CANFIELD - Georgio Poullas probably could have gone to his "dream school" of Ohio State.
The senior wrestler for Canfield High School is ranked nationally in the top 10, is a four-time state placer and a returning state champion.
Poullas won his third straight district crown at 160 pounds Saturday at the Division II district championship match at Alliance High School.
The Cardinals didn't lose very often, as they claimed the school's first district wrestling title with 151 team points, well in front of Lake Catholic (125.5) and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (124.5).
Poullas was one of two district champs for Canfield, with good friend David Crawford winning the 170-pound championship match after beating Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's David Heath, 3-2, in double overtime.
Poullas, the top-ranked Division II wrestler at 160 pounds, pinned three of the four opponents he wrestled, including SVSM's Michael Mcintire in the first period of the championship bout. He is the first wrestler in head coach Dean Conley's 18 years as coach to enter the state tournament undefeated as he's now 40-0.
Six Cardinals overall qualified for the state wrestling tournament, which begins today and runs through Saturday.
The Buckeyes, one of the nation's best wrestling schools, contacted Poullas at one point and invited him to campus. He obliged and watched a couple different practices during his stay in Columbus. It was a great experience, and while the Buckeyes never made an official offer, they and other major Division I schools did show interest.
Cleveland State was still his choice.
"I wanted to go to Ohio State really bad," Poullas said. "That was my dream school for a while, but Cleveland State just seemed like a good fit for me."
He, his family and the Canfield coaching staff came to that conclusion after a long process of evaluating different schools and realizing which one best fit Poullas' needs. The most important factors weren't about wrestling.
A rather short drive keeps Poullas close to his family but far enough away from Canfield that he will learn what it takes to live on his own. Poullas wants to study something in the medical field, and the Cleveland Clinic is one of the best hospitals in the country. But maybe the biggest component was the coaches at CSU, which sought out Poullas early on in his high school career.
Assistant coach Josh Moore was the recruiting coordinator for Poullas. Moore is a former Penn State All-American who coached at Kent State for 11 years before coming to the Vikings last season. His impact on Poullas was critical.
"The coaches seem like good people, and that's a an important thing," Poullas said. "Some college coaches aren't always going to be the best coaches and good people, and (at Cleveland State) I just had a feel that they're good people. Josh Moore is one of their assistant coaches, and he's a great guy. He actually wrestled at Penn State - they're tops in the nation for college - and I'm pretty sure he set almost every one of their records."
Poullas is doing the same at Canfield. He already broke the all-time wins record of 145, which was just set last year by Jacob Esarco.
The 160-pound Poullas won what is widely regarded as the toughest high school tournament in the nation, the Ironman Tournament at Walsh Jesuit High School back in December 2016.
That kind of clout probably could have lured a few more schools his way, but once he signed with Cleveland State in early December, Poullas closed his recruiting.
"When he signed early, he removed all of that," said Canfield coach Dean Conley of other schools trying to lure Poullas. "That was one of the reasons we wanted to do it. If we went through our due diligence and the process, and we kept coming up with Cleveland State as the best fit for Georgio, then why complicate things in the middle of the season and take focus away from him wanting to be a two-time state champion? So, when he signed early, he was off the board."
Poullas' focus will intensify this week, with the state tournament in Columbus.
There's a good chance Cleveland State will be keeping a close eye on his progress, as they have since he was a freshman.
"Cleveland State saw him and knew what his potential was," said Conley, who added that a few schools backed off after Poullas took sixth at the state tournament as a sophomore when the young prodigy was hoping for a championship. "They got a chance to see him wrestle in the offseason, so I think they really knew what his potential was, and I think that meant a lot to Georgio that, 'Hey, they believed in me when everybody else was unsure.'
"I can say this, they're getting a fantastic wrestler, who really has room to grow."