After heading into the new year with an improbable 9-4 record in dual meets, the very new, if not young, Harmon wrestling team kept on winning to finish with an 18-6 team record on the season.
Half the team comprised first-year wrestlers who kept gaining on the competition all season long. Every single one of those athletes of the eventual 20-member squad saw starting time and contributed to the team’s success.
Only five members of the squad will return as eighth-grade performers next season. Harmon is sending 15 eighth-grade wrestler to the high-school level.
Assistant coaches Aaron Tschudy and Mike DeMay ran a number of practices during the winter break in the high school wrestling room that about half the squad’s members were able to attend.
Head coach Paul Frankmann and a number of wrestlers were out of town, so getting back in action the week of January 7 required a crash course of conditioning and drilling.
Tschudy had tested the team before the break with its performance on a CrossFit-style fitness test with the idea that testing them after the break could determine which team members had stayed active on their own.
The results showed that all of them did. Every single member of the team beat their previous times on the test. That foreshadowed continued success.
On January 9, the team opened the new year by earned a convincing 70-18 victory at Tallmadge before falling to a powerful Stow team, 54-24.
Stow had a solid lineup of veterans wrestling at the first 10 weight classes who matched up mostly against Harmon’s first-year wrestlers.
The following day, the team joined in a non-scored event in Pepper Pike against Orange, Bainbridge Township Kenston and Newbury — all schools from the old Chagrin Valley conference.
All wrestlers were matched up to get at least two matches, barring injury, and all Harmon wrestlers came away with at least one win.
On Jan. 12, Harmon’s first-year wrestlers participated in the B Great event at Chardon Middle School. Because so many first-year wrestlers were starting for Harmon, this was the first time for many of them to wrestle against other new wrestlers.
Stellar performances were put in by Mikah Snitzer, who finished 4-0 at 80 pounds and Tommy Ploskunak, who went 3-1 at 92 pounds, which included a win over a wrestler who later placed in a tournament at Twinsburg.
Devon Bodine went 3-0 at 104 pounds, Jacob Cici went 2-2 at 122 pounds, Andrew Eichenauer went 4-1 at 134 pounds and Carl Bartlett went 4-0 at 160 pounds. Logan Thomas also won two matches.
On Jan. 16, Harmon, returned to Hudson to wrestle Twinsburg in a Suburban League event. Harmon beat Twinsburg 57-33 and Hudson 66-21.
Jaedon Keba added to those points with a pin at 172 pounds.
Harmon welcomed back Ben Iammarino (160), who had been out since December with a broken toe and Austin Grossman, a 110-pound seventh-grade wrestler and Junior Aurora Wrestling veteran to the team. Grossman returned after being out of the lineup due to a neck injury.
Grossman made his debut at the Streetsboro Duals, a new event on the Harmon schedule. Harmon won the overall title with victories over Tallmadge, Kent, Brooklyn, Chardon Notre Dame and Streetsboro.
Harmon dominated the upper weights to defeat Streetsboro 39-21 in perhaps, its most entertaining match of the season.
During the last full week of the season, Harmon competed in the 37-team Twinsburg Tournament.
The team had, perhaps, its best performance of the season by tripling its team point total from last season. Harmon finished 16th with 87 points.
The four Harmon wrestlers who placed were Jackson Swanner, who finished sixth (142), Mate Orgovan placed eighth (150), Quinn Gorman captured fourth (172) and Joey Arnold, took fourth (245).
Harmon’s final event of the season was a home match against Harmon, Willowick, Nordonia and Hudson.
Nordonia earned a 53-30 win, but Harmon defeated Willowick 60-24.
Capturing victories for Harmon were Ploskunak (92), Bryce Gibson (98) and Jacob Cici (122), who ended his season with a pin.
During its awards ceremony, the slogan was, "Harmon Wrestling: Proof that Wrestling is a Team Sport."
The team earned 259 individual wins, 257 takedowns, 94 escapes, 61 reversals, 128 near falls, 24 decisions, 10 major decisions, three technical falls, 132 pins and 1.264 team points.
Nine wrestlers joined the 100-point club for exceeding that number of points earned for the team in one season: Marcus Perez, Connor Tschudy, Armen Perez, Snitzer, Swanner, Bartlett, Arnold, Gorman and Mate Orgovan.
Four wrestlers broke into the 200-point club for their contributions over 2 seasons: Armen Perez, Orgovan, Gorman and Arnold. Orgovan was given the award for Most Valuable Wrestler and Ploskunak earned the most improved award.
Marcus Perez, Orgovan and Swanner received captain’s bars for their leadership. Connor Tschudy also earned a captain’s bar for his quiet leadership by example.
The Bubba Arslanian award for being a Harmon multi-sport athlete went to Bartlett. The Coach Costa award for being a key team player was earned by Iammarino, who suffered another injury that kept him out for much of the latter portion of the season. The Paulie McGhee sportsmanship award was presented to Gorman.
Four wrestlers competed in Ohio Athletic Conference district tournaments. They were Gorman, Isaac Lee, Connor Tschudy and Bartlett.
Gorman finished third and is scheduled to compete at the junior high state tournament March 15 and 16 in Youngstown.
A number of wrestlers are participating in the postseason Fire Club that runs Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-7:30 in the Aurora Wrestling room through early April. These sessions are open to area youth and middle school wrestlers and are being run by Aurora High School assistant coach Josh Decatur.