HUDSON — When it comes to wrestling in the Suburban League National Conference, it’s a two-team race between Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Wadsworth.
It’s also safe to say Nordonia has the upper hand against most of the competition as well.
So what’s the situation like for the rest of the conference?
"It’s a toss-up," Hudson head coach Joe Caniglia said.
Fortunately for the longtime Explorers’ leader, his team won one of those "toss-ups" to get back even in the conference standings.
Host Hudson improved to 3-3 in the National Conference after scoring a hard-fought 37-26 victory over Twinsburg Thursday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Explorers trailed 21-10 at one point, but they took control of the upper weights to prevail against an understrength Tigers’ squad.
"I thought our kids wrestled pretty well," Caniglia said. "We’re getting better; we’re showing signs of improvement on the things that we’re working on in practice. I thought our defense was much improved in terms of counters and shots.
"I thought our conditioning looked pretty good. Kids are buying in and believing in what we’re doing in practice and taking those drills into the matches."
Twinsburg (0-6), which has produced many state placers during longtime head coach Dave Mariola’s tenure, was snakebitten by its lack of depth.
The Tigers lost 12 points on a pair of forfeits and also had several wrestlers move up a weight class or two.
"We put kids in that probably shouldn’t have been in the lineup," Mariola said. "They’re just not ready for varsity. We moved everybody up. We got beat, but we won seven matches."
At one point, Twinsburg won five matches in a row to put pressure on the Explorers, who have a long layoff after Thursday’s match.
The Tigers got a 21-4 technical fall from Connor Voltz over freshman Ben Romano at 126 pounds, an 11-0 major decision from Gabriel Forstner (152) over Ethan Forrest and decision wins by Mike Magyar (8-2 at 132) against Michael Mileski, Jacob Flask against Aidan McStay (5-2 at 138) and Jack Turle (6-2 at 145) against Gavin Wervey.
Twinsburg’s other victories came from Rick DiTurno, who earned a hard-fought 11-9 win over Matt Hartle at 113, and Aidan Corrigan, who scored the Tigers’ lone pin (40 seconds) against Jacob Peters at 182.
Despite those defeats, Caniglia was encouraged by the performances.
"Ben was against one of their better kids," he said. "He was fighting the whole time, fighting to stay off his back, saving us points. It was a great effort.
"That was the same kid he got pinned by earlier in the year. He had a chance to win it. It went right down to the ropes. He has a great motor on him, which is really going to help him down the road.
"Corrigan is their best wrestler. Peters didn’t back down from him. He ended up getting caught on his back. He got into a 50-50 where if he ends up with position, he can score. Jacob has been coming along and putting a lot of effort in practice."
The junior class is what makes the team go, according to Mariola. The longtime Tigers’ coach was pleased to see his talented junior quartet of DiTurno, Magyar, Flask and Turle prevail in the same room on the same evening.
"We’re mostly made up of juniors," Mariola said. "They have not been winning together, but they won (Thursday)."
Hudson triumphed in five of the last six matches.
The momentum switch began when John Sweet earned a 6-0 win over Austin Cefaratti at 160.
"I thought John wrestled a great match against Cef, who is one of their better wrestlers," Caniglia said. "He breaks even with him on his feet in the first period, turns him twice in the second period and got some back points and rides him out in the third period to finish the match."
The Explorers closed it out with a pair of forfeit wins from freshman Spencer Warman (195) and Garrett O’Connell (heavyweight) and a pin by Shane McGinnis (220), who scored a pin (1:24) to improve to 16-6 this winter.
And, of course, Hudson also got a crucial six points from its top wrestler.
Michael Caniglia dominated his match against John DeLisio and wound up scoring the pin in 3:35. The younger Caniglia, who improved to 20-3 on the season, scored five takedowns before putting the match away.
The Explorers’ other wins came from Logan Morris, who posted a 10-2 major decision against Tommy Simecek at 106, and freshman Will Broadbeck, who made a stellar varsity debut by earning a pin (3:12) over Nick Cusma at 120.
"That was outstanding," Coach Caniglia said of Morris’ win. "He scored four takedowns and had a set of back points. That shows he’s opening up and becoming more aggressive.
"Will ended up getting two takedowns and ended up turning him and pinning him, which was outstanding."
Hudson is scheduled to wrestle again Jan 25 and 26 at the Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament at Austintown-Fitch High School.
"It’s a great event," Coach Caniglia said. "Every wrestler will get eight to 10 matches in. There’s great competition there. There are teams from all over Northeast Ohio.
"It’s a great challenge for us. It will get us into that tournament mindset of getting us ready for sectionals, districts and states."
Twinsburg is set to host the Tiger Duals Saturday before heading to the Shelby Duals Tournament Jan. 26.
"We just have to get back in the room," Mariola said. "I’m a little disappointed because we were winning a lot of matches early.
"We seemed to get tired out. I don’t know if it was because we were pressing early. We did get tired, which is not like us."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.