Perfect morning leads Wadsworth to Division I sectional wrestling championship
WADSWORTH — When his team hosted a Division I sectional tournament Saturday, Wadsworth wrestling coach Clay Wenger had high ambitions.
"Our goal is to win all 14 weight classes," Wenger said.
Winning at a tournament with 14 individual champions is the wrestling equivalent of throwing a perfect game.
Yet, after the morning session, Wadsworth was on pace to do it.
The Grizzlies wrestled a perfect morning session, winning every title from 106 to 145 pounds.
"I think our guys are hungry," Wenger said. "We haven't been able to compete for a couple of weeks, so they really want to get after it."
Wadsworth wasn't quite so dominant in the evening. So, the Grizzlies had to settle for winning 10 sectional titles and sending all 14 wrestlers on to Division I district tournament at North Canton Hoover.
The Grizzlies ran away with the team sectional title with 320.5 points. Perry (247.5) and Nordonia (211) were the only teams within shouting distance. Barberton (132.5) and Green (81) rounded out the top five.
Wenger admitted he couldn't have asked for a much better start to the postseason
In the morning session, the Grizzlies got titles from Jaxon Joy (106), Mason Brugh (113), Kade Mellon (120), Mikey Lewarchick (126), Chris Earnest (132) and David Shue (138) to start.
Wadsworth senior Landon Hacker put an exclamation point on the session, as he scored a 19-4 technical fall over Barberton's Mason Valencia, handing Valencia his first loss of the year.
"I'm really proud of Landon," Wenger said, noting that he was recovering from a serious knee injury. "We're planning to wrestle him. He's not got that many more matches in him."
In the evening, Wadsworth 152-pounder Nick Humphreys continued the streak with a 9-1 win over Nordonia's Jeremy Olszko, but a Wadsworth wrestler did not reach the final at 160.
Grizzlies senior Logan Messer won a tight 7-3 match in the 170-pound final over Twinsburg's Aidan Corrigan.
"I thought it was a good match until the last 30 seconds," Twinsburg coach Dave Mariola said. "Messer put himself in a position not to get get taken down."
Finally, Wadsworth captain Jon List completed the Grizzly gold, when he pinned Perry's Ralph Scott in 1:31 in the 195-pound final.
"It means a lot to me," List said. "It means I picked up where I left off last year. I think I'm making leaps and bounds of progress from the beginning of the year.
Perry was able to advance 12 to the district, but Panthers coach Brent McBurney wanted to see a bit more.
"We knew coming in here that we'd have some tough matches," McBurney said. "That's why we came here: To get that good competition.
"We had hoped to 13 or 14 out, but 12 is a good number for us," he added.
McBurney would have liked to have seen more Perry champions, as the Panthers lost their first six championship bouts.
Panther junior 220-pounder Logan Shephard ended that drought when he won his title match 9-2 over Wadsworth's Cohen Grimm.
The standout performer for Perry was freshman heavyweight Aidan Fockler. Fockler needed just 26 second to pin Barberton's Jaekell Springer in his title match.
"He may be a true freshman, but he's wrestled a lot from the beginning in our program," McBurney said. "He's big, he's smart, he work hard and he loves wrestling."
The wrestlers who garnered the biggest crowds to watch him was Nordonia 182-pounder Sal Perrine. The undefeated senior turned on the style in his early matches.
Despite a 12-6 win over Green's Blake Schaffer, both Perrine and Nordonia coach Jason Walters were upset by his performance.
"These guys are frustrating wrestlers," Perrine said of the tall Schaffer. "I just couldn't finish my offense. I felt like a midget out there."
"We don't know that kid from Adam," Walters said. "Sal's not happy, so I know the next week of work is going to bring out a different beast in him."
Walters also wasn't too pleased with the fact Nordonia advanced eight wrestlers to districts.
"Honestly, I think it's sad," he said. "The guys that didn't get out are the guys that you keep telling what you need to fix and they don't listen."
Barberton was held without a champion, but the Magics managed to advance eight wrestlers to the district after bringing only 11 wrestlers.
Green had Schaffer, 195 pounder Garrett Dennis and 285-pounder Clarence Dawson advance.
All 10 teams at Wadsworth came out with at least one district qualifier.
Senior 152-pounder Zevan Simon was Cuyahoga Falls' lone qualifier, but he did so by becoming the Black Tigers' first section champion in years with a 7-2 win over Perry's Sam Rhodes.
After missing the district last year, Simon said he was focused.
"I let myself get beat last year," Simon said. "I wanted to push the pace and work on my stuff."
"That's definitely a big thing for us to build on," said Falls coach Jim Benson. "Zevan has worked his rear end off to get back to this and I know he wants a lot more.
Along with Corrigan, Twinsburg freshman 106-pounder Nick DiTurno and sophomore 138-pound Isaac Cantor earned their first district berths.
"I think everybody wrestled pretty well," Mariola said. "With a lot of our guys, I think they're just now starting to wrestle up to their capabilities. I would to have had an extra four weeks after we lost the beginning of the season."
Canton McKinley brought only five wrestlers to Wadsworth, but two managed to move on. The Bulldogs had 195-pounder Jamaar Barsic and 220-pounder Emmanuell Powell each finish fourth.
North senior Donnie Ware also earned a return to the district with a fourth-place finish at 195 pounds.