COLUMBUS — A year ago, Mick Burnett finished one step shy of winning a Division I state. This season, the Elyria junior climbed that final step.
Enrique Munguia hopes history repeats itself after the 152-pound sophomore fell short in his quest to be the best.
It came quick in a 19-3 loss to St. Edward’s Sam Dover in the state final.
“He’s got a high ceiling, man,” Pioneers coach Erik Burnett said. “The thing about Enrique is he’s not afraid. He’ll do anything when he’s wrestling. He’s dangerous all the time. That’s what makes him so fun to coach. He’s going to go out there and try things.”
His willingness to let it fly began with a win over Brecksville returning state champion Victor Voinovich at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman. What followed was a 41-win season that included a Greater Cleveland Conference championship and runner-up finishes at sectional, district and state.
“That gave me a lot of confidence just knowing that I’m hanging with the top guys in the state and country,” Munguia said of his win over Voinovich. “It built my confidence.”
It was the confidence Munguia needed after an ankle injury knocked him out of the Perrysburg district as a freshman.
Back and ready for more, the 152-pounder never stopped pushing. When he suffered one of his nine losses heading into the state tournament, he always came back with a vengeance to help the team succeed.
“He was kind of up and down,” Erik Burnett said. “He started off the season great and then went through a phase where he wasn’t wrestling great. He struggled with his confidence and then pulled it together.
“To hang tough like that and work hard like that when things aren’t going your way was huge. You can’t teach that. It’s something he has.”
It’s also something Munguia will put to good use in the future as he tries to climb the last rung on the ladder.
“I learned a lot during this season,” Munguia said. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but I’m just looking forward to coming in next year and working hard.”
Avon heavyweight Jack Roesch came up just short in his bid to become the Eagles’ first state champion, falling 3-2 to two-time state placer Jacob Padilla of Huber Heights Wayne in Division I.
The senior, who will play defensive tackle at Air Force, joins some big company as only the third state finalist for Avon. Tommy LaRosa did it at 189 in 2005 in Division II and Zane Zeman did it at 145 in Division II in 2011.
“He’s a great kid,” said an emotional Eagles coach Jeremy Johnson. “I’ve worked first-hand with him a lot. It’s been great. He meant so much to that program with the amount of effort he puts in whether he’s playing football, baseball or wrestling. He has great attitude, great effort. He’s everything you want to coach.”
Johnson’s first state finalist meant even more to the Eagles as an example of what it’s like to strive for success.
“I know the coaches put a lot into this program and I’m glad I could reflect on that this weekend,” said Roesch, who went 38-5 this season. “Of course, it’s not the finish anyone wanted, but you take it and learn from it. Hopefully, those guys that took the trip down here will learn from my mistakes and better the program even more.”
That’s something Avon is banking on when Cael Saxton (106) and Jordan Greer (195) return for their junior and senior seasons, respectively.
“(I want to be known) as a hard-nosed kid and one of the toughest kids around,” Roesch said. “That’s hopefully the legacy I instill upon those young guys like Jordan Greer and Cael Saxton because those kids busted their butts to get down here. I couldn’t be happier for how the team turned out.”
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