Cuyahoga Falls wrestling coach Jason Lara has been steadfast in his belief his team will get better if it keeps working hard.
The problem for Lara was that scant evidence of that belief was forthcoming -- until this past week.
Hosting a tri-meet in the Suburban League National Conference Jan. 19, Falls made his history by getting its first two National Conference victories.
The Black Tigers defeated Nordonia 54-15 and then edged arch rival Stow-Munroe Falls 35-33.
"The kids were really pumped up for the match," Lara said. "They worked hard to get those wins. It's been nice. The kids can actually see now what I've been preaching: That if you keep working hard and keep working hard, you will get better.
"It's nice to have the full lineup as well," Lara said. "We were missing a couple of starters last week, but we had some kids step up really well."
Falls then continued its good run with a dominant 72-12 win over Akron Buchtel Jan. 24.
On Jan. 25, Falls travelled to Wooster to participate in opening night of the Division I state dual meet tournament. Given the No. 7 seed in the Sub-Region 4-A bracket, Falls opened the evening with a win over Wooster 52-18.
"It was our first state duals' win," Lara said. "The kids were excited about that."
However, Falls was unable to reach the regional tournament, as it lost 49-21 to third-seeded Akron Ellet in the nightcap Jan. 25.
Lara said Falls did what it needed to beat the Generals.
"It was a lot better dual meet than the score indicated," Lara said. "We just happened to win those close matches against Wooster."
The Black Tigers saw 126-pounder Joe Rix pin Joe Witkunis in 51 seconds, 170-pounder Tim Berg pin Jacob Markul in 4:41 and 220-pounder Caleb Puchajda pin Brenden Holiday in 4:21.
Decision wins came from 106-pounder Billie Ferrell, 138-pounder Austin Rohrer, 145-pounder Riley Eastman and 160-pounder Jacob Sage.
Falls also got forfeit wins from 113-pounder Charlie Lyons, 182-pounder Jospeh Parianos and 195-pounder Damien Fleming.
"In the second match against Ellet, we had three close matches, which cost us," Lara said.
Against Ellet, Lyons scored a pin in 1:24 over Cameron Cosavage and East scored a 13-7 decision over Robbie Lord. Falls also got forfeit wins from Puchajda and heavyweight Oscar Figueroa.
"We're finally coming along," Lara said.
Falls was set to travel south to Licking County to the Utica Invitational Jan. 27 and 28, but results were not available at press time.
The Suburban League Tournament will take place Feb. 4 at Aurora. First match is set for 9 a.m.