The month of June was productive for some area athletes, who announced their intentions to play sports at the college level.

On June 13, two-time state champion and rising St. Edward High School senior Bryce Hepner made official his commitment to wrestle for Rutgers University. He was the latest in a string of high-profile signings made by Scarlet Knights head coach Scott Goodale as he looks to build a national power in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Hepner, who holds state titles at 126 and 138 pounds, will start the school year as the 13th-ranked grappler in the country at 145 pounds. At Rutgers he will join a class that includes three other recruits ranked in the national top 20 by FloWrestling. One of them is Elyria’s Dylan Shawver.

In addition to his individual state title in March, Hepner helped the Eagles to the Division I State team title in Columbus, as well as the team dual tournament crown.

In other news from St. Ed’s, before the Eagles begin a defense of their Div. I State football championship this fall, one of their key players also made a college choice. Jeff Pietrowski, an incoming senior who led the Eagles with 11½ sacks last season at linebacker, signed to continue his football career at Michigan State June 18. He’d previously played defensive end.

COACHING CHANGE

On June 17, Josh Campbell took the reins as interim head girls soccer coach at Lutheran West. He replaces Mia Thomay, who led the Longhorns for the previous five seasons, most recently a 10-6-1 campaign in 2018.

Campbell, who played collegiately for Concordia University-Wisconsin, was an assistant girls coach at Lutheran West in 2002, and was the boys head coach for a five-year stretch afterward.

“Coaching has always been my passion and the means of fulfilling my life’s mission of modeling character, fostering relationships and serving others to increase Christ’s kingdom,” Campbell said in a release issued by the school. “I’m extremely excited about working with the young ladies on the Lutheran West soccer team in a different role on the pitch and within our community again.”

GIRLS WRESTLING TOURNEY SET

The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association announced June 12 that it will sanction a girls State tournament for the upcoming season, taking place Feb. 22-23 at Hilliard Davidson High School in Columbus.

The tournament became a reality after a year of consultation between the OHSWCA, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Ohio Wrestling Officials Association, USA Wrestling (OH) and a host of parents and coaches.

OHSAA wrestling administrator Tyler Brooks and former OHSWCA president Dominic DiSabato also were credited the legwork to get the event off the ground.

DiSabato, a wrestling legend in the Columbus area, will serve as the tournament director. A winner of three State championships, he coached the team at Hilliard Davidson for 19 years and produced 24 State placers during that time. He resigned from coaching in 2018, but still teaches at the school.

OHSWCA president Dean Conley said in a news release that the ultimate aim of the girls tournament is to grow it to where it can be absorbed into the OHSAA’s yearly slate of state events.

“It is our goal to make this a first-class event and build it to ‘emerging sport’ status with the OHSAA,” Conley said. “Once we meet the requirements, we plan on handing this over to the OHSAA like we did with the State dual tournament.”

More than 200 females participated in wrestling across the state this past season. Lutheran West was one local school that went a step further, starting a separate girls team that competed at the Ohio Athletic Committee’s State tournament in March and produced a champion in then-junior Allyssa Pirro.

In January, the Longhorns will make more history by adding a girls-only division to their annual Ron Alexander tournament.

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