What to watch in Northeast Ohio high school wrestling sectional tournaments

Chris Easterling
The Independent
Dan Adams (top) of Louisville defeated Dakota Whitacre of Lake in a 120 pound bout at Lake on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

The high school wrestling tournament is going to have a different look this season, in part because it has taken a different path to get to the postseason.

Instead of schools being assigned their sectional sites, teams were seeded within the district pods they were part of. Once seeded, they had a choice of which sectional site they wanted to compete in, save for the schools which were designated as host sites.

That has spread out many of the teams which normally would have been together in one place. It has also created some interesting potential sectional battles once the tournament begins on Saturday.

Here's a look at each of the sectional sites and some of the key teams and wrestlers there.

Division I

Austintown Fitch: The host school, Fitch, and Lake each were top-seven seeds in the draw. Those two each come into the sectional with three wrestlers ranked by Intermat's Josh Lowe. For the Falcons, it's Colin Roberts (third, 138 pounds), Tyler Lantner (10th, 152) and Jacob Smail (15th, 182). For the Blue Streaks, it's Thomas Cassetty (11th, 120), Ben Sponseller (13th, 132) and Michael Keeling (12th, heavyweight). Hoover, Painesville Riverside and Solon also have three wrestlers ranked by Intermat, while Boardman and Mentor have two apiece.

Brecksville's Victor Voinovich, right, takes down Wadsworth's Nick Humphrys during their 152 pound semifinal match in the Division I State Dual wrestling tournament at St. Edward High School, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Lakewood, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Brecksville: This figures to be the battle between Brecksville and Highland. The Bees, and the Hornets have 19 of the 21 wrestlers ranked by Intermat among the 10 teams in the field. Brecksville, the No. 1 seed among the Northeast East sectionals, has 11 ranked wrestlers, led by the No. 1 wrestlers at 152 (Victor Voinovich) and 220 (Ben Vanadia), and the No. 3 wrestlers at 120 (Kaden Jett) and 126 (Brock Herman). Highland, the No. 3 seed, is led by the third-ranked 145-pounder, James Scavuzzo.

Euclid: As with the Fitch sectional, this field is more balanced in terms of how many teams come in with ranked wrestlers. Mayfield is the highest-seeded team at No. 5, with top-ranked 106-pounder Vince D'Alessandro one of its two wrestlers ranked. Walsh Jesuit has five ranked wrestlers, the highest total among the nine-team field, while GlenOak — led by ninth-ranked 170-pounder Ronald Dimmerling — and Hudson each have three ranked.

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Wadsworth: The host Grizzlies lead this sectional with 11 of their 14 wrestlers being ranked in Division I, led by three ranked second — Jaxon Jay (106), Mason Brugh (113) and Logan Messer (170) — and three more in the top five in Jonathan List (third, 195), Chris Earnest (fourth, 132) and Mikey Lewarchick (fifth, 126). Perry is the only other school here with multiple wrestlers — in this case, six — who were either ranked or earned a special mention by Intermat. No. 2-ranked 220 Logan Shephard, No. 3 heavyweight Aidan Fockler and No. 4 106 Austin McBurney are tops for the Panthers. Three individuals to watch outside of Wadsworth or Perry: Nordonia's Sal Perrine (second, 182), McKinley's Mani Powell (seventh, 220) and Twinsburg's Aidan Corrigan (sixth, 170).

Logan Shephard, a Perry junior, right, trains with assistant coach Dan Genetin at a recent practice.

Division II

Beachwood: Of the five Northeast sectionals in Division II, this is the only one which won't funnel into the Lake County Perry district. Instead, the top four in each weight will head to Norwalk. It is also, potentially, the most top-heavy with three of the top four seeds among the North sectionals: No. 1 Buckeye, No. 2 Aurora and No 4 St. Vincent-St. Mary. Both the Greenmen (195-pounder Dylan Fishback) and Irish (120-pounder Dierre Clayton) have top-ranked Division II wrestlers among their arsenal of highly-rated groups, while the Bucks are a young but talented group anchored by fourth-ranked Todd Allen (heavyweight) and fifth-ranked Logan Cravatas (113).

Highland's Dominic Konopka, right, is flipped by Aurora's Dylan Fishback during their 195 pound match, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Aurora, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Lake Catholic: The third-seeded host Cougars are the cream of this crop. They possess seven of the 15 ranked wrestlers in the field, led by Brendan McCrowe (second, 120), Cole Hivner (third, 182) and Ethan Smith (fourth, 138).

Painesville Harvey: Keystone, Lake County Perry and Woodridge were seed five through seven among the 32 Division II North teams. The Wildcats and Pirates each have four wrestlers either ranked or earning special mention, led by Nick Hickman (ninth, 195) for the former and Colin Koenig (sixth, 145) for the latter. The Bulldogs are led by Nathan Demangeont (12th, 126) and Alistair Larson (11th, heavyweight).

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Northwest: One of two Northeast South sectionals, the Stark County site is anchored by three strong Summit County entries in second-seeded Revere, third-seeded Copley and seventh-seeded CVCA. Marlon Yarbrough, the No. 1 Division II 113-pounder, is one of three Copley wrestlers ranked in the top five. Kyle Snider, the No. 1 Division II 220, is one of three top-eight-ranked Royals. Zayne Lehman (fourth, 182) and Cooper Krauth (fifth, 138) lead the Minutemen contingent. Fairless' Max Kirby, the No. 8-ranked 152-pounder, Canton South's Tyler Williams (10th, 220) and Northwest's Cody Logan (11th, 220) are individuals to watch among the three Stark teams.

Garett Lautzenheiser (right) of Louisville defeated Logan Miller of Canfield in a 126 pound bout during their match at Louisville on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

West Branch: This sectional boasts a lot of talented wrestlers on a lot of different teams. However, the story of this site is one team in particular: No. 1-seeded Louisville. The Leopards begin their quest for what they hope is a state championship with 10 ranked wrestlers, led by top-ranked and returning state champions Garett Lautzenheiswer (126) and Davin Rhoads (138). Three others are ranked in the top four, while another three are in the top 10. Looking for a non-Louisville wrestlers to watch, keep an eye out for West Branch's Kenny Marra, the No. 2 220-pounder.

Claymont: An East District sectional that will send its district qualifiers to Gallia Academy, but Minerva and Carrollton figure to take up a lot of the spotlight. The Lions are led by No. 2-ranked heavyweight Jarrett Burress among seven wrestlers who earned some mention by Intermat, while the Warriors are paced by Brandon Brown (11th, 138).

Minerva's Jarrett Burress, right, and Marlington's Drake Clemens during their heavyweight match at Marlington High School on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

Division III

Berkshire: Tuslaw, the host school and Middlefield Cardinal all were top-five seeds among the Division III North sectional teams, which will funnel to the Garfield Heights district. The Mustangs are anchored by Joe Viront (eighth, 138), Zack Lyons (special mention, 120) and Devyn Vanest (special mention, 132). Fourth-ranked Lucas Stoddard and seventh-ranked Jerry Rose set up a potential top-eight battle between Berkshire and Cardinal at 182.

Tuslaw's Zack Lyons — pinning Northwest's Joe Mitchell in a 113-pound bout at the 2020 Top Gun Wrestling Tournament  — won a PAC-7 title last weekend and the junior also qualified for the state tournament a year ago.  (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)

Independence: Portage County figures to be well-represented between top-seeded Mogadore, sixth-seeded Garrettsville and seventh-seeded Southeast. The Wildcats are led by Tyler Knight (second, 195) and Nick Skye (fourth, 152). Seventh-ranked 152-pounder Keegan Sell is the G-Men's top-ranked wrestler, while Jaidyn Sapp (12th, 195) is the same for the Pirates. Lutheran West's Donovan Palmer (third, 160) and Ashtabula St. John's Ryan Elrod (fourth, heavyweight) are two other individuals to watch.

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Northwestern: What used to be a Wayne County bastion hasn't changed with the new format, as seven of the eight Wayne County Athletic League teams are among the 13 entries looking to advance to Garfield Heights. Waynedale, not surprising, is the heavy favorite here with seven ranked wrestlers, led by No. 3-ranked 170-pounder Peyton Lemon. Dalton boasts five such wrestlers, including fourth-ranked 220-pounder Austin Ryder. Norwayne has two wrestlers — 145-pounder Austin Shephard and 220-pounder Kaden Kidd — ranked second, while Rittman's Sevi Garza is No. 1 at 170.

Rootstown's Caleb Edwards pins Woodridge's Nathan Demangeont last season.

Rootstown: South Range, the No. 1-seeded Division III South team, and Rootstown, the No. 3 team, stand as the deepest in the field. The Pirates have six wrestlers ranked, including fourth-ranked 120-pounder Raymond Cmil. The Rovers are led by 126-pound favorite Caleb Edward.

Sandy Valley: The East District sectional will send its qualifiers to the Buckeye Local district. Those qualifiers figure to include a number of wrestlers from the host school, which has six ranked entering competition. Third-ranked Cameron Blair at 195 leads the way.

Reach Chris at chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Akron Beacon Journal sports writer Michael Leonard and Akron Beacon Journal correspondent Brad Bournival contributed to this story.