GARFIELD HEIGHTS — Getting to the state tournament is the dream of every high school wrestler.
For 10 Portage County wrestlers at the Division III district tournament at Garfield Heights, achieving that dream is just one win away.
After day one at Garfield Heights, Rootstown sits second in the team race with 60 points, just a half point behind Tuslaw for the lead. The Rovers had five of their eight district qualifiers advance to the Saturday’s semifinals.
Crestwood sits ninth with 29.5 points, while Mogadore is tied for 15th with 24 points. Both the Wildcats and Red Devils advanced two wrestlers to the semifinals, while James A Garfield advanced one. Garfield sits 23rd with 17 points, while Waterloo is tied for 35th place with eight points.
Rovers coach Craig Wise noted his team has not had the perfect postseason, as an outbreak of shoulder injuries has hurt his team.
"It’s the year of the shoulder," Wise said. "We’ve been fighting through as best we can. Our guys are fighting through."
Rootstown’s returning state placers — Caleb Edwards (113 pounds), Niko Chilson (138), Chris Langguth (182) and Ryan Boyle (195) — all advanced to the semifinals, as did Rover 132-pounder Trent Duvall, who pinned Dalton’s Tate Geiser in 2:23 to advance.
"We’ve been battling a lot of injuries," Langguth said. "Coach tells us you can back off or you can continue to fight through. We’ve all been talking about winning state championships."
Langguth will be part of an all-Portage County semifinal Saturday, as he will face Mogadore 182-pounder Tyler Knight, who defeated Grand Valley’s Zach Hazlett 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
Wildcat 152-pounder Nick Skye won his quarterfinal 13-4 to advance.
After winning its first sectional title in school history last week, Mogadore had a rough time even before Friday. Wildcat 106-pounder Brady Funk and 170-pounder Devon Pritts each were ruled out due to to injury and then Mogadore went 3-5 in its first-round matches.
"It’s the competition level here that hurt us," said Mogadore coach Duane Funk. "This is the Garfield Heights district. You get out of here, you’ve got a good chance to get on the podium at state."
Crestwood’s "igniters" also each reached the semifinal round. Red Devil 106-pounder Brett Szuhay scored two pins on his was the semifinals, while 113-pounder Dominic Savoca beat Mapleton’s Hunter Frederick 9-1 in the quarterfinals.
Crestwood went 5-2 in the first round and will have 120-pounder Jacob Ondash, 138-pounder Aiden Morganstern and 160-pounder Dalton Tyrrell alive in the consolations bracket.
"Mission accomplished is to get through here and go for a state championship," Szuhay said. "I’m happy for everyone that we’re wrestling so well. It would be great to get more than one guy down there."
Having not escaped sectionals last year, Garfield 220-pounder Noah Hoffman reached the semifinals in dramatic fashion.
After seeing Waynedale’s Ben Wilkinson rally to tie their quarterfinal match 4-4, Hoffman went behind Wilkinson to win 6-4 in the sudden victory period.
"I didn’t take the best shots," Hoffman said. "I just gassed in the second period because I was trying to control him in the first. It’s an amazing feeling to be here. I put in a lot of work this season."
Garfield had a solid first day, going 4-1 in the first-round matches.
"I’m sure nobody saw that coming," said G-Men coach Jason Roborecki. "We had some low seeds come up and win."
It was a tough day for Waterloo as only 160-pounder Logan Robinson won in the first round. Robinson was pinned in the quarterfinals.
Robinson, 120-pounder Deegan Foster and 182-pounder Hayden Youngblood remain alive in the consolation bracket for Waterloo.
"We’re still in it," said Vikings coach Brian Youngblood. "We’ve got to come back and keep battling. A lot of this is nerves for the kids. Logan wasn’t here last year."