Daniel Patten had a simple mission heading into the Division I district tournament at Mentor: Bring home his first district title.
The Bulldogs ace did just that, claiming the district title at 152 pounds Saturday at Mentor.
Of course, the title he really wants will have to wait until this weekend where, for the third straight year, Patten will represent the Bulldogs alone at the state tournament.
Stow-Munroe Falls tied for 13th place at districts, tying with host Mentor with 43.5 points. Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Wadsworth tied for the district team title with 223 points.
Stow coach Tyler Buckwalter said he would have liked to get three wrestlers to the state tournament, but Mentor proved to be a minefield again for the Bulldogs.
"It was a little bit different than last year year, but it was definitely super solid," Buckwalter said. "You look at the some weight classes that were there and there six guys who could have finished on the state podium. It was good wrestling.
"I thought Dan wrestled smart. He wrestled a couple of very strong kids," Buckwalter added. "Daniel did a really good job controlling the matches. We were just happy with that."
Patten dominated his first two matches, beating Willoughby South’s Nick Hollerbach by a 19-2 technical fall and pinning GlenOak’s Brandon Batson in 5:32.
In his semifinal match, Patten faced a defensive-minded Danny Martich of Painesville Riverside. While Martich was able to slow the pace, Patten scored a 3-0 win to reach the final.
"I don’t think he took a forward step the entire match," Patten said. "I ended up putting a good ride on him, so that was that."
Patten’s foe in the district title match was a very familiar one: Walsh Jesuit’s Adam Salek, who was Patten’s drill partner during his freshman year at Walsh Jesuit.
"I think we wrestled off 15 times during my freshman year," Patten said. "He won eight times, I won seven and he got to go to sectionals."
This time around, Patten got the only takedown of the match in the first period with a single leg, rode Salek in the second period and came out with a 3-1 win to claim the district title.
The Division I state tournament was set to begin at 5:40 p.m. Friday at the Value City Arena in Columbus. Patten was set to open at states vs. Cincinnati Elder’s Bartley Thomas.
Buckwalter noted the 152-pound bracket might be one of the best in Division I.
"It’s a very deep weight class," Buckwalter said. "Everybody down there is going to be good. With where he’s at in the bracket, he’s got a chance to face the defending state champion and defending state runner-up before he even gets to the final. When you’re looking at three top notch guys, it could be overwhelming, so [he] just has to take it one match at a time.
"That’s a good thing," Patten said. "If I’m going to win my first state title, I might as well go through a couple good kids."
Elsewhere at districts, "The Mentor Meatgrinder" took a bit of a bite out of the Bulldogs.
Buckwalter had hoped sophomore 132-pounder Vince Randall could advance, but he ended up going 2-2 at districts and was eliminated with a 17-6 loss to Walsh’s Chase Henderson.
"It was definitely a tough weight class," Buckwalter said. "I’m proud of the season he had."
Also going 2-2 at Mentor was sophomore 113-pounder Luke Marconi.
A tough draw doomed sophomore 145-pounder JR Reed to a 1-2 finish at Mentor, while freshman 182-pounder Teddy Gregory also went 1-2.
Freshman 126-pounder Blake Kaminski and 170-pounder Ty Bukowski each went 0-2 at Mentor.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO