Woodridge wrestling opened its 2020 postseason run with a trip to the new Division II sectional tournament Feb. 29 at Beachwood.
How was the competition level? According to coach Mike Massey, that depended on the weight class.
"We only had five heavyweights and five 106 pounders," Massey said "By the numbers, it was pretty thin, but there were some pretty tough weight classes.
Woodridge ended up taking fifth place at Beachwood with 128 points. Aurora won the sectional title with 250 points, while Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was second with 207 points.
More importantly, the Bulldogs advanced seven wrestlers on the district tournament. The top four placers in each weight class advanced to districts.
"You never have perfect tournament," Massey said. "You never get out all the guys you think you should. We’re not unhappy with seven guys getting out. It was pretty good."
Woodridge’s lone weight class champion at Beachwood was sophomore heavyweight Alistair Larson. Larson was given the top seed at 285 pounds and pinned SVSM’s Max Vanscoy in 1:14 in the semifinals.
Larson then claimed the title with a pin in 1:08 over Revere’s Cody Luther.
"He’s wresting well. He’s kind of peaking at the right time," Massey said. "He doesn’t feel any pressure for districts because he’s a sophomore. I think he’s got a legitimate shot [to get to states]. It all comes down to who’s on that day at districts."
Senior 220-pounder Miles Ashbaugh also reached the final at Beachwood, as he was given the top seed and beat Copley’s Landon Robinson 5-2 in the semifinal.
In the final, however, Ashbaugh went all the way to ultimate tie-breaker round with SVSM’s Geogre Linberger. With match tied at 1-1, Linberger rode Ashbaugh out to get the win and the title.
"It was almost an exact duplicate of the same match they had at the state duals," Massey said. "Miles hasn’t wrestled well against that kid. He’s perfectly capable of beating him. They’ll probably see each other sometime on Saturday at districts."
Wrestling behind the state’s top two-ranked 106-pounders, Woodridge sophomore Abdulaziz Vokhidov took third at 106, pinning Revere’s Brandfon Brinker in his third-place match.
Also taking third place for Woodridge was 138-pounder Luke Radwany, who defeated SVSM’s Bryce Skinner 5-3 in his third-place match.
Massey made the decision to move junior Nathan Demangeont to 126 pounds for the postseason. Despite a rough tournament, Demangeont did get out, although he had to settle for fourth place.
"We just thought he had a better chance at 126," Massey said. "He’s got goals. He wants to get to Columbus and 120 at Alliance is just absolutely brutal. You’ve got three returning All-Ohioans and state qualifier there. Nate got a good draw at Alliance."
Also taking fourth place were 152-pounder Kyle McPherson and 195-pounder Kevin Baker. Woodridge also had 145-pounder Jett Johnson finish as a district alternate by taking fifth place.
The Division II district tournament at Alliance will take place Friday and Saturday with the top four placers in each weight class advancing to the Division II state tournament.
Massey is among those who believes Alliance is the toughest district tournament in the state, regardless of division.
"It’s what it is," Massey said. "It says a lot about our area and how good we are in terms of wrestler. Every year, kids who deserve to go to Columbus don’t make it.
"We’ve seen some many crazy things happen at the district tournament for years" he added. "It’s who’s ‘on’ that day that can decide things."