The beginning of February has been historic for the Woodridge wrestling program.
In rapid succession, the Bulldogs earned their first trip to the Division II state dual team tournament and scored their first win at the Portage Trail Conference Tournament.
When seeds were announced at the state duals, Woodridge knew it was coming in as an underdog. The Bulldogs were given the No. 7 seed in Division II, meaning they would face defending Division II state runner-up Wauseon in the quarterfinal round.
No one could claim the Bulldogs were coming into the tournament overly anxious. On Feb. 9, one of the Bulldogs' final "training sessions" saw the entire team bowling.
Woodridge was still loose when it entered St. John Arena Feb. 12 for the duals, as the team had plenty of smiles on their faces.
When Woodridge walked out of the duals a couple hours later, the smiles were still there -- even if the result wasn't what they wanted.
Woodridge was eliminated in the quarterfinals with a 57-10 loss to Wauseon. It was the Bulldogs' first dual-meet loss of the season, as Woodridge finished 16-1.
Wauseon went on to repeat as Division II state runner-up Feb. 12. The Indians defeated Carrollton 34-30 in the semifinal round, but then lost in the state title match 48-9 to St. Paris Graham, which won its fifth straight title.
Despite the quick exit, Woodridge coach Mike Massey said the trip to state was "all positive" for the Bulldogs.
"It's a feather in the cap of our program to get here," Massey said. "I don't feel any differently about this team today than I did yesterday. We came in here against a very tough team. They've now got that experience under their belt.
"We told them 'You should want to be here next year,'" Massey added.
Wauseon coach Mike Ritter said his team's experience at the state meet was a big plus.
"Being here last year does help tremendously," Ritter said. "We didn't want to look past Woodridge. Looking past anybody gets you beat."
Woodridge ended up with wins in only three individual bouts against the Indians, who looked deserving of their No. 2 seed.
Wauseon opened with 106-pounder Gavin Ritter pinning Cambell Corfman in 54 seconds, followed by 113-pounder McKayla Campbell scoring a 13-4 major decision over Woodridge's Micah Blair. Campbell is nationally ranked in girls wrestling.
Woodridge then saw 120-pounder Brandon Reeves get thrown and pinned in 44 seconds by Nolan Ray.
"It's hard to dig out of that kind of hole," Massey said.
That left it to junior 126-pounder David Massey to get the Bulldogs on the board. He did so with a 10-3 win over Jarrett Bischoff.
"It's the same thing as it was last week against (Rootstown's) Nico (Chilson)," David Massey said. "I just had to go out with a clear mind and wrestle my match."
Coach Massey said he was a bit surprised to see Indians' state qualifier Hunter Yackee drop to 132 pounds. Yackee pinned Woodridge's David Genovese in 4:22.
Woodridge 138-pounder Eli Yoho then scored a 5-3 decision win.
Wauseon then put the match out of reach with three straight wins, as state runner-up Sandro Ramirez scored a 20-5 technical fall, 152-pounder Xavier Torres upset Isaac Yoho 3-2 and 160-pounder Andrew Bailey pinned Woodridge's Jake D'Avello in 1:57.
At 170 pounds, Spencer Robinson got Woodridge's only bonus points of the match, as he scored an 11-3 major decision over Trent Davis.
"We kind of fulfilled everyone's expectations this year," Robinson said. "It would be crazy to get back here next year. We're looking at getting it done."
Wauseon brought it home by winning the final four matches. Indians 182-pounder Aaron Harris (18 seconds), 195-pounder Tony Banister (1:27) and heavyweight Alex Sosa (4:56) each scored pins, while 220-pounder Sammy Sosa survived a back-and-forth match with Woodridge's Jack Kerlee to win 13-11.
Woodridge has almost two full weeks to prepare for the postseason, as the Bulldogs will open the Division II individual tournament Feb. 25 at the sectional tournament at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Woodridge will deal with Cleveland Benedictine, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Central Catholic, Crestwood, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Orange, Revere and Streetsboro at sectionals The top four finishers in each weight class at St. Vincent-St. Mary advance to the Division II district tournament March 3 and 4 at Alliance.