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Sherrill Notebook: Pennsylvania, Ohio, 25 other states produce All-Americans
By Rob Sherrill
Traditionally, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the two states that produce the most NCAA All-Americans, and that was the case again this year.
Nearly one in three of this year’s All-Americans – 24 of the 78 who were products of American high school wrestling – were natives of one of the two states. The Keystone State produced 13 All-Americans, Ohio 11.
Making it a Big Five in terms of numbers of All-Americans produced: California (7), Illinois (6) and Missouri (4). No other state produced more than three.
But several areas of the nation were well represented. Case in point: the Pacific Northwest. Every state on or north of Interstate 70 –and west of the Mississippi River – produced at least one All-American.
Pennsylvania also led the nation with three champions, with Jordan Oliver (149) of Oklahoma State and Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197), both of NCAA team champion Penn State, all becoming two-time champions. Seven other states – California, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, New York, Oklahoma and Minnesota – each produced one.
It’s good to see the wealth being spread. Let’s hope that continues into the future.
The plot thickens at 113
Just six weeks ago, Zahid Valencia of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco looked to be as much of a lock to keep his No. 1 national ranking as any leader of any weight class. Not surprisingly, Valencia, the state champion at 106 as a freshman a year ago, was the heavy favorite to make it two at 113.
As a regular reader of this feature, you already know what happened. Valencia was upset in the state semifinals by a wrestler he had beaten twice during the season, Sean Williams of Lemoore. He came back strong in the consolations to finish third.
Despite the loss, however, Valencia remains a strong candidate to keep his No. 1 ranking despite the fact that two of his major rivals at the weight, juniors Stevan Micic of Cedar Lake (Ind.) Hanover Central and Brent Fleetwood of Smyrna (Del.), completed unbeaten seasons by winning their second state titles. Fleetwood was voted his state’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Making it a Big Three among 113-pound juniors: Sean Russell of Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill. Six weeks after winning his third state title in big-school Class 6A, Russell squared off against Fleetwood in the finals of the NHSCA Junior Nationals at Virginia Beach, Va., prevailing 8-3 in one of the most anticipated matches of the championship round.
As for Micic, he could make his bid for the top spot this weekend at Las Vegas, where he’s set to compete in the FILA Junior Nationals in freestyle.
Meanwhile, Valencia appears to have put the 113-pound weight class firmly in his rear-view mirror. He moved up to 120 and won the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals at Cedar Falls, Iowa. Also the Cadet National freestyle champion at that weight class last summer at Fargo, expect to see him there again this July.