MEDINA â€” No need for ironing, the wrinkles have been pressed and the shirts starched.
Highlandâ€™s wrestling team and Brunswickâ€™s Richie Spicel came into Saturdayâ€™s Medina Invitational Tournament with a few questions at the midpoint of the season.
If the end result from the MIT is any indication, the two will like what happens two months from now at the state tournament.
Spicel (140 pounds) successfully defended his title and the Hornets saw Dan Mirman (3rd, 103), Bart Young (3rd, 112), Tyler Houska (3rd, 215) and Steve Timoteo (5th, 152) place. Add it up, and Highland scored its most points under coach Mark Savoia (114Â½) to finish seventh overall and third in the Division II race.
â€œThe beginning of the season is about working the kinks out,â€ Savoia said. â€œLast week (at the North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament) really helped out.
â€œThis kind of shows weâ€™re heading in the right direction. If the kids keep their heads on, weâ€™re not going to back down. Weâ€™re going to get some kids to state.â€
While Savoia would have loved to put a Hornet on top of the podium, he saw the most growth out of his four placers because of a loss.
Houska and Timoteo both fell in their semifinal matches but found the wherewithal to win their last match and pick up points to keep the Hornets ahead of Millersburg West Holmes in the team race.
Young and Mirman each lost their quarterfinals matches but then won their next four matches to finish third.
â€œThatâ€™s huge,â€ Savoia said. â€œTo bounce back from that quarter or semifinal loss and to place high, thatâ€™s what gets you to state. Thatâ€™s the match at the district level that gets you to Columbus and puts you in a position to continue your season.â€
Spicel is just happy to wrestle this year after suffering a sprained foot right before the start of the season. All set for the Ironman, the 140-pounder got hurt at practice and missed the biggest tournament of the year.
Back in action, the two-time state finalist returned to the mat but didnâ€™t find the competition he was looking for at the Mike Lewis Invitational or in duals with Avon, Fairview Park Fairview, Padua and Lakewood.
Spicel, who joined teammates Matt Valenti (6th, 130), Zach Lariviere (6th, 145) and Kyle Ballow (8th, HVY) on the podium, got it at the MIT.
â€œItâ€™s like a building block,â€ Spicel said. â€œItâ€™s the start of the season. Because I didnâ€™t wrestle the Ironman, I didnâ€™t know where I was at. This is the first part of the road. I proved I could hang with the competition.â€
Actually, Spicel proved he could crush the competition.
After a first day that included two pins and a technical fall, Spicel ran into Uniontown Lake state placer Scott Mattingly and survived a grueling 3-1 semifinal win.
That set the stage for a bout with two-time Michigan state placer Justin McDermitt of Davison. Spicel never broke a sweat in a 7-2 win.
â€œI think this helps a lot,â€ Brunswick coach Mike Koshar said. â€œHe knows his working form is where it needs to be. Itâ€™s the first time heâ€™s been tested and he came through. Now we just need to do a little fine-tuning.â€
Medinaâ€™s Tom Kerrigan (3rd, 171) and Jake Allen (6th, 160) joined the tandem of Shane Jenkins (5th, 145) and Ricky Garrett (6th, 125) on the podium. So did Liverpool Townshipâ€™s Chaz McGrain (8th, 135) of Olmsted Falls.