The Aurora wrestling team is headed back to the state dual team tournament.
However, it certainly wasn’t easy for the 2019 state runners-up.
The Greenmen captured the Division II, Region 11 title with a tense 32-31 victory over Mentor Lake Catholic Saturday at Perry High School.
Prior to the regional duals, Aurora hostedPainesville Riverside Thurdsay and routed the Beavers 68-9.
Aurora will carry a perfect dual meet record of 15-0 into the state duals.
Aurora coach Johnny Papesh said he knew getting past the Cougars was going to be struggle.
"I didn’t know what was going to happen," Papesh said. "I knew it was going to be a dogfight. I think we wanted it just a little bit more than they did.
"We’re a very good team and they’re a very good team," he added. "It’s pretty nice when you’ve got the third-ranked and fourth-ranked teams going at it. I kind of figured it would come down to us and Lake Catholic. We were just focused on ourselves.
Prior to its close win over the Cougars, who earned two wins by forfeit, Aurora cruised to victories over Chesterland West Geauga (58-18) in the quarterfinals and Chardon (56-16) in the semifinals.
"I expected us to be head and shoulders over the rest of the field," Papesh said.
The state tournament is scheduled to take place Feb. 16 at The Ohio State University’s St. John Arena in Columbus. The first session is set to begin at 11 a.m. and the second session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Against Lake Catholic, the Greenmen got pins from David Cumberledge at 145 pounds (1 minute, 4 seconds) and Dylan Fishback at 160 (3:54). Antwan Sagaris cruised to a 15-0 technical fall at 120 pounds.
Earning decision wins for Aurora were Codie Cuerbo (3-1 at 106), Bo DiJulius (21-14 at 126), Tyler Lillard (8-3 at 152), Ethan Anderson (7-0 at 170) and Evan Anderson (4-1 at 195).
Papesh said his lightweights’ wins were huge to start the match.
"Codie Cuerbo beat Brok Herman. Brock was ranked third in the state and Codie was ranked fourth, so that’s a good win," Papesh said. "Anthony Sagaris getting a 15-0 tech fall was a game changer. That was huge for us."
The Greenmen earned six pins and two major decisions against the Hilltoppers. They also earned one win by forfeit. Chardon earned one of its three victories by forfeit, as well.
Cuerbo (16 seconds at 106), Nic Willingham (39 seconds at 138), Cumberledge (1:05 at 145), Fishback (21 seconds at 160), Ethan Anderson (3:53 at 170) and Evan Anderson (55 seconds at 195) pinned their opponents. Antwan Sagaris (12-2 at 120) and Lillard (13-5 at 152) earned major decisions.
Other Aurora wins came from DiJulius (4-0 at 126) and Brian Kennedy (9-5 at 132).
The Greenmen got four pins, three technical falls and a major decision against the Wolverines. The two teams also had one forfeit apiece.
Aurora’s pins came from Robbie Sagaris (3:25 at 113), Antwan Sagaris (45 seconds at 120), Willingham (1:18 at 138), Cumberledge (19 seconds at 145) and Quinn Gorman (1:47 at 182).
Cuerbo (15-0 at 106) and Lillard (17-2) at 152) won their matches by technical fall and DiJulius earned a 10-1 major decision at 126 pounds.
The Greenmen’s other victory came from Kennedy, who won a 7-3 decision at 132 pounds.
The Greenmen advanced to Division II state quarterfinals along with St. Parish Graham, Louisville, Bellevue, Sandusky Perkins, West Holmes, Miami Trace and Hamilton Ross.
Seedings and brackets for the Division II state meet will be released Wednesday.
"I figure we’ll be a one, two or a three seed," Papesh said. "Us, Graham and Louisville will likely be the top three. Beyond that, I don’t know what’s coming."
Papesh said the match with the Beavers was about what he expected, as the Greenmen picked up six wins by forfeit against Riverside.
"We only lost two matches and we forfeited at heavyweight," Papesh said. "We did want we needed to."
Earning pins for Aurora were Kennedy at 138 pounds (34 seconds), Willigham at 145 (1:11), Cumberledge at 152 (2:59) and Lillard at 160 (1:46).
Fishback earned a 19-3 technical fall at 170 pounds and Robbie Sagaris squeezed out a 6-5 decision at 113 pounds.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO