COLUMBUS -- Madison's Josh Speelman ran into
a brick wall. Northmor's Tyler Heminger knocked
one down only to find his path to glory blocked
anyway. Each knew winning a state wrestling
title wouldn't be easy, but the two area
finalists wish they could have had more to show
for tremendous efforts Saturday night in Value
Speelman lost to Collin Palmer, Lakewood St.
Edward's three-time champ, 5-0 in the Division
I, 135-pound finals. Heminger found a chink in
the armor of Monroeville phenom Cam Tessari,
but a near-pin by the Northmor freshman couldn't
prevent a 12-9 defeat in the Division III, 112
"It was close, but I couldn't get him stuck,"
said Heminger, who rallied from 4-0 and 9-3
deficits to tie the match in the final minute
with a five-point move. "He kept scooting and I
couldn't get his shoulders down."
One of four Monroeville champs, Tessari
wiggled free for his escape and then tacked on
an insurance takedown to spoil the occasion for
Heminger and coach Mike Skelton, who is retiring
after 29 years at the helm.
Skelton was so sure Heminger had the pin he
raised his arms in the direction of Northmor's
cheering section in the upper reaches of the
"We were looking for the win," said Skelton,
denied his third state champ. "(Tessari) fought
hard off his back. Tyler wrestled a great
Speelman was the aggressor in his bout, but
has to settle for being a three-time plac- er
and part of an historical footnote.
Palmer's victory made him one of only four
wrestlers to win six Ohio titles -- three in
junior high and three in high school, with a
He shares that distinction with his brother
Lance, now a star for Ohio State.
"I knew that (Speelman) would come out there
trying big moves," Palmer said. "His dad knows
Greco, so I expected him to try and throw me,
but I knew that if I just stayed low and solid,
I'd be fine."
Jim Speelman, a 1986 state champ for St.
Peter's, has coached Palmer and his brother, a
four-time state champ, on USA Wrestling summer
teams and knows the family well. But he was
surprised at how well Collin fended off his
"I knew he feared Josh's capability for
throwing, but (Palmer) wouldn't give up the
opportunity," Jim Speelman said. "We knew we'd
be in a front headlock. Josh had to come up
through it, but Collin wouldn't let Josh get his
hips up underneath him."
Josh pledged to be more aggressive after
losing to Palmer 5-2 in the district finals.
Palmer handed Speelman his only two losses in 49
"I wasn't ready for that," Speelman said of
Palmer's airtight defense. "He caught me off
Speelman will now gear up for summer
nationals before heading off to Ohio University
to wrestle. He wants to be a nutritionist.
"Josh wrestled tough," Madison coach Doug
Mosier said. "He's made a lot of improvement and
accomplishments in his career. I've known him
since he was a little kid and know his
commitment to the sport.
"He's been a pleasure to be around."
Soon after catching his breath, Heminger was
already looking ahead to his next three years at
Northmor. He wasn't the only one.
"I thought we had a chance at a four-time
state champ," said assistant coach A.J. Wenger,
a former two-time qualifier for the Knights.
"We're going for three now. I know he's got that
in his head."
Heminger nearly pulled off a second miracle
in as many days. On Friday night, he rallied
from an 8-6 deficit in the last eight seconds to
pin Delta's Johnny Tolson.
Wenger summed up the 46-7 ninth-grader with
one word: heart.
"Last year, when I saw everybody else going
to state (Northmor had five qualifiers in 2007),
that's what I wanted to do," Heminger said.
"When I started beating ranked wrestlers, I
thought I could place, but I didn't think I
could make it to the finals.
"It makes me want to work harder so that when
I make the finals next year I'll be ready to