With seven freshmen competing, Medina’s wrestling team is one of the youngest around.
But Bees coach Chad Gilmore has done this before when he took over the program a decade ago. Since then, he has led Medina to a handful of Northeast Ohio Conference River Division titles and has had plenty of state placers.
The veteran coach looks to do the same thing with a squad that not only has seven rookies, but a sophomore, three juniors and three seniors in the lineup.
Medina found out exactly where it stands at this point at the prestigious Medina Invitational Tournament held last weekend. Three Medina wrestlers advanced to the second day of competition, with one making the podium.
“We’re going to have some growing pains,” Gilmore said. “We have a lot of new faces in the lineup and this was their first real big test of national-level competition.
“We saw where our weaknesses are and this will be a great building ground.”
Freshman Brandon Gandolf placed eighth overall at 113 pounds, while freshman Danny Gannon (106) and senior James Duke (285) advanced to second-day competition.
Duke won his first consolation match before losing to eventual sixth-place finisher Adam Quick of Mason.
“It’s a great start for (Brandon). Great for his confidence,” Gilmore said. “Danny was right in the mix, but fell a little short and James Duke lost a close match (to place) and is recognizing his mistakes.”
Mike Hozan and Sebastian Vidika established themselves as two of the top lightweight wrestlers in the area last season earning trips to Columbus.
Junior Spencer White wants to join them. White is well on his way. After wrestling at 120 a year ago, he is now competing at 113 and has just one loss through three tournaments.
How good has White been?
He rolled through the competition en route to titles at the Hillsdale and J.B. Firestone Invitationals and had a streak of 11 straight wins going until the title bout during last weekend’s 32-team Marion Harding Classic. White lost 8-1 to Mapleton’s Zach Durbin — the reigning D-III state runner-up in the Marion event.
The Blue Devils have been off since matches with Medina and Lakewood on Dec. 20. Coach Mike Koshar’s team won’t return to action until next Thursday when Brunswick visits Stow for a key NEO River match.
The Bucks hope to begin another march towards a Patriot Athletic Conference championship tonight when they open the dual-meet schedule in a triangular at Black River with Brookside and Firelands.
• Senior Anthony Kisiday and sophomore Brandon Nagy advanced to the second-day of competition at the MIT. Kisiday (145) lost to eventual tournament runner-up Max Rohskopf of West Holmes in the championship round, before earning a spot in Saturday’s competition with a pin of Brice Locklear of Olmsted Falls.
Nagy faced a brutal bracket with the likes of state champions Nathan Tomasello of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and David Bavery of Perry, but earned a 3-0 victory over Pickerington North’s Josh Snyder in the consolation bracket to earn the second-day appearance.
Marc Heidelman has come a long way in a year’s time. Last winter, the now-junior was rehabbing from an elbow injury that sidelined him the entire season.
Now, the Colt is off to a 20-2 start with his lone setbacks coming at the MIT. After dropping a championship bracket bout to Bedford’s Shawn Williams — who eventually finished second overall — Heidelman won a pair of matches by decision in the consolation rounds, before suffering a tough 10-8 loss to Hilliard Darby’s Jake Donatelli.
Hornets coach Paul Casey describes senior Tom Gabyak’s success this season as a “crash course” to get ready for March.
Gabyak is passing the course. He finished seventh at the MIT, thanks to a pin of Lancaster’s Ethan Bond.
“I’m not sure if Thomas realizes what seventh-place here means,” Casey said. “This is high-level competition, so that really puts him up there. I know he wanted to finish higher.
“He’s still making some small errors, but I think he’s smart enough to make those small corrections.”
What might have been most impressive with Gandolf’s eighth-place finish at the MIT is that he did it with a bad right knee.
While the injury is still plaguing the freshman, Gandolf notched some big wins en route to making it to the podium at one of the top tournaments in the state.
And while the knee is far from 100 percent, the feeling of placing high takes some of the pain away.
“The other one is starting to hurt now, too,” he said. “I just have to ice all the time, before and after my matches.
“The goal is to get to state. I have to work harder in practice and do a lot more … just try and get better and better.”
Fans can never say that the Grizzlies are afraid of a tough schedule. Despite fielding a young squad this winter, Wadsworth is ready to meet St. Edward, a program that is currently ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the country, in a triangular Saturday at the Lakewood-area private school.
Claymont battles Walsh Jesuit in the other half of the event. The winners will face each other in the other match, with the losers doing the same. Starting time is 2 p.m.
• Against a stacked field at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, the Grizzlies walked away with four placers as Tim Knipl (182, 5th), Noah Baughman
(106, 6th), Daryk Maki (285, 7th) and Shane Mast (160, 8th) all earned spots on the podium.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.