Staff report

Four Western Reserve Academy wrestlers earned medals at the 44th annual Hawken International Tournament, which concluded Dec. 7 in Gates Mills.

The Pioneers finished 10th out of 16 teams with 67.5 points.

Massillon Perry won the competition with a total of 213 points.

Independence (207) and Hawken (139) took second and third, respectively.

Senior Robert Head and junior Trevor Grode finished third at 195 and 182 pounds, respectively. Sophomore Nick Farrell (138) placed fifth and sophomore Billy Walsh (132) finished sixth.

"We have an interesting dynamic this season because we graduated five varsity wrestlers and nearly doubled our numbers with a lot of new wrestlers," Reserve head coach Dave Farrell said.

Senior captains Spencer Chlebina and Robert Head and the other returning wrestlers "have shown exemplary leadership by bringing these new guys into the fold," Dave Farrell said. The squad has grown from 14 members last season to 24 this season.

"Our program is still rebuilding, but we're heading in the right direction," Dave Farrell said.

Highlights from the tournament include three pins from Head, including a headlock throw at 39 seconds in his fourth bout.

"I saw that he wanted to stand up with me, so I got my arms around him and when I was able to throw him to the mat," Head said. "I cranked down hard and got my win."

Newcomer Trevor Grode pinned opponents in his second and third bouts and won 13-12 in a hard-fought battle against Joe Ule of Newbury. He got third when he scored an 11-1 major decision against Perry's Angel Moron-Villarreal.

"Wrestling in the HIT tournament gave me a really good feel for the competition around here," Grode said. "There are definitely some tough guys, but I think with the way we are working as a team this season, the rest of our schedule should be packed with wins for everyone."

Nick Farrell also had three pins as well as a technical fall (16-0) before falling to third-seeded Perry senior Justin Burns.

"The most challenging aspect of the tournament was wrestling in a heavier weight class and facing stronger wrestlers than I faced last year at 126," Nick Farrell said.

"However, the most memorable moment of the tournament was seeing my team come together to watch teammates wrestle even if they were finished for the day. It was really great to have that kind of support from my team and really makes us a family."

Walsh pinned fellow sophomore Liam Kilbane of Cleveland Benedictine with four seconds left in the second period after a flurry of reversals that ended with Walsh on top.

"In the first five seconds, I knew he was a better wrestler than me," Walsh said. "So it was no surprise he took me down and started working to score back points. I could feel he was riding me high, so I took a chance and was able to pull him down over me and pinned him.

"There were some great wrestlers at the tournament and to be a finalist among them is a huge honor."

WRA was scheduled to compete in the Cleveland Central Catholic Invitational Dec. 14. Results were not available at press time.

The Pioneers are set to return to Gates Mills for the Hawken Duals Jan. 11. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.


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