By JOSH LOWE
Special to The Gazette
TALLMADGE â€” Like death and taxes, domination in Suburban League wrestling by Wadsworth is a constant.
For the 13th consecutive year, the Grizzlies won the SL Tournament by scoring 282Â½ points Saturday. Thirteen of their wrestlers advanced to the championship with 10 winning titles.
â€œIt was an excellent showing,â€ Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. â€œThis is a very good start for the month of champions as the sectional tournament is next week.â€
Three Wadsworth wrestlers won their third individual SL championships.
Senior Danny Foore (130) opened his tournament with a 15-0 technical fall and a first-period pin to advance to the evening session of championship finals. In that match, Foore secured a fall in 3:14 against senior Jim Bede from Highland.
Juniors Brad Squire (140) and Ben Buzzelli (285) also won their third league titles, and have the chance to join a select group of wrestlers as four-time champions next season.
Buzzelli earned his championship with three pins. After pinning his preliminary round opponents in just less than two minutes, Buzzelliâ€™s championship match against Barbertonâ€™s Lance Coher was four times as long.
The score was tied 2-2 after seven minutes. In the first 30-second tiebreak period, Buzzelli was able to ride out Coher from the top position. Buzzelli chose down in the second of the tiebreak periods, caught Coher too high on top and reversed him for the pin just before the horn.
One of the more anticipated evening matches placed Squire â€” twice a state finalist â€” against Highland senior Jon McKee, who is projected as a Division II placer by the Brakeman Report.
However, Squire removed that sense of anticipation quickly as he took a 4-0 first period lead with a takedown and two-point near fall.
â€œI just wanted to keep moving and attacking on my feet,â€ Squire said. â€œBy working my setups, and wrestling my style, the points would come.â€
Indeed they did, as three subsequent takedowns would come Squireâ€™s way in the last two periods as part of an 11-2 victory.
Other champions for Wadsworth were freshman Kagan Squire (112); sophomores Alfredo Gray (103), Nate Ball (145), and Sheldon Brandenburg (152); juniors Bart Randolph (171) and Caleb Busson (189); and senior Alex Gray (119).
Two Highland wrestlers did defeat Wadsworth opponents on their way to SL titles.
Senior Ben Brown (160) earned a second consecutive crown with a 7-2 victory over Wadsworthâ€™s Aarick Jones. Brown extended scored a late four-point move, securing the takedown off a high-crotch shot and finishing it into a cradle.
In the most intriguing match of the evening, senior Tyler Houska (215) won an elusive SL title, after finishing second the last two years to two-time state runner-up Adam Cogar of Barberton.
However, it was not easy, as Houska had to face an opponent of similar build in freshman Nick Tavanello. In the first period, Houska countered a very deep single-leg takedown attempt with a switch and follow-up scramble.
â€œThatâ€™s something Iâ€™m very good at,â€ said Houska. â€œItâ€™s something that I work on because the situation seems to happen in key matches.â€
After an escape in the second to extend the lead to 3-1, Houska tried to ride out Tavanello in third using the crab technique and then slipping in the boots.
That was successful for the first 90 seconds, but Tavanello finally got a reversal to tie the match. However, Houska would escape with under 15 seconds left in the match to secure a 4-3 victory and keep his undefeated season intact.
â€œI didnâ€™t want the match to go to overtime,â€ Houska said. â€œI wanted to win it now when the ball was in my court.â€
Despite wins by Brown and Houska, Highland finished third. Barberton scored 155 points to the Hornetsâ€™ 152Â½.
Ten of the 12 Highland wrestlers placed, despite the team missing key contributors Dan Mirman (112) â€” a defending SL champion â€” and freshman Colin Rininger (119).
â€œWith some backups and younger wrestlers in the lineup, I thought we wrestled well,â€ Highland coach Mark Savoia said. â€œIt was a good performance overall.â€
One of the two Hornets wrestlers not to place was senior state qualifier Logan Gresock (145), who sustained a minor injury in a semifinal loss by fall to Tim Bihun of Revere.
â€œWe just decided not to risk anything,â€ Savoia said. â€œWith the sectional tournament next week, we want to make sure that he would be as close to 100 percent as possible.â€
Despite only having nine wrestlers in the lineup, Cloverleaf had six of them place as part of a fifth-place finish.
Junior Kyle Morton led the Colts, finishing second at 189. Defending champion Shane Jenkins was third at 145 pounds.
Other Cloverleaf wrestlers to place were juniors Pat Kovacs (152) and Mike King (HVY) in third and sophomore Ben Weinerman (215) taking home fourth.
â€œDespite battling illness and injury, weâ€™re improving on a weekly basis,â€ said Cloverleaf coach Ken Arend. â€œIâ€™m proud of the performance, especially the 4-2 record in the evening session.â€
Lowe may be reached at email@example.com.