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Mentor wrestling team advances all five of its qualifiers to Day 2 of the state tournament

Mar. 8—COLUMBUS — There's one benefit to having twin brothers who smacked you around on a wrestling mat when you were younger.

You learn to dish out what you took.

Such is the case of Mentor's senior 132-pounder Jack DeBoe. Growing up in a tough wrestling family, DeBoe said he spent plenty of times being the wrestling rag doll of his twin brothers Conner and Nate. It paid off on March 8 when DeBoe hung a 15-0 technical fall on Worthington's Dean Poppy on Day 1 of the Division I state wrestling tournament using primarily a tilt.

"I can't count how many times," DeBoe said when asked how many times his big brothers tilted him in family drills. "Seeing them doing it shows how successful it is. It's my bread-and-butter. My whole family does it. It's been my main move my entire career."

Apparently the tilt-a-thon isn't exclusive to the DeBoe family, because not long after DeBoe wrecked his first-round opponent with that move, teammate Nick Blackburn (138 pounds) did the same thing in a 16-0 tech fall over Olentangy Liberty's Zade Archibald.

"I think it's all of Mentor's bread and butter," Blackburn said of the vaunted tilt. "We practice that all the time. I had a 2-on-1 each time, I just rolled through and tilted him."

DeBoe and Blackburn entered last year's state tournament as No. 4 seeds, but pulled upsets to get to the state podium. This year, they're taking care of business as higher seeds and enjoying the same type of success.

While DeBoe and Blackburn were the only two Mentor wrestlers to get through the quarterfinal round, three of their teammates bounced back after first-round losses to win their first consolation. Diego Stropko (126), Antonio Shelley (144) and Liam Lloyd (175) all won their first consolation matches to remain alive in the consolation bracket.

Stropko took a 7-2 decision over Ashland's Guardian Miller, Shelley pinned Centerville's Arslan Berikov and Lloyd pinned Newark's Kallan Baker in their comeback matches. In doing so, Shelley and Stropko each recorded their 150th career victory.

"It was a bad loss, but I recouped, restarted and got after it," Lloyd said of his opening-round loss. "(Bouncing back) just the mentality that we train with. The match is never over until it's over."

All eight of the area's Division I boys wrestlers remain alive after the first day of the tournament, including Riverside's tandem of David Rocha (126) and Antonio Bottiggi (285). Rocha lost his opener and trailed in his consi match, but rallied for a 10-8 sudden victory to keep alive. Bottiggi got two third-period takedowns for a 5-2 win over Marysville's Gage Counts.

"It was pretty difficult to score," Bottiggi said. "He had some good shot defense. I had to win that match."

Chardon's Will Vucetic took a 10-2 major decision over Dublin Coffman's Sammy Moloney to advance to the quarterfinals after going 0-2 in last year's state tournament.

"I think it was a little more of an ignition — an urgency," Vucetic said. "It's my senior year this year and I'm trying to get to the podium this year."

On the girls side, two of the area's five qualifiers have advanced in the consolation bracket. Mentor's Lorelai Megery was pinned in his opener, but rebounded for a second-period pin of Watkins Memorial's Mila Cruz at 100 pounds, while Brush's Le'Nasia Dickson bounced back from a 34-second pin in the opener to pin Cincinnati Sycamore's Agam Lahyani at 235 pounds.

"My motivation was to keep going," Dickson said. "I have a lot to prove. I feel like when I'm on top of them and have the headlock, I've got it. It's time to go."