The road to immortality began Saturday for the Aurora wrestling team.
So far, so good.
The Greenmen took a successful first step in their journey to a state championship after winning the 11-team Beachwood Division II sectional tournament with 250 points.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was the runner-up with 207 points and Revere took third with 164.5 points.
All told, 11 Greenmen qualified for the district competition, which is scheduled to take place Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday (9:30 a.m.) at Alliance High School. The top four placers in each weight class advanced..
Head coach Johnny Papesh said the Greenmen had a "pretty good" tournament, though he lamented not getting all 13 wrestlers out of sectionals.
"We’re leaving two kids behind, so I’m a little bit upset about that," Papesh said. "Overall, it was not too bad."
Aurora crowned six champions and also had one runner-up.
The Greenmen dominated the middle weights. Nic Willingham started a run of five straight champions, as he defeated Revere’s Gavin Butler 8-2 in the 138-pound final, while David Cumberledge won the 145-pound title over Hunting Valley University School’s Joe Averill (11-6).
"Willingham has a tough district weight with about six good kids," Papesh said. "We have to come out on top of that mountain. Cumberledge wrested a little sloppy. It’s hard to get up for sectionals when you’re a two-time state runner-up."
Aurora’s Tyler Lillard (152) and Dylan Fishback (160) each had three pins on their way to their respective titles.
"Ty looked great," Papesh said. "It was a normal Dylan Fishback performance, which was total dominance."
At 170 pounds, Ethan Anderson got what Papesh called a "big win" over Revere’s Zayne Leham (13-1), while Evan Anderson pinned his way to the 195-pound title.
"I think Ethan had a bit of a chip on his shoulder going into the final," Papesh said. "He made a statement with that win. Evan handled his business. He has a tough weight class, but I think he can win at districts."
At 106 pounds, Codie Cuerbo also made the final, but he ran into his nemesis — Copley’s Marlon Yarbrough — and lost 12-2 in his final.
Placing third for Aurora were Robbie Sagaris (113) and Antwan Sagaris (120), along with Brian Kennedy (132).
Capturing fourth for the Greenmen was freshman Quinn Gorman (182).
Aurora’s Bo DiJulius is a district alternate after placing fifth at 126 pounds. Freshman Joey Arnold (220) finished sixth.
"Everyone placed at least," Papesh said.
While acknowledging that the Alliance district will be extremely tough, Papesh said his team is ready for the challenge.
"We live in deep waters, so it’s nothing new for us," he said. "I believe our schedule that we have is the toughest of anyone at Alliance. We’ve been in tough tournaments every single week. We are just thankful and excited for the opportunity to go wrestle."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO.