July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Wrestling: Wadsworth crowns four champs at last GIT

WADSWORTH — They don’t come tougher for Nick Tavanello.

At least they haven’t this year as the two-time state champion from Wadsworth proved himself — not that he had to — in a loaded heavyweight class at Saturday’s Grizzly Invitational Tournament.

Wadsworth heavyweight Nick Tavanello locks up with Mike Brown during the Grizzly Invitational Tournament finals. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

In claiming his fourth GIT title along with teammate Kagan Squire (132), the Grizzlies won their 11th straight crown in the 26-year history of the event.

But Tava-nello’s win was the one people will talk about in the upcoming weeks.

Rarely tested this season, Tavanello ran into a weight class that had a state placer in Sandusky’s Mike Brown and two state qualifiers in Olentangy Liberty’s Luke Fleming and Oregon Clay’s Garrett Gray.

Throw in GlenOak’s Derrick Everett, who is ranked seventh in the Brakeman Report, and 285 was by far the best weight class at the GIT.

Not that Tavanello, who is four wins away from tying 2007 Wadsworth graduate Derek Foore’s Medina County career win mark (170), had much trouble.

He knocked off Everett in the semifinals 2-0 and rode the win to the finals against Brown.

Outweighed by more than 40 pounds, Tavanello showed the quickness that made him a two-time state champion at 215 by taking down Brown with 38 seconds left in the first period.

He scored an early escape in the second period and stayed away from Brown in the third to score a 3-0 win.

“I’m about 95 percent, I still have to work on a few things before the state tournament,” Tavanello said. “This is a huge win. To have kids that are ranked in the top of the state and to be able to top them is awesome.

“I have respect for all of them, but this tournament felt great. It felt good to get this one under my belt.”

It did for Squire as well.

After not placing at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament — he defaulted out with an injury — and narrowly missing the podium at the Walsh Ironman, Squire needed a big win. He got it by beating Clay’s Jacob Conine 9-3 in the finals.

It marked the 162nd win of Squire’s career, moving him into fifth place on the all-time career list, as he joined teammates Tavanello, Chris Baughman (145) and Cody Gordon (152) as champions.

“This gives us more confidence moving forward,” Squire said. “Clay’s a good team, so beating them was nice.”

It was equally as nice for Gordon, who has lingered in his state champion brother’s shadow for a while.

But three big wins at the Division I State Duals and a victory at the GIT have put the senior in good company.

“It’s sweet,” Cody said. “It shows how far our team has come since Brecksville.

“It’s great since this is the last year in this gym before it gets torn down. It’ll never be the same, but will always be fun to look back on.”

With only a dual against Walsh Jesuit on Thursday remaining in the gym for the Grizzlies, Wadsworth appears to be heading into the stretch run, clicking on all cylinders.

“This one means a lot,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “We want to win the GIT and the Suburban League. There are some great memories in this gym. They didn’t want to let those memories down by losing the last one here.”