COPLEY — The team race at the Suburban League Wrestling Tournament may have had a familiar feel with Brecksville-Broadview Heights winning and Wadsworth finishing second.
However, it wasn’t necessary to wear red to walk away from the mats Saturday with a smile.
Aurora, which finished third overall with 343 points, maintained its grip on the American Conference title.
Hudson placed 11th with 128 points at the 15-team competition, which took place at Copley High School.
Explorers coach Joe Caniglia noted the tournament was "character building" for his team, given the amount of strength in the conference.
"It’s crazy. We’re definitely getting great competition here," Caniglia said. "You’ve got four or five kids that our state level in every weight class."
This is just O’Connell second year on the mats. Nevertheless, the talented senior, who is also excels at football and rugby, showed that he has a bit of a secret weapon: conditioning.
O’Connell said the plan was simply to use his athletic assets in the title match with Revere’s Cody Luther.
"Just wrestle my match, play to my strengths and don’t let him get on top," O’Connell said.
O’Connell did just that, tying the match in the third period before turning Luther and getting the pin in 4 minutes, 50 seconds to take the championship.
"He’s super athletic, especially at this level," Hudson head coach Joe Caniglia said. "He gets so many wins just by making the other guys work."
Also faring well for the Explorers were Gavin Wervey (fourth, 145 pounds), Brendan Demuynck (fourth, 195) and Aidan McStay (seventh, 160).
"This is all about getting experience," Caniglia said. "Against kids as powerful as this, it’s not about wins and losses. If you can win in one position against good kids, you’ve done well. I like that this is so tough. It makes us better moving forward."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO.