Moments after embracing junior Deron Pulliam for winning his final match in the Division I state tournament held March 7-9 at Ohio State, Dublin Scioto High School wrestling coach Adam Huddle reflected on a season that included several highlights.
Among the highlights was having four state qualifiers for the first time since 1998. Pulliam was joined by state by juniors Daniel Segura and Donovan Hardin and sophomore Dylan Le, and three earned spots on the awards podium.
"We try to talk a lot about the things that matter, which are character and heart and your teammates and doing it for them," Huddle said. "It's not easy to wrestle and that's why it's so great for their character and their heart. We have a bunch of coaches that stress those things and, like the other programs at Scioto, we stress those things and that's what's important to us."
Leading the way at state was Segura, who placed fourth at 145 pounds. Competing in his third state tournament, he went 3-2 to finish the season 49-4.
Segura pinned Harrison's Jacob Bernhardt in 3 minutes, 57 seconds in his opening match and beat Perrysburg's Alex Garee by technical fall (22-5) before being pinned in 3:00 by eventual champion Christopher Donathan of Mason in a semifinal.
Segura bounced back to defeat Clayton Northmont's Andrew Knick 9-3 in a consolation semifinal before being pinned by Wadsworth's Michael North in 4:16 in the third-place match.
Segura, who went 3-2 and placed fourth at state at 138 last season after going 1-2 at 132 as a freshman, earned his 100th career win Dec. 29 by beating Ashland Mapleton's Beau Lefever 19-3 in the final at 152 in the Marion Harding Classic.
In his second state appearance, Pulliam went 4-2 and placed fifth at 195. He earned his 100th career win with a 5-3 victory over Delaware's Jacob McCloskey in a consolation quarterfinal.
"To Daniel and Deron, they couldn't care less about (100 wins)," Huddle said. "We care more about it as a program to have two juniors who have won 100 matches already, but to them, they shrug their shoulders at it, which is OK, too."
Pulliam opened with an 11-4 win over Maple Heights' Chrisean Merritt before losing to Cincinnati LaSalle's Michael Baker 5-3 in a quarterfinal. He then beat Springboro's Jacob Kowalski 13-5 and McCloskey before losing to Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Ethan Hatcher 7-3 in a consolation semifinal.
Pulliam again rebounded to defeat Harrison's Max Boyle 11-8 in the fifth-place match to finish 42-4.
"I was hoping to take first, but things didn't go as planned," said Pulliam, who went 3-2 and placed seventh at state at 182 last year.
Le and Hardin competed at state for the first time. Le went 3-3 and placed sixth at 106, while Hardin went 0-2 at heavyweight.
After defeating Mount Orab Western Brown's A.J. Hurt 10-2 in the first round, Le lost 2-0 to Elyria's Peyton Fenton in a quarterfinal. He responded by beating Cincinnati Sycamore's Jake Vayo-Smith 2-0 and Avon's Cael Saxton 5-2 by ultimate tiebreaker before losing to Wadsworth's Mason Baugh 10-0 and being pinned by Copley's Zane Van Voorhis in 2:26 in the fifth-place match to finish 43-8.
"This was a wake-up call for me a little," Le said. "I know I belong with the top kids in the state. I also felt this is the best I've wrestled this year, because I did a pretty good job on moving my feet and having good offense as well as defense."
Hardin lost to Massillon Perry's Max Millin 7-2 in the opening round before falling to LaSalle's Robert Brown 12-7 to finish 34-12.
Scioto scored 32.5 points at state to finish 11th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (194.5) as 72 teams scored. It was the Eagles' sixth consecutive state title and 33rd overall.
Other expected returnees for the Irish include juniors Gage Hannan (152) and Hussnain Malik (170) and sophomores Austin Birko (113) and Sergio Tellez (195).