Jake Ryan of the Olentangy Liberty High School wrestling team was motivated to win a state championship at 145 pounds in honor of his father, his younger brother and Patriots coach Mark Marinelli.
Most of what the senior has learned about the sport has come from his father, Tom, who is the head coach of the Ohio State wrestling team, and Marinelli. And he hasn't forgotten how as a youth he would wrestle his brother, Teague, who died suddenly while playing at home at age 5 from a heart attack brought on by myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Ryan initially was devastated when he lost to Ashland's Wyatt Music 8-0 in the final of the Division I state tournament, held Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State. But his perspective began to change soon afterward when he met with his family, coaches and friends and they clapped for him when he entered the room.
"I was very emotional after I lost the state final because I wanted to make everyone proud," Ryan said. "(Teague) is always on my mind because he was into wrestling, and I wrestle a lot of my matches for him. I don't wrestle for myself. I wrestle for God, my dad, my coach, my family and my friends, and they were still there to cheer for me after I lost, and that meant a lot to me. My dad told me he was proud of me and that makes me feel a lot better."
Ryan won his first two matches at state, beating Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Austin Strnad 8-0 in his opener and defeating West Chester Lakota West's Kevin Leonhardt 14-1 in the second round.
He then upset Lakewood St. Edward's Edgar Bright -- a three-time state placer who was the state runner-up at 132 and 112 the past two seasons -- 3-2 in overtime in a semifinal to reach the final.
"All three of those kids were tough, but the semifinal was my best match because (Bright is) one of the top kids in the country," said Ryan, who placed seventh at state at 138 last season after going 0-2 at 130 in 2011. "I had to ride him out and I put everything I had into that match.
"It was a great upset victory for me, but I was up too late that night and burned too much energy getting ready for my final match, and I was a little drained the next day."
In the final, Ryan was taken down once in each of the first two periods by Music.
Ryan said he battled a sinus infection last week, tore a ligament in his left thumb in the semifinal match and sprained his back in the final, but he refused to make any excuses for his loss to Music.
"Those injuries were a factor in his last match, but Jake will never say that," Marinelli said. "I think the biggest thing was he wore himself out mentally before the final. He gave everything he had in the final, but he wasn't as sharp as he had been in his first three matches."
Also competing at state for the Patriots were junior Giuseppe Penzone, who placed fifth at 120, and sophomore Jonathan Furnas, who placed seventh at 106.
Penzone went 4-2, pinning three opponents along the way, including North Royalton's Dan Bartinelli in 2 minutes, 13 seconds in the fifth-place match. He had gone 0-2 at 120 last season in his first state appearance.
"This year, I knew what to expect and I was a lot more calm and mentally-focused," Penzone said. "I knew I could place well at state this year, but I didn't expect to get three pins. In my last match, I threw (Bartinelli) with a hip toss and bundled up his arms in a butcher to pin him. I feel good about this whole experience."
Furnas went 3-2 in his first state appearance, beating Pickerington North's Payton Gutierrez 5-3 in the seventh-place match.
"This was a great way to end my season and it's a really good feeling to know that all of my hard work paid off," Furnas said. "I had two takedowns and an escape to beat Gutierrez in the last match of his high school career. Overall, I'm pleased with how I performed."
Liberty scored 40 points at state to place ninth behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (117) as 89 teams scored.
Orange's Timchenko places second at state
Orange was represented at state by senior Artem Timchenko (120) and junior Lenn's Kamba (195).
Timchenko went 3-1 and placed second. He beat Massillon Perry's David Bavery 6-3 in a semifinal, scoring two takedowns and two escapes against last year's state champion at 106, before losing to Solon's Brandon Thompson 3-1 in the final.
Timchenko was leading Thompson 1-0 with 45 seconds left when he was called for stalling a second time, which tied the score. The match resumed with Timchenko on top and Thompson scored a reversal with 20 seconds left for the victory.
Timchenko had placed seventh at state at 112 as a freshman at Orange and fifth at 112 as a sophomore at Perry.
"That was a tough (stalling) call," coach Brian Nicola said. "Artem was going for a pinning combination when he got hit by it, and the crowd strongly disagreed with the call.
"Artem is very upset right now, but he had a great run to get to the state final and he's got a lot of good things going on in his life, so he'll be fine."
Kamba went 0-2 in his first state appearance, as the Pioneers finished 25th (20.5).
Olentangy's Hall wins one match at state
The lone state qualifier for Olentangy was sophomore Nate Hall (182), who went 1-2 in his first state appearance.
"I had lots of nerves, but it was a good experience," he said. "Once I stepped through that dark tunnel and looked up at the (thousands) of people in the stands, it was kind of intimidating. I'm glad that I was able to win a match and I'm hoping for a top-three finish at state in the next two years."
The Braves tied five teams for 67th (3).