CHAGRIN FALLS — Hudson head wrestling coach Joe Caniglia wanted his team to keep its goals simple at the Kenston Division I sectional tournament Saturday in Chagrin Falls.
"We talked about just wanting to put ourselves in a position to move on," he said. "We could worry about where we are, but once you get to districts, anything could happen."
Five Explorers are moving on as the top four placers in each weight class advanced to the district competition, which is scheduled to take place next Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.) at Mentor High School.
However, Caniglia probably wishes Hudson could have performed better in the finals. The Explorers went just 3-7 in placement matches, including 0-3 in title bouts.
Hudson finished sixth in the 10-team sectional with 132.5 points. Austintown Fitch won the team title with 219 points. Austintown-Fitch won the competition with 219 points. Boardman (190.5) and Stow-Munroe Falls (176.5) placed second and third, respectively.
The Explorers had the top seeds with Brendan Demuynck and Garrett O’Connell at 195 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Both wrestlers followed similar paths: After wrestling well in the early rounds, each lost their title matches after getting thrown on their back early.
"You have to settle into the match in the first 10 seconds and set the flow of the match from there," Caniglia said. "We dug ourselves into holes that were tough to climb out of."
After wrestling at 220 last year at Kenston, Demuynck smashed his first two opponents, pinning Bedford’s DeMaryon Smith in one minute and Fitch’s Austin Grate in 1:44.
In his final against Boardman’s Jake Powell, though, Demuynck somehow ended up in a side headlock and down 5-0 early. Demuynck rallied to trim the lead to 9-7 early in the third period, but he was caught trying to take chances and lost 19-7.
"Brendan did a great job coming back and shooting on low singles," Caniglia said. "When you’re behind, though, it’s different trying to shoot low singles than when it’s 0-0."
After a bye in his first match, O’Connell pinned Kenston’s Cale Doyle in 5:33 to reach the final. However, in the final with Fitch’s Joey Perez, a hip toss put O’Connell in a 5-0 deficit early.
Like Demunyck, O’Connell rallied in the third period, but Perez got the decisive takedown late to score a 9-5 decision.
Sophomore Aidan McStay also reached his weight final (160). McStay pinned Nordonia’s Mason Ridgely in 1:27 and Twinsburg’s Damon Goff in 40 seconds to reach the final.
In the final, McStay had no answer for top-seeded Jake Mack of Solon, who scored a 7-0 decision win. Caniglia said McStay simply ran into a better wrestler in the final.
"I’m certainly not disappointed in his effort," Caniglia said. "He wrestled a full six minutes as he always does. We just have a few things to work on."
Wrestling a in a four-man bracket, Hudson got a third-place finish from Nick Peri (220). Peri pinned Boardman’s Matt Bell in 4:09 in his third-place match.
Rounding out the district qualifiers for the Explorers was Gavin Wervey, who finished in fourth place at 145 pounds. Wervey lost a 10-4 decision to Stow’s J.R. Reed in his third-place match.
Hudson had two other wrestlers in district-alternate status as Logan Morris (113) and Matt Hartle (126) each took fifth place.
Taking sixth place were Ethan Boicey (120), Nick Jackson (170) and Ian Krauss (182).
At the upcoming district tournament, the top four performers in each weight class advance to the state meet.
"They know what they’re heading into," Caniglia said. "We just have to take it one match at a time. We’ll see what happens."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO.