BAINBRDIGE TOWNSHIP — After winning the team team title the last two years at the Division I sectional tournament at Kenston, Nordonia coach Jason Walters knew his young team might not be able to reach such a lofty goal this season.
That doesn’t mean the Knights’ performance at Kenston Saturday was poor by any stretch.
Nordonia finished fourth at the 10-team Kenston sectional with 175 points, just 1.5 points behind third-place Stow-Munroe Falls. Austintown Fitch won the team title with 219 points.
More importantly, the Knights advanced seven wrestlers to the district tournament as the top four placers in each weight class at Kenston advanced.
Although not completely satisfied, Walters was generally happy with the Knights.
"I think we had some guys that could possibly get out not make it, but we also had a few who I didn’t think would make it get out," Walters said. "Our kids have something to build on for next season. I think they realize now if they work harder, they can get more out of it."
Highlighting the tournament for Nordonia were individual wins for freshman 132-pounder Jeremy Olszko and 182-pounder Sal Perrine.
Olszko was given the top seed at 132 and breezed to the finals, pinning Twinsburg’s Jacob Flash in 1:56, sticking Hudson’s Ben Romano in 3:15 and dominating Kenston’s Frank DiMarco with an 11-3 major decision.
In the final, Olszko started well vs. Stow’s Vince Randall with a double-leg takedown in the first 10 seconds, but then slowed down. With the match tied a 3-3 late, Olszko got a reversal and nearly put Randall on his back before hanging on for a 5-4 win.
"I was just mainly focusing on my defense," Olszko said. "I was trying to not make any mistakes. Maybe I was a bit nervous."
"Jeremy has had a lot of growing pains this year," Walter said. "I think he wrestled well until the final. He works hard and he’s a tough kid."
Meanwhile, Perrine picked up his third sectional title and looks to be in dangerous form.
Perrine pinned Kent Roosevelt’s Jaden Harris in 43 seconds, stuck Twinsburg’s Wyatt Myers in 17 seconds and hit a nasty guillotine to pin Stow’s Teddy Gregory in 1:59.
In the final vs. Bedford’s William Speight, Perrine faced a foe determined to keep the match as close as possible. It took Perrine about a period to find his groove, and he eventually scored seven takedowns on his way to a 16-6 major decision.
"He was kind of doing everything to just stay in the match," Perrine said. "The whole year, I’ve been working on my pace. I don’t think anybody can stay with him. I’ve been working on my riding and think it showed today."
"Sal Perrine is doing whatever Sal Perrine wants," Walter said. "He doesn’t say much, he just works hard. Sal’s on a mission. Nothing is going to be given, of course."
Nordonia had three other wrestlers reach their respective weight class finals.
At 126 pounds, junior Trevor Stautihar earned his first district place by reaching the final, but was pinned in 3:20 by top seed Colin Roberts of Fitch.
Junior 170-pounder Josh Wujnouvich may have had the best tournament of his career until the final, when he ran into Twinsburg’s Aidan Corrigan and was pinned in 36 seconds.
Finally, wrestling in a four-man bracket, sophomore 220-pounder Corey Parker won his semifinal match 5-1 over Hudson’s Nick Peri, but was pinned in 19 seconds in his final by Fitch’s A.J. Winterrburn.
Nordonia’s other two district qualifiers took fourth place in 120-pounder Caleb Ridgely and heavyweight David "Spanky" Howard.
Walters lamented that junior 138-pounder Tyler Angus was unable to advance to districts, noting Angus suffered through his worst tournament of the season.
Angus was able to salvage a district alternate spot, taking fifth place by pinning Bedford’s Kylan Maloney in 1:59. Nordonia 106-pounder Nick Hamad also took fifth place, as he beat Stow’s Chase Mygrants 9-2 in his fifth-place match.
Taking sixth place for Nordonia at Kenston was 195-pounder Aiden Fryer.
Nordonia’s district qualifiers now have a date with "The Mentor Meatgrinder." The Division I district tournament at Mentor will take place Friday and Saturday with the top four placers in each weight class advancing to the state tournament.