It’s not easy facing the top of Black River’s lineup.
From 106- to 113- to 120-pounds, the trio of lightweight wrestlers Sebastian Vidika, Spencer White and Mike Hozan has dominated the competition and own more trophies this season than can fit in the school’s trophy case.
“This is the first time I have had a trio so close in weight with this much talent,” Pirates coach Corey Kline said. “The guys work out very hard and are driven to push themselves. This in turn makes each of them push each other harder.”
Their combined record of 50-5 this winter says it all.
Vidika and Hozan are coming off of impressive 2011-12 campaigns in which each made trips to the state meet. Vidika missed out of placing by one match and Hozan finished fourth in Division III.
White is looking to make the trip to Columbus this time around. He has been dominating, with the 113-pounders only loss coming to reigning state runner-up Zach Durbin of Mapleton.
“Mike and Bash know what the season is about and what your hard work is worth in the end,” Kline said. “This makes it easy for them to keep pushing forward.
“I think the reason Spencer is working so hard and pushing to better himself is that he missed out last year and will not let that happen again.”
While their dominance on the mat is similar, their personalities are as far apart as they come.
“Bash is very serious about everything and wouldn’t be caught doing anything but working,” Kline said. “Mike is very driven as well, but has a great sense of humor and enjoys a good joke.
“Spencer is all about messing around and having fun. Sometimes I wonder if there is a serious bone in his body.”
A long layoff can be used to drill new moves and rehab from the bumps and bruises suffered in the first half of the season. But there comes a point when you need competition again.
“Break was a little too long,” said Blue Devils coach Mike Koshar, whose team hasn’t competed since Dec. 20. “Twenty-one days between competition and making weight is too much. We spent the time getting healthy, going over some technique, had wrestle offs and had a team dual meet.
“Although we had some good practices, it seemed to get a little stale with 18 practices out of 21 days.”
Brunswick will be back in action tonight when it travels to Stow for a Northeast Ohio Conference River Division tilt.
Wrestling is a sport of brute strength, but the mental part is what separates the good wrestlers from the average ones. Senior Anthony Kisiday is starting to realize that and according to coach Tim Maxworthy is ready for the second half of the season.
“Right now, he’s learning what it takes to do what he wants to do,” the second-year coach said. “He’s starting to learn how to mentally and physically push himself to be where he wants to be at the end of the year.”
The progress of sophomore wrestlers Kyle Fowler and Brandon Nagy has also caught the eye of Maxworthy because of their improvement. Nagy battled hard against state qualifier Mike Hozan of Black River last week in a 6-1 loss.
With a young team, coach Neal Nutter likes it when his upperclassmen — like juniors Ryan Pascal and Jimmy Gess — start leading by the examples they set on the practice mat. The two are drill partners, wrestling at 145 and 160 pounds, respectively.
“This is what I was looking for … someone to step up and be a leader and Jimmy and Ryan were the two that answered the bell,” Nutter said. “They lead us by example and it has showed in their performance.”
Chase Werner has been sidelined since the first week of the regular season with an injury to his ribs. According to Nutter, there is no timetable on when the junior 145-pounder will return. Werner is 4-2.
Sophomore Nick Corvo is making some strides at 182 pounds for the Hornets. With a guy like All-Gazette selection Adam Kluk in the lineup behind him, Corvo has proven to be a point scorer for a young Highland squad.
Coach Paul Casey said Corvo is ahead of the learning curve and put in the time in the offseason.
“Nick notched some matches in the offseason in Greco and Freestyle, which has helped make the difference between having an average vs. a winning season,” he said. “He also works hard in the weight room and is dedicated and disciplined on the gridiron. He is a natural athlete with a great work ethic and positive attitude.”
With state qualifier Shane Bloniak out of the lineup indefinitely due to injury, sophomores Eddie Rininger and Nick Haas both have earned varsity time, battling each other for the vacant 145- and 152-pound spots.
Don’t count Austin Peak out of a match. The Bees’ 182-pounder notched a huge NOC River Division win this past weekend over his opponent from Stow with a little late-match heroics. Trailing in the third period, Peak scored on an escape and then registered a takedown with back points to lock up a 6-3 win.
After having just 13 wins all of last season, heavyweight James Duke has already recorded 17 victories this winter. Duke was one of three Medina wrestlers to make it to the second day of the MIT last month — joining lightweights Danny Gannon (106) and Brandon Gandolf (113) — winning a final-day match and finishing one bout out of placing.
It’s no secret that the Grizzlies have a long tradition of dominate heavyweights. Both 220-pounder Chris George and 285-pounder Daryk Maki have combined to win 38 of their 49 matches this season — and the tandem had some pretty good sparring partners over the holiday break.
“They had to wrestle (former Grizzlies) Nick Tavanello and Jake Crowley over the break and they came in and really encouraged them,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “They were like ‘C’mon guys’ in a motivating way and Tav was showing Chris some moves he can try.
“I think (George and Maki) are starting to realize the tradition of our upper weight wrestlers and they’re starting to feel comfortable.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.