HUDSON — It says something about the strength of a team when it’s able compete well without its star athlete.
Such was the case for Stow-Munroe Falls wrestling Saturday at the 53rd annual Hudson Holiday Tournament. The Bulldogs were without All-Ohioan Dan Patten, who had to sit the tournament out due to having wrestled the previous week at the Walsh Ironman.
Thus, the fact Stow nearly took a runner-up spot at Hudson was no small feat. The Bulldogs finished third at Hudson with 180.5 points, just a half-point behind North Royalton in second. Maple Heights won the team title with 211.5 points.
Hudson finished sixth on its home mats with 145.5 points, while Woodridge finished seventh (124) and Tallmadge was ninth (96).
"It’s almost exciting for us to show what we can do without [Patten]," said Stow coach Tyler Buckwalter. "He’s definitely our leader, but we’re showing that we’re building a total team.
"I think overall we’re pretty pleased with how we wrestled, " he added. "We had some tough draws in the semifinals and we had some matches that we should have won."
It was a team effort from the Bulldogs, who finished with eight placers at Hudson. However, after leading the tournament on day one, Stow went 1-5 in the semifinal round, costing it a chance at the title.
Stow’s lone wrestler in the finals turned out to be freshman 106-pounder Chase Mygrants. Mygrants was pinned in the 106-pound final in 2:46 by Mayfield’s Vinnie D’Alessandro.
The Bulldogs got third-place finishes from 132-pounder Vince Randall, 145-pounder J.R. Reed and 170-pounder Ty Bukowski, whom Buckwalter praised for his effort.
Stow was denied second place when North Royalton 220-pounder Lazar Gesic won his weight class with a 13-3 major decision. Gesic was named most valuable wrestler for the tournament.
There was no denying Hudson junior 195-pounder Brenden Demuynck, who scored the first tournament win of his career.
In the 195-pound final, Demuynck was in a fight with Tallmadge’s Nate Amato until a reversal in the second period gave Demuynck a 2-0 lead and injured Amato’s shoulder.
Demuynck pancaked Amato early in the third period and scored the pin in 4:26.
"It’s amazing," Demuynck said. "I listened to what my coaches were saying and just tried to wrestle my match."
"That was a good win for [Demuynck]," said Hudson coach Joe Caniglia. "He getting more conditioned and he was able to wrestle the way he wanted. We knew there were times when we were going to speed up and slow down in that match."
Demuynck was Hudson’s lone finalist, but the Explorers put six wrestlers on the podium, including fourth-place finishes from 126-pounder Matt Hartle, 145-pounder Gavin Wervey, 160-pounder Aidan McStay and heavyweight Garrett O’Connell.
"I think we’re getting better," Caniglia said. "The conditioning is getting better and the effort is definitely there. With a lot of our losses, the thing I said to them was ‘You got out-horsepowered.’ That’s something that happens with a young team."
Maple Heights won the tournament thanks to going 5-1 in the semifinal round. However, the Mustangs only finished with a one weight class champion in 120-pounder Kolin Howard.
Howard won his title at 120 with a 15-3 major decision over Woodridge’s lone finalist: Junior Nate Demangeont.
Despite Demangeont’s loss, Woodridge coach Mike Massey was ecstatic with his team’s effort as the Bulldogs finished with six placers.
"I’m not at all disappointed," Massey said. "We’re sitting here at six or seventh place, surrounded by Division I schools. Nothing we’re doing is flashy. We’re just out there brawling.
"If you would have told me we’d finish in seventh place here with this young team, I’d say you were nuts."
Woodridge also got a third-place finish from 138-pounder Luke Radwany.
Tallmadge only brought seven wrestlers to Hudson but three of them ended up on the podium.
Along with Amato, Tallmadge 182-pounder Jesse Kanatzar reached the final at Hudson, despite being very ill on Saturday. Kanatzar was able to hang on to beat Maple’s Billy Flynn 5-4 to win the 182-pound title.
"I wasn’t really feeling good all day," Kanatzar said. "I just had to fight through. It’s very difficult to wrestle this way, but you have to fight through adversity.
Tallmadge also got a third-place finish from 220-pounder Ben Blankenship.
"We expected those three guys to be in the finals. We got two," said Tallmadge coach Jason Shaw. "I think our whole team experienced a lot of good matches, which is what we need."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO