PENINSULA — With the postseason looming, the Woodridge and Hudson wrestling teams got together Wednesday to test each other in a friendly dual meet.
Based on the results from the Woodridge auxiliary gymnasium, Explorers head coach Joe Caniglia couldn’t be more thrilled with his team’s readiness for the postseason.
Hudson recorded seven pins and dominated the upper weights on its way to a 51-22 rout of the Bulldogs.
The Explorers improved their dual-meet record to 8-3 heading into their final dual meet, which is scheduled for Thursday at Mayfield. Woodridge ended its season at 12-5 in dual meets.
Caniglia noted that although Hudson wasn’t razor sharp Wednesday, the signs of progress are evident with his team.
"We’re definitely better than we were at the beginning of the season," he said. "I thought we got on a good roll after [Gavin] Wervey’s match [at 145 pounds]. We were able to get some pins and keep the momentum going."
Meanwhile, Bulldogs head coach Mike Massey noted his squad was still behaving like a young team.
"Seven pins: That says it all right there," he said. "You’re not beating anybody if you give up that many. Our biggest problem right now is we’re a team that’s afraid of failure. They’re afraid to lose, so they end up not taking any risks and being aggressive.
"We have a bunch of young men who don’t want to take risks. When you wrestle that way, the other guy is going to take risks and end up winning. We have to just keep going forward. The PTC [Portage Trail Conference] Tournament is in two days."
Both coaches noted the heavyweight bout between the Explorers’ Garrett O’Connell and Woodridge’s Alistair Larson was the best of the night. After a scoreless first period, the two 285-pound grapplers traded escapes.
In the third period, O’Connell landed on top in a bodylock battle and that takedown proved decisive as O’Connell won, 3-2.
"That was a great match," Caniglia said. "I think Garrett wrestled a very good match. He did a good job adjusting the way the referee was calling it. He had to hang on during the last 20 seconds and did what he needed to do."
"Alistair wrestled him much better than he did at the Hudson tournament," Massey said. "Still, he didn’t wrestle his match. He has some great leg attacks and sweeps that are hard to defend and he didn’t throw any of them."
Things started well enough for the Bulldogs as Abdulaziz Vokhidov hit a couple of armbars before getting the pin in 3 minutes, 38 seconds at 106 pounds. Hudson replied at 113 with a 10-2 major-decision win from Logan Morris.
The Explorers’ Will Broadbeck put Woodridge’s Colin Galehouse on his back early, but Galehouse hit a Peterson roll and got a come-from-behind pin in 2:41 at 120 pounds.
"That’s Colin," Massey said. "He has a nasty Peterson and everyone knows he does. You have to avoid it, though, and sometimes you can’t."
However, Hudson snatched the momentum right back when the Bulldogs bumped up Nate Demangeont to 126 pounds. Demangeont got the first takedown on the Explorers’ Matt Hartle, but Hartle took Demangeont onto his back and pinned him in 1:37.
"I was glad to see they moved [Demangeont] up to get a good match," Caniglia said. "It was good to see Matt flip the switch and compete well."
Hudson then got another pin from Ben Romano in 4:17 at 132 pounds, but Woodridge answered with an 11-0 major decision from Luke Radwany at 138 pounds.
It was all Explorers after that.
Following Wervey’s 8-3 win over the Bulldogs’ Jett Johnston at 145 pounds, Hudson got a pin from Noah Batcher at 152, a 17-2 technical fall from Aidan McStay (160), a pin in 1:17 from Nick Jackson (170), a pin in 4:56 from Ian Krauss (182) and a pin in 2:05 from Brendan Demuynck (195).
Woodridge’s lone win in the upper weights came from Miles Ashbaugh (220) via a forfeit.
The Bulldogs were set to wrestle at the PTC tourney Friday and Saturday at Rootstown High School.
They are scheduled to open the postseason Feb. 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the newly formed Division II sectional tournament at Beachwood High School.
Hudson is set to open its postseason run Feb. 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the Division I Kenston sectional tournament in Chagrin Falls.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO.