INDEPENDENCE — Northeast Ohio was the focus of high school wrestling this weekend as teams from around the country descended on the Ironman Tournament at Walsh Jesuit.
For coaches looking to compete at a less-elite level, however, the North Coast Classic at the Independence Fieldhouse Friday and Saturday provided plenty of opportunities for competition.
For Nordonia, Twinsburg, Hudson and a split squad from Aurora, the NCC was a more appropriate place for the developing squads — and gave the teams some chances at glory.
Nordonia finished third at the pool-style NCC with 377 points, just three points behind runner-up Mentor. Berea-Midpark defended its title at the NCC with 534 points.
Hudson earned a top 10 finish, taking 10th place with 308 points, while Twinsburg was 12th with 256 points. Aurora was 27th in the 34-team field with 113 points.
Last year, a second-place finish at the NCC infuriated Nordonia coach Jason Walters so much that his team had a full practice after the tournament.
This year, Walters was in a better mood.
"The young guys are smoked. Sal and Jeremy did their jobs, but I can still see things with them we need to work on," Walters said. "Overall, with my team, I’m pleased, but I’m not satisfied."
"Jeremy and Sal" were the two Knights who won their respective weight classes: Freshman 132-pounder Jeremy Olszko and junior 182-pounder Sal Perrine.
In the hist first high school tournament, Olszko was unstoppable on his way to the final. After winning every pool match by pin, technical fall or forfeit, Olszko reached the 132-pound final by hitting a banana split on Berea-Midpark’s Ike DiVincenzo and pinning him in 1:17.
In the the final, Olszko fell behind early vs. Westlake’s Khalid Asker before rallying to tie the match at 4-4 early in the third period. Midway through the period, Olszko hit an underhook throw, put Asker on his back and pinned him in 4:53.
"He was really strong," Olszko said. "It was giving me all kinds of trouble. It was just the conditioning that coach Walters gives that helped me. I think that kid was out of shape."
Perrine dominated his pool at 182 and then scored an 11-4 win over Bay’s Mason Cover in the semifinal.
In the 182-pound final, Perrine tangled with Tallmadge’s Jesse Kanatzar. The match turned into a takedown clinic for Perrine, who scored seven takedowns on his way to a 16-7 win.
Perrine was named upperweight MVP of the tournament.
"Sal will wear you out," Walters said.
"When I’m confident, I feel like I can take anyone down," Perrine said. "I tried to stay on my feet. He’s a long, lanky kid."
Nordonia had 145-pounder Tyler Agnus finish fourth and 106-pounder Nick Hamed take sixth.
The Knights also had 126-pounder Trevor Stautithar and 138-pounder Zach Fry take first in "B" bracket.
While Hudson did not have any wrestlers reach the title match, Explorers coach Joe Caniglia was happy with what he saw.
"I thought about a big improvement from week one to week two," Canglia said. "We’ve still got work to do, of course, but the guys showed a lot. I think the five guys we got on the podium here was the most we’ve ever had."
Hudson’s lone pool winner was junior 195-pounder Brandon Demuynck. Demuynck stumbled in the semifinal, losing an 11-5 decision to Berea-Midpark’s Zach Porch, but rebounded with a pin in 3:25 over Tri-Valley’s Andy Hill.
In the third-place match, however, Demuynck was unable to get his offense going, as he lost a 4-0 decision to Westlake’s Paul Tracey.
Hudson also had 145-pounder Gavin Wervey reach the third-place match via the consolation bracket, as Wervey scored pins of Westlake’s Aiden Ashburn in 1:58 and Lutheran West’s Khalid Morales in three minutes.
In his third-place match, Wervey fought off his back twice before reversing Angus onto his back and getting the pin at 3:21.
Hudson heavyweight Garrett O’Connell got an overtime pin to take fifth place, while 126-pounder Matt Hartle, 160-pounder Aidan McStay each took sixth.
Twinsburg coach Dave Mariola said his team also took a big step forward from week one.
"I think we had a really great day yesterday," Mariola said. "We had 26 pins. Today, things got harder the more we progressed, but we still did fine. We’ve got to get guys healthy and into their correct weights.
"I think we look a whole lot better than we did last week. I’m not quite sure why we struggled last week."
Tiger junior 170-pounder Aidan Corrigan looked to record two straight titles at the NCC. For the second straight week, Corrigan reached the final.
After dominating this pool, Corrigan pulled out a tight 3-2 win over Revere’s Zayne Lehman in the semifinal.
It was deja vu for Corrigan in the final, as the lost a one-point match for the second straight week, this time to Brunswick’s Kevin Kiussis. The match ended in controversy as Corrigan hit a double leg on Kiussis and had the crowd screaming "Two!" at the buzzer.
However, the officials did not give the takedown, which gave Kiussis a 5-4 win and the title.
Mariola called it "a terrible call."
Twinsburg also saw senior 152-pounder Jack Turle reach the third-place match via the consolation bracket, as he pinned Normandy’s Lucas Burger in 4:58 and beat Independence’s Jimmy Senick 7-4.
In his third-place match, Turle was dominant, getting four takedowns on his way to a 9-1 win over Perry’s Ethan Hicks.
Twinsburg also had 113-pounder Ricky DiTurno finish sixth, 132-pounder Carter Johnston finish seventh and 220-pounder Tyson Jacobs finish eighth.
With most of its starters competing at the Walsh Ironman Tournament, Aurora’s young guns endured a bit of a rough weekend at the NCC.
Aurora’s lone placers at the NCC were 120-pounder Kyle Bizjak, who finished seventh, and 132-pounder Kaden McGowan, who took eighth place.
The rugged field at the Ironman took its told on Aurora as well, as only one Greeman remained alive after day of the tournament.
However, Aurora’s senior captain was able to reach the podium at the prestigious tournament, as senor Ehtna Anderson finished eighth. Anderson lost 15-1 to Bailey Flanagan of Lake Highland Prep in the seventh-place match.