Just about every coach and observer who handicapped the field at the Division I district wrestling tournament at North Canton Hoover had the same impression.

The Hoover district was going to be one the toughest districts in recent memory.

In that hostile environment, Cuyahoga Falls wrestling took its lumps.

Falls saw its season end March 4 at districts as the Black Tigers did not have any wrestlers finish on the podium. The top four finishers in each weight class at districts advanced to states.

In the team race, Falls finished 36th with two team points. Wadsworth won the district team title with 193.5 points.

Falls coach Jason Lara noted Hoover was every bit as tough as advertised, but that his team's struggles had nothing to do with effort.

"There was a couple things I was disappointed with. With some of the kids, it was up to the draw," Lara said. "There were some matches happening where I couldn't believe the results. It was exciting to watch. It was what I expected."

Lara said he felt that junior 220-pounder Caleb Puchajda might have had a chance to advance.

Puchajda scored Falls' lone victory at districts, beating Dover's Riley Warner 5-3 in the opening round.

However, Puchajda then lost a 12-4 major decision to Cleveland St. Ignatius' Aidan Gill in the quarterfinals. He was then eliminated by an 11-5 loss to Akron Ellet's Marqus Young.

"The quarterfinal match was critical for Caleb," Lara said. "He wrestled a good first match and he wrestled hard against the Ellet kid. Caleb's got some things to work on, but he's getting there. He was a small 220 this year."

Senior 138-pounder Riley Eastman got hit with a tough draw, as he was pinned in his opening match in 1:03 by Austintown-Fitch's Andrew Fairbanks.

Eastman fared better in his second match, but was eliminated by an 11-9 loss to Garfield Heights' Josh Riley.

"Riley was up a weight class all season," Lara said. "I think if he would have been able to get down to 138 sooner, it would have helped him. You would love to see a senior make it to the state tournament, but you're not mad when he doesn't. He wrestled his heart out that weekend."

Lara noted previously the fact freshman 113-pounder Charles Lyons reached districts in only his second year of wrestling was a major accomplishment.

However, Lyons' draw did him no favors at North Canton. He faced Solon's Joey Hirsch in the first round and lost 7-0. Lyons was then eliminated by Shaker Heights' Jaivon James, who pinned him in 2:15.

"I think it was very important for Charles to get that experience at districts," Lara said. "Now he knows what he needs to do to get to the next level. He's just a tremendous worker and an athletic kid. As soon as he starts putting this stuff together, he's going to be a great wrestler."

While the season is over, Lara is very positive about the future of Falls wrestling.

"We're stepping in the right direction," Lara said. "With the young group of kids we have, in a few years, we're going to be a very competitive team."

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