December 22, 2014

Medina
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Wrestling: Six champions lead Wadsworth to another title

WADSWORTH — It’s been a decade of dominance for Wadsworth’s wrestling team at the Grizzly Invitational Tournament.

To put that in perspective, the last time Wadsworth lost a GIT, the president was playing saxophone, the country wasn’t at war and gas was less than $2 a gallon.

Wadsworth heavyweight Jake Crowley scores a takedown on Eastlake North’s Rory McComb. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

Wadsworth heavyweight Jake Crowley scores a takedown on Eastlake North’s Rory McComb. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

That’s something not lost on this crop of Grizzlies, who topped their closest competitor, Olentangy Liberty, by 154 points Saturday.

“That shows how much dedication we have to the sport,” Nick Tavanello said. “If you don’t have that dedication, the tradition doesn’t keep going.”

That tradition saw 10 Wadsworth wrestlers reach the finals, with Kagan Squire (125 pounds), Alfredo Gray (130), Chris Baughman (135), Nate Ball (140) and Sheldon Brandenburg (160) joining Tavanello (215) as a champion.

It’s just par for the course for the reigning Division I state champions, who have made a habit of lapping the field at their own tournament.

The 25th rendition was much of the same as Gray became a four-time GIT champion, while Squire, Brandenburg and Tavanello logged their third titles.

Don’t think for a second the GIT doesn’t still mean something to the Grizzlies. Having moved from a holiday tournament to a warm-up just before the postseason starts, Wads-worth takes great pride in performing at its school.

“It’s great to have a tournament in your home gym,” Squire said. “It’s even better when you win it. You feel the energy and want to do it for the fans.”

That energy pushed Gray, while moving the senior into the top 10 in Medina County career wins.

Gray beat Midview’s Josh Ayers 14-4 in the finals to place for the 24th time in a 27-tournament career.

Gray felt no pressure in breaking down his opponent as he picked up his 148th career victory.

That moved him into eighth place in county annals in terms of all-time wins. With 10 more wins, he’ll be in the top five.

“It means I’m a Grizzly,” Gray said. “It’s a great accomplishment. There have been a lot of good teams and good kids that have come through here. This is another step toward a state championship.”

Tavanello made short work of Warren Howland’s Chuck Sayre, pinning him in 78 seconds.

The decking made it a perfect 5-for-5 for Wadsworth, which wrestled out of the first period just once with a quintet of pins.

The showing was the second time Tavanello pinned his way through the GIT, as the junior is 15-0 at the tournament with 14 pins and a technical fall.

“It’s always a big thing to wrestle at home,” Tavanello said. “It’s nice to show everyone how Wadsworth works and we do things.

“The excitement of wrestling at home is great. Not many teams get to wrestle a tournament at home.”

Not many dominate like the Grizzlies do, either.

“It feels good to win here,” Brandenburg said. “I want to help my team in any way possible. My friends and family mean a lot to me.”

So do GIT championships, and the Grizzlies have a trophy case full of them.

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.