The last time Wadsworth’s wrestling team lost a Suburban League match, the majority of the current Grizzlies roster was in elementary school.
The streak will be on the line tonight when a young Wadsworth team travels to Nordonia where the undefeated squads will duke it out for the regular season title.
While there will be heated bouts in a variety of weight classes featuring state-caliber wrestlers, veteran Grizzlies coach John Gramuglia said the match will come down to the little things.
“We can’t get caught up in the emotion of the match … not easy to do with a young team,” he said. “We need to get bonus points when we can and avoid giving bonus points away. Stay off our backs and not get pinned.”
The last time Wadsworth dropped a SL dual was in 2006 when it fell 31-24 to Highland in a early-season match. The Grizzlies avenged that setback by winning the SL Tournament and since then have been dominate against the league schedule.
Tonight will provide a test, however, as the Knights have several state-ranked wrestlers, including three that are in the top-10 according to ohiowrestlingrankings.com.
All eyes will be on the mat when the 138-pound bout between Wadsworth’s Mathias Zollinger (No. 4) and Mike Decesare (No. 8) takes place. The two met at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament last month with Decesare earning a 6-5 decision.
Nordonia’s other top-10 ranked wrestlers are Tony Decesare (10th, 106 pounds) and Alex Woicehovich (5th, 285). They will face the Grizzlies’ Noah Baughman and Daryk Maki, respectively.
Lost in the attention that the Pirates lightweights gather has been the impressive start by Jake Maund. After winning just 17 matches a year ago, the 182-pounder has notched 15 victories and placed in every weekend tournament.
“I think the only thing in his way is his own confidence,” Black River coach Corey Kline said. “Jake is a fantastic wrestler when he just goes out onto the mat and does his thing. His true potential for this season will be totally up to how bad he wants it.”
For a rookie, Josh Heil has wasted no time proving that he can hang with the big boys. The lightweight, who has lost just one match all season, recorded the biggest victory of his young career this past weekend as the Blue Devils swept St. Ignatius and St. Vincent-St. Mary. Heil moved up to 113 pounds and proceeded to outlast St. Ignatius’ Jimmy Ferritto — who is ranked 8th in D-I according to ohiowrestlingrankings.com — 5-3 in overtime.
While the win is a big one for Heil, his coaches aren’t selling him short.
“We moved him up a weight so that he would get a tougher match,” Brunswick coach Mike Koshar said. “We’re happy that he won, but the goal was to see what we need to work on for the tough matches down the road. Josh did some nice things in that match, but there is also work that needs to be done in the next month if he wants to reach his goal.”
Heading into tonight’s dual with North Royalton, Brunswick remains in the driver’s seat for the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title. The Devils, who last won the division crown five seasons ago, still have to wrestle Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls.
This weekend, the Bucks, Brunswick and Highland will take part in the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament at Firestone.
Simply put, it’s one of the best opportunities for Buckeye to compete in a postseason-like event before the Patriot Athletic Conference Tournament next month.
“It shows the kids where they are at against some of the best competition in their division,” Bucks coach Tim Maxworthy said.
Wrestling starts at 3 p.m. on Friday. Second-day action will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the finals set for 6 p.m. Time Warner Cable will broadcast the Bill Dies Tournament on SportsChannel 311 (1311) Sunday at 8 p.m.
Senior Anthony Kisiday came close to pulling off an upset, but dropped a hard-fought 5-3 decision in overtime to Clyde’s Beau Minnick in the 145-pound championship match at the Dale Carroll Invitational over the weekend. Minnick is currently the eighth best wrestler in D-II, according to ohiowrestlingrankings.com. Teammates Justin Montinaro (5th, 106), Kyle Fowler (6th, 132) and Josh Camper (5th, 220) also placed at the event.
Good things come to those who work hard. Heavyweight Mark Salamon found that out firsthand as the senior won the first tournament of his career this past weekend when he claimed the 285-pound title at the Len Pariano Tournament at Midpark. Salamon won a 2-1 decision over Clearview’s Deion Arnold.
“Marc has really gained some confidence as of late and it is great to see,” Colts coach Neal Nutter said. “Marc is a very nice kid and a joy to have on the team. He works hard and I am glad to see him win his first tournament.”
Fans attending tonight’s dual against Highland will be treated to a night of wrestling as both schools youth teams and middle school squads will take to the mat before the varsity and JV meets. The event starts at 6 p.m. at Cloverleaf.
Sophomore Eddie Rininger picked up his first two career victories this past week and knowing his families history in the Hornets program, the wins could be the first of many. He competed in the absence of the injured Shane Bloniak at 145 pounds. Rininger’s older brothers — Jake and Colin — competed in the last decade. His dad and uncle also were standout wrestlers for the school.
“Eddie has a very impressive set of technical skills that he has built up from youth and has been tested and trained by his brothers over the years,” Hornets coach Paul Casey said. “For him now it’s fine-tuning his skills, cutting down on fundamental mistakes, and strength and conditioning. You will see him compete well at the varsity level.”
Bees coach Chad Gilmore is hoping to have his squad back to full strength when Medina opens the State Team Tournament Wednesday. Matt Hogue (120 pounds), Mark Antonelli (126), Stephen Piatt (132), Zach Defraine (138) and Zach Priebe (152) all missed last weekend’s Bedford Pool Tournament for a variety of reasons.
“Having this many key guys out had a huge effect on our overall team performance,” Gilmore said. “It is hard to win duals and place high at tournaments with so many point scorers out, but it has also made our healthy guys that much stronger. They have showed a warriors attitude, and are fighting hard to continue improving each week.”
Junior James Duke won his first career tournament claiming the 285-pound title at Bedford.
From finishing runner-up at North Canton to a top-5 finish at the rugged Brecksville Holiday Tournament, sophomore Tim Knipl has been impressive. The 182-pounder has lost just five times in 29 bouts entering this week’s action.
Gramuglia was quick to point out that the sky is the limit for the underclassman.
“Tim is much stronger after his offseason dedication in the weight room,” the coach said. “If he stays in better position, he is harder to score on this year.
“Technically he is sounder (than most wrestlers), but needs more technique in all phases of wrestling — top, bottom, neutral — to be a complete wrestler. He has potential to be state placer and future state champ.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.