Klimak and Paes set off to Columbus for state tournament

Junior filled with confidence, seeking to maintain undefeated season

Freshman Cohen Klimak and junior Donovan Paes are wrestling in the state tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus today through Sunday. 

Following a huge weekend at the district tournament at Norwalk High School, two of Streetsboro’s 10 wrestlers advanced to Columbus. After winning his 132-pound weight class at sectionals, Paes remains undefeated for the season. Coming in fourth in the 150 weight class, Klimak became the second freshman in Streetsboro history to compete in Columbus. 

Reflecting on the weekend, Paes said, “I felt good in my semi-final match. I was just excited to go again as a junior.” His expectations for states are to “wrestle my match and do the best that I can.” 

Klimak said he did not know how to react when he realized he was going to states. He said, “It’s definitely one of the feelings that’s so good you don’t know what to do. “You want to give Coach a hug. It’s kinda something you’ve been waiting for all season.”

Freshman Cohen Klimak wrestles at home.

Having been to the state tournament last year, Paes is still unsure of what it will be like. Last year’s tournament was held at multiple high schools to abide by COVID guidelines and social distancing orders. This year, it returns to the Schottenstein Center. 

Coach Josh Zupancic said of the return, “it’s definitely a different environment in the arena.” 

Paes’ main concern with the arena is “trying to hear what your coach is saying.”

Going in blind, Klimak is nervous about the noise that he will hear in the tunnel before his match. “Walking through the tunnel, I’ve heard, is really nerve wracking,” he said. 

Junior Donovan Paes and freshman Cohen Klimak start their “clap out” walk with Principal Brett McCann for the schoolwide sendoff to states Thursday afternoon. (Ella Hodge)

Klimak is going into the tournament with relatively low pressure on his shoulders, but looks forward to the experience. “There’s less pressure because I don’t have anything to lose, so I think I’ll go out there and wrestle my match. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Just go out there and start strong.”

For updates and coverage, visit: https://www.ohsaa.org/Sports-Tournaments/Wrestling/2021-22-Wrestling/2022-Wrestling-State-Tournament-Coverage