July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Matt Hammer walks off with wrestling title

MEDINA — In wrestling — perhaps more than any other sport — momentum can mean a mountain.

When you have it, you feel almost untouchable. When it leaves you, you feel like you can fall into a crack.

Matt Hammer

Medina’s Matt Hammer had it and it led to an individual title in his home gym.

Hammer (138 pounds) became the third Bee to win a Medina Invitational Tournament in the last 16 years (Mike Griffith, 2009, Mark Balog, 1995) and it had everything to do with old “Mo.”

“Momentum turns in to confidence and if you have confidence, you can beat anybody,” Medina coach Chad Gilmore said. “If he keeps this up, he’ll be fun to watch.”

Thursday’s title run started the night before when Hammer beat 2010 state runner-up Mitch Newhouse of Massillon Perry in a 9-4 quarterfinal win.

That brought Michigan state champion Logan Marcicki of Detroit Catholic Central in the semifinals.

The sophomore never had a chance as Hammer put it to the 138-pounder to go up 6-2 into the third.

Unfortunately for the Medina senior and two-time state placer, Marcicki couldn’t finish the match, defaulting out late in the final period.

As if knocking off two state finalists wasn’t enough, Hammer drew returning state placer Max Rohskopf of West Holmes in the finals.

The Knight was on the wrong side of a 6-1 Hammer victory.

Not a bad two-day tournament for Hammer, who now has 124 career victories.

“I’ve wrestled some real tough kids (at this tournament),” Hammer said. “Those wins boost your confidence and help you advance.”

But it wasn’t all Hammer for the Bees as Gilmore’s program continues to grow.

Medina also placed Ryan Hornack (5th, 113), Zach Getto (7th, 120) and Mike Kopacz (8th, 220) to finish 15th in the team race.

“This was a good tournament for Zach Getto,” Gilmore said. “To win some matches and battle through after never winning here before should build his confidence.

“And big Mike Kopacz, for what he’s accomplished in four years, to get on the podium as a senior might be the most special thing of the whole tournament.”

Highland rebounded from a bad second week of the season with strong performances in back-to-back tournaments.

At the MIT, Lazar Vilimonovic (3rd, 160), Adam Kluk (3rd, 182) and James Kunzler (4th, 132) found the podium.

Vilimonovic and Kluk both lost tight semifinal matches but bounced back in the consolation finals. But it was Kunzler who showed the most promise.

A state qualifier in 2009 for the Hornets, Kunzler lost his second round match to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Josh Decatur 6-3 to fall to the back side of the bracket.

The senior then rattled off five straight wins before suffering a 5-3 heartbreaking loss to Massillon Perry’s Isaac Bast.

Tied at three, Kunzler fought numerous attacks by Bast before getting taken down at the buzzer in overtime.

“This is two weeks in a row, he’s done that,” Highland coach Paul Casey said. “I think it’ll boost his confidence and that’s what he needs.

“He has the skill and is the hardest worker in the room. He’s driven. If he can continue this, he’ll succeed.”

Buckeye had placers in Tyler Carrow (Buckeye, 220, 6th) and Jake Thayer (7th, 170).

Medina County picked up another champion in CVCA’s Matt Meadows (220).

The two-time state placer, who lives in Medina, breezed to the finals.

His championship match wasn’t much different as he knocked off Michigan state placer Greg Sebastian with a pin in 3:12.

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