One look at the field at the Division I sectional wrestling tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights should have left one big impression: The Bees should dominate.
Nationally-ranked Brecksville did just that, dominating the tournament Feb. 29 with 306.5 points and advancing all 14 wrestlers to the district tournament. The top four placers at Brecksvile advanced to districts.
However, there were some good moments for both Cuyahoga Falls and Walsh Jesuit wrestling at sectionals.
Walsh finished fourth in the team race at Brecksville with 133.5 points and advanced seven wrestlers to districts, while Falls finished seventh in with 91 points and advanced four wrestlers to districts, doubling its number of district qualifiers from last season.
Falls coach Jim Benson said his team’s performance at Brecksville was "bittersweet."
"When we were looking at it, we figured we could have zero to five guys get out," Benson said. "Probably out best wrestler didn’t make it out. He had the toughesth weight class there. That’s Northeast Ohio."
The highlight of the tournament for Falls was senior 113-pounder Billie Ferrell reaching the finals. Ferrell secured his spot at district by pinning Firestone’s Hamzah Abdeirahim in 3:25 in the semifinal.
In the final, Ferrell lost via a 16-0 technical fall to Brecksville’s Kaden Jett, but Benson was still pleased.
"It was the best he wrestled all season," Benson said. "113 It was a pretty solid weight class. There was a a lot good underclassmen there. The competition is always solid at districts no matter what weight class it is."
Falls also had 145-pounder Isaac Puchajda earn his first district berth by taking third place. After losing his opening match, Puchajda won three straight to take third place. He avenged his loss in the third-place match but pinning Walsh’s Ronnie Romanini in 2:38.
Falls 220-pounder Gabe Hardman also took third place at sectionals, as he scored an 8-2 decision over Barberton’s Travin Harshbarger in this third-place match. Falls also had 132-pounder Noah McClendon advance by taking fourth place.
What Benson lamented was 152-pounder Zevan Simon failing to advance. Simon was able to salvage a district alternate spot by taking fifth at 152 pounds, as he pinned Firestone’s Robert Tranthem in 2:32 in the fifth-place match.
Also securing district alternate spots was 106-pounder D.J. McVicker, Falls had 120-pounder Roshan Pradham, 182-pounder Yousef Jaber and 195-pounder Nate Borchert finish in sixth place.
As for the Warriors, Walsh came home with a pair of weight class champion.
Freshman 126-pounder Dyvaire "Boots" VanDyke claimed his weight class with a 10-4 win Barberton’s Mason Valencia, while Warrior 152-pounder Adma Salke scored a tight 7-6 decision over Medina Highland’s William Scavuzzo in his final.
The Warriors had two other wrestlers reach the finals, but senior 106-pounder Jack Schmidt lost a 5-0 decision to Brecsksville’s Pito Castro and 132-pounder Chase Henderson was pinned in 2:25 by Brecksville’s Jimmy Carmany.
Walsh had 138-pounder Zach Wiseman finish third at sectionals, while Romaninin and 160-pounder Michael Leonard finished in fourth place. Walsh had one district alternate in 113-pounder Brian Crevar who finished fifth.
Falls and Walsh were set to compete Friday and Saturday at the Division I district tournament at Mentor, where the top four placers in each weight class advance to the state meet.
Although Benson has has a long coaching career in high school wrestling, he said he was looking for his first experience with "The Mentor Meatgrinder."
"There’s a reputation throughout the state for Mentor," Benson said. "I’ve heard of it. Now I get to actually see it."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO