July 25, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Five county wrestlers in hunt for titles

COLUMBUS —Medina County wrestlers understood the enormity of what they did Friday at the state tournament.

You bet your singlet, they did.

Wadsworth’s Kagan Squire (125 pounds) and Nick Tavanello (215) reached their second straight Division I final. Teammates Nate Ball (140) and Sheldon Brandenburg (160) exacted revenge from last year to reach the championships as well.

And Medina’s Teddy Hammer (152) became the school’s first finalist since Mark Balog won it all in 1996 — and the school’s fifth wrestler to make the championship match.

“It means a lot,” Hammer said. “It hasn’t all hit me, but this is what I’ve been working hard toward. I’m feeling really good.

“I’ve been telling my dad I wanted to be a state champion since before I can remember.”

So has Squire, who watched his brother Brad win two crowns for the Grizzlies.

The junior kicked off the semifinal festivities with an exciting 4-3 win over Twinsburg’s Mike Labry in criteria overtime.

In that one, Squire was reversed in the third overtime, but reversed Labry back to force an ultimate tiebreaker.

With three seconds left, the junior escaped and will meet Cincinnati Moeller’s Joey Ward in the finals. He’s beaten the Crusader three times this year.

“I’ve been in these close matches before,” Squire said. “You don’t take things for granted. You have to dig down deep and find a way to win. Nobody is going to hand you a state title. It’s as simple as that.”

It was that simple for Ball and Brandenburg as well. While Medina’s Ryan Hornack (103), Highland’s Dan Mirman (135) and Wadsworth’s Alfredo Gray (130) lost their semifinal matches, the Wadsworth tandem was tough. Ball stopped Fairfield’s Austin Sams 6-4, while Brandenburg beat Mayfield three-time state placer Tylan Coleman 4-1.

All that stands in the way of a title for Ball is Massillon Perry’s Zach Dailey. For Brandenburg it will be Lakewood St. Ed-ward’s Domenic Abounader.

“Nate had some losses early in the season, but toughed it out and came around,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “Brandenburg was hurt (he missed the first half of the season with a knee injury), but came back strong.”

Strong doesn’t begin to describe the plight of Hammer, who finished third last week at the Lorain District but came back and manhandled Beavercreek’s Nick Corba in his semifinal match. He’ll have returning state runner-up Mark Martin of St. Edward in the final.

Today’s finals start at 5:45 p.m., but there’s plenty of action early as the placement rounds get under way at 10 a.m.

The area will have 12 state placers in what is yet another banner year.

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