermes said. “But he lost some matches this year to kids ranked ahead of him.
“That was the toughest weight class at the district because there were five quality kids there. The kid that didn’t make it out [Antwerp’s Aidan McAlexander] was third at state last year.”
Adams (54-6) has quietly asserted himself as one of the top Chargers of all-time. He became the fifth Edison wrestler to reach 200 career wins with his first-period pin of Millbury Lake’s Lucas Warner in the quarterfinals this past Saturday. He now has 202, putting him one short of tying Kyle Burns for fourth on the all-time school list. Only 13 wrestlers in OHSAA history have more victories to date — four being former Chargers.
Current Cleveland State teammates Evan Cheek and Brady Barnett are fourth and fifth in OHSAA history with 214 and 212 wins, respectively. Both also won their first state titles as seniors.
In taking third at districts, Adams got revenge on Liberty Center’s Dylan Matthews — who beat Adams in the state duals 2-1 — with a dominating 11-5 victory after nearly getting revenge on Eastwood’s Brandon Hahn. Hahn, who previously beat Adams by a lopsided margin, held on for a 5-2 semifinal win.
“I think in the back of some people’s minds, they think I can get to the finals,” Adams said. “I want to pull that upset. It’s my senior year and I want to leave it out there.”
Adams will open with Andover Pymatuning Valley’s Jake Edelman (35-7) in the opener. A pair of wins could get him another shot at Hahn in Friday night’s semifinals.
“I’m figuring out a game plan against most of the kids I’m wrestling and I’m adapting,” Adams said. “Everybody knows me as leg rider, but I’ve done much more. I think I proved that this past weekend.”
Transferring over from Elyria as a junior, Vermilion resident Jordan Keegan (53-8) ended a very successful first campaign with the Chargers, taking sixth at state at 138. This year as a senior, he’ll be among the favorites to place high in the same weight class. He’ll open with Rocky River Lutheran West’s Parker Watson (46-5).
Only this year, a three-time state champion in Genoa’ Dylan D’Emilio (50-3) — a future Ohio State Buckeye — resides in his bracket, looking to make himself the 32nd wrestler in OHSAA history to win four crowns.
“You have to beat him to be state champ. It’s a great goal and challenge to have” Keegan said. “Seeing him this past week [9-1 semifinal loss] gave me a nice look at how he’s wrestling and gave me a chance to see some things that I could possibly setup.”
Much easier said than done.
“He’s an all-around good wrestler,” said Keegan of D’Emilio. “He’s not bad at anything, which makes him so hard to beat.”
Edison junior Jacob Brewer (39-3) has also been a handful this year. He’ll make his state debut today against Versailles’ Isaac Grilliot (40-10) who he pinned just 3 1/2 weeks earlier in the state semifinals of the state team duals.
“It’s been a personal goal of mine for a long time to get to the state tournament, growing up and always going down to watch,” Brewer said. “This year has been crazy for me coming off the injury. It’s just good to see my hard work paying off. Even though I couldn’t play football, just doing all the rehab and stuff it took to get to this point makes this really rewarding.”
Freshmen Alec Homan (49-9) at 106 and Shadrick Slone (56-8) at 145 were the lone survivors from the Chargers’ great first-year class. Homan will get Sarahsville Shenandoah’s Alex Overly (35-5) while Slone will tangle with Col. Bishop Ready’s Andrew Halko (33-5).
Edison has never finished higher than third in a state tournament. The six qualifiers is the second-most in program history (seven in 1992).
“Genoa could have a bad weekend and still win it,” Hermes said. “That is what it is. But I think we’ve put ourselves in position to have a battle with Rootstown and Troy Christian for second.
“However, it will take all six of our kids placing to beat those teams out. We can’t have guys getting upset if they lose a match and not bouncing back from it.”