By Gary Althiser

COLUMBUS OH- To say things went well for the YSN family at the state tournament would be putting it mild
ly. In 2023, 19 wrestlers finished in the top eight, while this season the number increased to 22. Like last season, two wrestlers were crowned champions, but unlike last season one of them – East Liverpool’s Makyah Newlun – become YSN’s first female to win a gold medal. A lot of other interesting and exciting things happened over the weekend, here are a few.

Cardiac Kids

In what might have been the most exciting match of the tournament for YSN, East Liverpool freshman Paige Cowan pulled off an improbable win over Harrison’s Caiden Baird in the opening round. Down 4-2 with 12 seconds remaining, Baird was penalized with her second stalling call, giving Cowan a point, and cutting the lead to just one. With the clock ticking, Cowan took a shot near the edge of the circle, popping her head out to the side with control as time expired. The official raisedhis hand with two fingers pointing up, signaling Cowan was awarded a takedown, giving her a 5-4 win. The win proved to be an important one for Cowan as she finished 8th for the potters.

Following suit in his finals match, Cowan’s teammate on the boys side, Tristan Eckles, also pulled off a win with time expiring. Down 3-1 with 14 seconds remaining in the third period, Eckles worked from the bottom position to not only secure a reversal but also two near-fall points in the process. Those final four points gave Eckles a 5-3 win and a 7th place finish.


Louisville’s 126-pound wrestler Kolten Barker might have wrestled more minutes per match than anyone else in the tournament. Barker finished 3rd, and in his five matches, not only were there no pins, but three of the matches went to overtime, with the other two being decided by just two points each. In two of Barkers three overtime wins, the matches went to a tie breaker which means a full minute overtime period, followed by two 30 second periods after the full 6-minute match. The other overtime match went to an ultimate tie breaker, which means three 30 second periods were wrestled after the first full minute overtime. That is 36 minutes and 30 seconds of wrestling in just five matches. To put that into perspective, that’s 31 minutes and 10 seconds more than Newlun spent on the mat the entire tournament. Barker’s only defeat was a 5-3 semi-finals loss to Saint Mary’s Memorial’s Tate Hisey, the eventual state champion.


Four YSN wrestlers made it to the semi-finals, but only two came away with wins, Newlun and Garrettsville Garfield’s Keegan Sell. The other two wrestlers, United’s Dallas McCracken and Southern’s Gabriel Blissenbach, suffered defeats in overtime. Both McCracken and Blissenbach scored just before time expired in the third period to force overtime. McCracken secured a takedown that saw the 285-pounder leap over his opponent to score, while Blissenbach was awarded a stalling point with about five seconds left in the match. Unfortunately, both gave up takedowns in overtime to seal their fate. McCracken finished 5th to become a three-time state placer, while Blissenbach finished 3rd to become Southern’s first all-state wrestler.


While they may not technically wrestle and score points for the same team, I do not think anyone will argue against using the word teammates when discussing boys and girls wrestlers from the same school. Most practice at the same time in the same wrestling room, and you can see success from one bleeding into the other. For United, McCracken was joined on the podium with two female wrestlers: Auston Brown who finished 3rd, and his sister, Dakota, who finished 7th. For Hubbard, Nick Bowser placed 4th, and Emily Flynn 6th. Howland had two wrestlers in the top eight: Adam Heckman 2nd, and Madison Burns 5th. Salem had multiple boys and girls wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, with one placer – Annika Murray who finished 6th.

68 Years

East Liverpool ended two long droughts while in Columbus, both of which have stood since the 1950’s. Newlun became the first wrestling state champion for the school since brothers Darryl and Jim Hoppel brought home titles in 1955. A year after that in 1956 was the last time three Potters placed at the state tournament in the same season until Cowan, Eckles, and Newlun accomplished the feat last weekend. The Potters girls finished 11th overall out of over 100 teams represented.