Stow wrestling advances eight to district tournament
"Solid" was the best way to describe the 2020-21 season for Stow-Munroe Falls wrestling.
The Bulldogs showed themselves to be a strong dual meet team, but did not get any tournament experience due to the pandemic.
Thus, it was a bit of a change when Stow competed at the Division I sectional tournament at Euclid Feb 27.
The results, however, were right in line with the season for Stow.
The Bulldogs took fourth in the team race at Euclid with 167 points, finishing just 14 points behind champions Medina (181 points).
More importantly, Stow advanced eight wrestlers to the Division I district tournament at North Canton Hoover, including two weight class champions. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to districts.
Bulldog coach Tyler Buckwalter noted all 11 Stow wrestlers finished on the podium at Euclid.
"We went into the tournament thinking everybody could get out," Buckwalter said. "It was pretty even the whole way through. There was a lot of good matches. There's a couple of matches we wish would have had back, but overall it was a good tournament for us."
The most pleasant surprise of the tournament was senior 145-pounder Braden Cowger, who won the sectional title to claim the first tournament crown of his career.
Once Walsh Jesuit state qualifier Chase Henderson was scratched due to injury, the 145-pound bracket was wide open.
Cowger took advantage by pinning his way to the final and then beating Brush's London Settles 9-4 in the title match.
"I think we definitely thought Braden had a chance to get out," Buckwalter said. "He's one of those kids who been with the program four years. All that hard work he put in it paid off. He walked off the match and told me 'Coach, that's the first tournament I've ever won.'"
Sophomore 220-pounder Teddy Gregory was Stow's most dominant wrestler at Euclid. He pinned his way to the title, including a pin in 5:38 over Hudson's Nick Jackson in the title match.
"Those were probably the most complete matches he's wrestlers all year," Buckwalter said. "He really wrestled well for all six minutes and he did a good job staying in position. Getting to states, that's been his goal all year."
Sophomore 120-pounder Micah Bentley also was able to reach the finals, as he dominated Medina's Bryce Russell in the semifinal 15-1.
While Bentley was a bit outclassed in the final, losing 13-1 to Mayfield's Eddie Wallace, Buckwalter was happy with the progress Bentley has made this season.
"Talk about someone making a bunch of steps forward this year," Buckwalter said. "He had a bunch of good matches this year and he's putting some new techniques together. He's got a motor for sure."
Junior 182-pounder Will Edmonson had hoped to win his weight class and nearly pulled it off, but lost 8-6 wot GlenOak's Avant Money in the final.
"It was a really good match. Will ended up getting thrown in the first period and down 5-0, but came back with two takedowns," Buckwalter said. "In the third period, we were in on a shot, but Will got elevated and thrown again. I think we have somethings to work on for this week."
Stow 138-pounder Vince Randall was among the favorites in his bracket, but his postseason got off to a disastrous start.
In a scramble off the while, Randall was caught and pinned in 10 seconds by Mayfield's Dominic Tudini in his first match.
"The kid rolled him through and managed to elevate him onto his back," Buckwalter said. "It was just a mistake early in the match. After that, Vince was on mission."
Randall recovered to take third place, as Walsh's Ronnie Romanini defaulted the third place match.
Stow 152-pounder JR Reed also finished in third, as he pinned Medina's Blaine Chrisman in 41 seconds.
Also finishing third was senior 170-pounder Ty Bukowski, who defeated Walsh's Brock Sherman 9-3 in his third place match.
The Bulldogs also saw senior Zach DiGiammarino reach districts for the first time, as he took fourth place.
Earning district alternate spots by taking fifth place were senior 132-pounder Nathan Craft and sophomore 160-pounder JT Hill.
Junior heavyweight Mason Mennell finished sixth for the Bulldogs, but Buckwalter said he's already looking to improve on that.
"He walked off the mat and asked me when can we start wrestling again," Buckwalter said. "I know he'll be doing a lot of lifting with football, but I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do."
The only bad news for the Bulldogs happened before the tournament, as freshman 113-pounder Robert Davis was scratched due to a knee injury.
The Division I district tournament at North Canton Hoover was set for Friday and Saturday, with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to the state tournament.