Wrestling: Connor Euton wins first Westerville North Warriors' state championship since 2010

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
North's Connor Euton beat Darnai Heard of Cincinnati La Salle 9-4 to win the Division I state title at 145 pounds March 14 at Hilliard Darby. Euton finished the season 29-0 and won the program's first state title since 2010.

Connor Euton has become a legend, at least for the Westerville North wrestling program.

The 145-pound junior – who finished the season unbeaten and won a Division I sate championship March 14 at Hilliard Darby – said coach David Grant told him one thing before he took the mat for the final.

“Coach Grant told me, ‘This is where legends are made,’” Euton said. “‘You earned this, go out and show us.’”

Euton took control early in his 9-4 win over Cincinnati La Salle’s Darnai Heard. He finished 29-0 and has not lost a match since going 1-2 in the 2019 state tournament as a freshman.

He said stopping Heard’s first takedown attempt was the pivotal moment in the match.

“(Heard) took that shot at the beginning, right off the whistle,” said Euton, who was North’s first state champion since Josh Demas at 171 in 2010. “He took that shot and when I stopped it, I could feel every muscle in his body give out. I knew he was done.

“He was supposed to take me down in the first 10 seconds and ride me out the rest of the period. After that he still had some fight in him but as soon as he missed that, he was done.”

Euton was one of four competitors at state for North. Senior Brennan Albertini placed fifth at 195 and senior Jake Gooding was seventh at 126. Senior Nico Candido was 1-2 at 170 to finish 25-4, but did not place. 

All four had qualified for state last season, but the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Albertini finished 23-5 after pinning Brecksville’s Max Vanadia in 54 seconds in the fifth-place match.

“I fought my way back after losing in the quarterfinal, so this feels great,” said Albertini, who has signed to play football at Morehead State. “I’m glad to get my shot at the state tournament after last year. You have to work and persevere through everything that challenges you.”

Gooding pinned Centerville’s Luke Acuna in 2:05 in the seventh-place match to finish 33-4.

“You always want to go out on a win,” said Gooding, who has a 4.9 grade-point average and is in line to be North’s valedictorian this spring. “It’s kicking in now that my high school wrestling career is over, but I’ve learned so much about wrestling and life through my years. I’m taking all the things I’ve learned with me for the rest of my life.”

Euton won a title at district March 6 and 7 at Darby, where Albertini finished as runner-up and both Candido and Gooding were third.

Senior Gabe Ohle (120 pounds) was sixth at district, and also competing were seniors Mitchell Gillam (220) and Nate Morse (138), juniors Christian Hunt (106) and Edwin White (132) and sophomore Corey Howlett (182).

North won its second consecutive league title by going unbeaten in the OCC-Capital Division at 7-0 ahead of Delaware (6-1).

“Hopefully (Euton’s state title) will motivate the other kids a little,” Grant said. “It changes the belief system sometimes when it’s a kid from your school (winning) or it’s someone they sit down to lunch with every day. It attracts more kids and motivates the ones we do have.”

Central seniors Josiah Mair and Gary Steele reached the state tournament for the first time. 

Mair rebounded from a 20-3 loss by technical fall to Massillon Perry’s Logan Shepherd in the opening round to beat Toledo Whitmer’s Cameron Piercy 5-1 before falling 4-3 to Dublin Coffman’s Michael Blocher to finish 33-9. 

Mair accounted for the Warhawks’ one point as they tied for 72nd behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (184.5) as 78 teams scored. 

Steele went 0-2 at 152, falling by pin to Huber Heights Wayne’s Austin Mullins (2:51) and by a 3-2 decision to Painesville Riverside’s Danny Martich to finish 35-7. 

“Both of them wrestled really well,” coach Jerry McSwords said. 

Other key contributors were seniors Logan Moore (170, 2-2 at district, 34-6), Tate Sterling (160, 1-2 at district, 25-13) and C.J. Spinosi (195, 16-15), juniors Reign Solosa (120, 19-15) and Jack Traudt (145, 14-15), sophomore Collin Hunt (106, 0-2 at district, 22-11) and freshman Daine Cochern (126, 12-12). 

“We had outstanding senior leadership throughout this whole (pandemic) mess,” McSwords said. “They’ve been great leaders even when they were freshmen.” 

Central went 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Gahanna for second behind champion Grove City (5-0). 

–Frank DiRenna

South senior Fuanyi Fobellah capped his prep career by competing at state. 

The 132-pounder went 0-2, losing to Avon’s Cael Saxton 5-3 in the opening round and Cincinnati Colerain’s Jacob Brewer 9-2 in his first consolation match to finish 25-3. 

“He enjoyed that,” coach George Crooks said of Fobellah’s experience at state. “Getting there was a big deal. He’s a hard worker. He definitely earned it and deserved to be there.” 

Fobellah qualified for state last season at 113, but the tournament was canceled because of COVID-19. He finished 102-34 for his career, earning his 100th career win at the district tournament. 

Junior David Javier, a transfer from Central, went 3-3 at district to place sixth at 113 and finished 15-11. Javier earned his 100th career win Jan. 30 at Hilliard Bradley. 

Other district qualifiers were senior Frankie Achambeng (heavyweight, 1-2 at district, 7-7) and juniors Ethan Stofel (170, 1-2, 14-9), Tyler O’Reilly (220, 1-2, 18-6), Harun Ali (113, 0-2, 7-11) and Orlando Lizama (138, 0-2, 13-11). 

South went 2-3 in the OCC-Capital to tie Dublin Scioto for fifth behind champion North (7-0). 

–Frank DiRenna

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CENTRAL

•OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (5-0), Gahanna and Westerville Central (3-2), New Albany and Pickerington North (2-3), Westland (0-5) 

•Seniors lost: Jackson Bond, Alex Dean, Luis Gonzalez, Zeke Healy, Logan Moore, Caleb Scheideger, C.J. Spinosi, Gary Steele and Tate Sterling 

•Key returnees: Daine Cochern, Collin Hunt, Reign Solosa and Jack Traudt 

•Postseason: Seventh (110) at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (277), tied for 16th (38) at district behind champion Coffman (228.5), tied for 72nd (1) at state behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (184.5) 

NORTH

•OCC-Capital standings: Westerville North (7-0), Delaware (6-1), Big Walnut (3-2), Canal Winchester (4-3), Dublin Scioto and Westerville South (both 2-3), Worthington Kilbourne (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)

•Seniors lost: Brennan Albertini, Thomas Alston, Sylvester Bockarie, Josh Borden, Evan Boyd, Nico Candido, Mitchell Gillam, Jake Gooding, Bryce Long, Nate Morse, Mohammed Masser, Gabe Ohle, Andrew Owusu and Louis Saggio

•Key returnees: Connor Euton, Corey Howlett, Christian Hunt and Edwin White

•Postseason: First (275) at sectional, third (116.5) at district behind champion Coffman (228.5), eighth (51.5) at state behind St. Edward (184.5)

SOUTH 

•Seniors lost: Frankie Achambeng, Andrew DeVictor and Fuanyi Fobellah 

•Key returnees: David Javier, Orlando Lizama and Tyler O’Reilly 

•Postseason: Fourth (121) at sectional behind champion Marysville (247), 18th (35) at district behind champion Coffman (228.5), did not score at state