Clay wrestlers looking to win ninth title in 10 years

J. Patrick Eaken

When you return 19 lettermen, including four league champions and four state qualifiers, you are likely feeling good about your upcoming season. 

At Clay, it’s been that way for years — the wrestling program shuffles in new experienced wrestlers to fill the void left by those who graduated — many of whom go on to wrestle collegiately.

This year, Clay’s wrestling season was put on hold because of the Lucas County Health Department’s order suspending high school sports until mid-January, but when it does return, watch out.

Last year, five state qualifiers were underclassmen, including then-freshman Micah Medina (38-13 at 106 pounds), junior Jacob Moon (39-3, 113), junior Mike Daly (38-13, 132), sophomore Tyler Weseman (40-13, 170) and sophomore Ty Cobb (39-10, 195).

Moon, who transferred to Perrysburg for his senior year, entered the season with 120 career wins and Daly has 101. Rodriguez, the team’s Most Improved Wrestler, finished 32-4. Moon was the team MVP and Medina the freshman of the year. At 145, then-sophomore Dominico Migliori, who won the team’s Hammer Award, was a state alternate, finishing 36-14.

Cobb, Weseman, Medina and Nick Rodriguez (113) won Three Rivers Athletic Conference championships, as did the Eagles. 

Clay has won eight of nine Three Rivers Athletic Conference championships, including a performance last year that saw the Eagles win seven of 14 weight classes on their way to routing second place Whitmer 238-139½. With the depth Clay has returning veteran coach Ralph Cubberly expects no less this year.

“I expect my TRAC champions and state qualifiers to be our leaders this year because of their experience level,” Cubberly said. “Our team goal is to always win our conference championship. Our conference is always tough with eight well-coached teams.

“The league is always the first step,” Cubberly said. “Our first team goal is the TRAC — we want to win the TRAC. We lost it one year by one point (to Fremont Ross). That Fremont team was good and we had to do everything we could to keep it that close but we fell just a little bit short.”

Last year, Clay was 27-3 in dual meets and the Division I regional dual meet runners-up, finishing behind nationally-ranked Elyria.

A few weeks later, the D-I state meet was canceled due to the global pandemic. If it had been held, there was a chance Clay would have had seven wrestlers, including alternates, competing, leading to a high team finish. 

That was tops among the nine schools in the Eastern Maumee Bay community that have wrestling programs, plus you can include two Central Catholic wrestlers who were from Northwood. Of the nine programs, five won league titles.

For Clay, potentially seven wrestlers scoring at state would still not have been enough to upend top programs like Lakewood St. Edward or Elyria for a state title, but it would have notched Clay a little higher when it comes to state or national recognition.

While Cubberly says his team’s strengths this year are his wrestlers’ work ethic and experience, he wants to see them “improve in the top and bottom positions and become pinners,” which would result in more badly needed team points at those big events. 


Stepping up to the Gold

To keep his program strong, Cubberly has multiple wrestlers ready to step up, many getting varsity experience on the program’s Green, or “B”, team.

“Dominico Migliori, Zach Krause (28-8, 160), Lucas Frazier (38-8, 152), Isaac Sevra (14-10, 160), Daniel Cooper (29-12, 285), Cole Watson (16-4, 126) and Candio DeLuna (19-8, 113) — all of these wrestlers had successful seasons on our B team last year and we are looking for big things from each of them this season,” Cubberly said.

Last year, Clay had the top two teams in the TRAC junior varsity meet, keeping this program well-established for years to come. 

Many of those JV and Green team wrestlers were going against varsity wrestlers during the regular season, and often the Gold team would score well at one meet, and on the same day, the Green team would score well somewhere else.

“(Last) year, less than 50 percent of the kids in our lineup wrestled for the starting Gold team and we’re still wrestling tough,” Cubberly said, adding that multiple Eagles won JV championships after wrestling varsity competition on the Green team all season. The coach believes it helps when the Gold and Green team wrestlers take on each other in practice, too. Now many of those Green team wrestlers will move up to the Gold team this year.

“It’s tough to beat us because those kids are seasoned,” Cubberly said. “When they (opponents) come to wrestle our Gold team they’ve got a lot of varsity experience under their belt — wrestling with that Green team.”

Plus, if an injury happens, the Eagles are prepared. Next man up, Cubberly says. There were 38 wrestlers on Clay’s varsity roster last year — not many Division I programs could say that, and 38 was actually down from years prior.

“That’s an advantage to us, is that we have a man we can plug right in there — someone who has experience,” Cubberly said.

Cubberly also notes the experience he has in his coaching staff, which includes Drew Lashaway, a state champion at Eastwood and Mid-American Conference champion at Kent State University. Josh Lenix, a high school state champion, who wrestled for Eastern Michigan University, and the coach’s son, Eric Cubberly, a two-time high school state champion who wrestled for Central Michigan University.

“Oregon Clay has a great coaching staff — we have five former head coaches along with three assistants on our staff who each have at least one OHSAA state championship to their name and all have NCAA Division I college wrestling experience,” Cubberly said, adding that assistant Rich Wagner has been coaching 30 years, Travis Traxler eight years, Troy McLaughlin five years and Eric Cubberly two years. 

Ralph Cubberly has spent 10 of his 32 years coaching at Clay, where his teams have a career record of 184-41. He also coached at his alma mater, Eastwood, from 1988-2008 and at Defiance from 2009-10 with a combined career dual meet record of 489-136. 

His teams have won 13 league championships, including five in the Suburban Lakes League. In 2006, he was Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year and became an OHSWCA Hall of Fame inductee in 2010. 



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