COPLEY — It was pounding week for Aurora wrestling.
Fresh off its fourth-place finish Monday at the Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament, the Greenmen faced another big challenge when they wrestled at the Suburban League Tournament Saturday at Copley.
It ended up being an up-and-down day for Aurora, which finished third overall with 343 points, which was more than enough to win the American Conference title. Medina Highland finished well behind Aurora with 222 points.
However, the Greenmen had dreams of winning the tournament outright, especially after it held the lead after the three-round section. Aurora had 11 wrestlers win their respective pools.
The Greenmen went just 4-7 in semifinal matches and then had only 160-pounder Dylan Fishback win his weight class
That contributed to Brecksville-Broadview Heights running away with the team title with 423.5 points. Wadsworth finished second with 359 points.
Acknowledging his team was banged up physically, coach Johnny Papesh was far from satisfied.
"It’s tough having Brecksville on a Sunday-Monday and then this on a Saturday," Papesh said. "The kids that we’re 50/50 with right now, we should be 100 percent up on. We say they’re amazing kids we face, but they’re just kids. I don’t know why we fizzled out this afternoon."
"We’ve got two months to be the best Aurora we can be," he added.
Fishback’s path to the title was dramatic. In the semifinals, Fishback was pushed hard by Wadsworth’s Logan Messer before he scored the decisive takedown in sudden victory to win 7-5.
Fishback was in even more danger in the first period against Highland’s Brady Linder, as Linder put Fishback on his back and nearly pinned him.
"That was on the few times I’ve ever gone to my back," Fishback said. "I was trying for a cow catcher and was on my knees, he just ran me over."
Down 9-4 heading into the final period, Fishback got three takedowns and tilted Linder onto his back to pull out a come-from-behind 14-11 win.
"I was focused on scoring one point at a time," Fishback said.
"Champions do what they need to win," Papesh said. "It was pretty special and he’s a kid."
Aurora has two other sophomores reach the finals. At 138 pounds, Nic Willingham pinned Wadsworth’s David Shue in 1:22 to reach the final, but then lost a tight 4-0 decision to Brecksville’s James Bronstrup in the title match.
At 195 pounds, Evan Anderson reached the final with a 5-2 decision over Hudson’s Brendan Demuynck, but was overpowered in the title match be Brecksville’s Ben Vanadia, as he lost an 18-8 major decision.
Aurora also had senior 145-pounder David Cumberledge reach the title match wit ha pin in 1:28 over Hudson’s Gavin Wervey. However, Cumberledge was so banged up, Papesh chose to forfeit his title match, rather than have him face nationally ranked Victor Voinovich of Brecksville.
"We have got to get healthy," Papesh said.
Aurora 152-pounder Ty Lillard may have been involved in the best match of the tournament in his semifinal with Stow-Munroe Falls’ Dan Patten.
The match went to the tie-breaker round tied at 2-2, where Patten was able to maintain an anaconda-like grip on Lillard before escaping to win 3-2.
"He needs to wrestle matches like that," Papesh said. "He’ll learn from it."
Lillard rebounded to take third-place with a 15-5 win over Barberton’s Channing Valencia.
Aurora also got third-place finishes from 106-pounder Codie Cuerbo, 113-pounder Rob Sagaris, 120-pounder Antwan Sagaris and 126-pounder Bo DiJulius.
The Greenmen had 132-pounder Brian Kennedy and 170-pounder Ethan Anderson take fourth, though Anderson forfeited his third-place match.
Prior to the league tournament, Aurora fourth with 142.5 points at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, which concluded Monday at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
Detroit Catholic Central won the 48-team competition with 247 ½ points and the host Bees (237) and Elyria (170) placed second and third, respectively.
Fishback was the Greenmen’s lone champion. He won the 160-pound title after earning a 5-1 decision over Detroit Catholic Central’s Derek Gilcher, a two-time state champion. Fishback finished 6-0 with a pin and two technical falls.
Aurora, which did not compete in a handful of the heavier weight classes, also had two bronze medalists.
Cuerbo finished third after winning five matches at 106 pounds. He earned four falls and lost to Davison, Michigan’s Caden Horvath by fall in the title match. Cuerbo pinned Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Anthony Perez in 3:23 in the consolation final.
Lillard finished 4-1 with a pin to place third at 152 pounds. He earned a 3-1 win over Dundee’s Stoney Buell in the consolation final. Lillard lost a tense 1-0 decision to Tiffin’s Brody Conley in the semifinals.
DiJulius won three matches, including a pin, to finish fourth 126 pounds. He lost a decision to Perrysburg’s Joey Blaze in the consolation final.
DiJulius also lost a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to Dundee, Michigan’s Aiden Davis in the semifinals.
Cumberledge placed fifth with three pins after winning three matches at 145 pounds. He pinned Detroit Central Catholic’s Mark Shaeffer in 2:08 to claim fifth.
Ethan Anderson won three matches, including a pin and a technical fall at 170 pounds. Robbie Sagaris and Antwan Sagaris each won two matches.
Papesh noted his team was running at "about 75 percent" health-wise, which was the reason for him deciding to cancel Aurora’s tri-meet with Wadsworth and Highland this Thursday.
"I’m probably going to give these guys the day off Monday," Papesh said. "We’ll probably just be playing games."