MACEDONIA — The Nordonia wrestling team came into Thursday’s Suburban League finale with thoughts of knocking off the champion.
Daryk Maki and Wadsworth weren’t going to let that happen.
The Grizzlies maintained a lead and held off a Knights rally to win the SL regular season title with a 31-22 victory.
“Everybody just had a job they needed to do,” senior Mathais Zollinger said. “We had young guys that needed to step and everybody did they part.
Everybody came together as a team.”
Maki put a bold-faced exclamation point on a sixth straight regular-season championship for Wadsworth (12-1, 7-0), as well as its 48th straight SL triumph.
After Nordonia (15-2, 6-1) pulled within 25-22 via a major decision by Eric Claren at 182 pounds and a pin from Alex Woicehovich at 220, Maki was on center stage.
“It was exciting,” Maki said. “I had to make sure I didn’t lose my cool because I didn’t want to lose any team points. I knew it was going to be close.”
With the majority of a packed gym on its feet, the 285-pounder needed just 22 seconds to pin Brandon Rem.
He did it with his trademark bear hug.
“All the kids I’ve wrestled so far this year know what my move is, so it was rather difficult to get it, but I got it,” Maki said. “That’s how I like it — quick and easy.
“We worked hard all week and we knew that we weren’t going to come in here and it was going to be easy, but we all worked hard and it just paid off.”
But how did he really feel?
“It was awesome,” he said with a smile. “I wanted to scream, but I didn’t because I promised my coach I wouldn’t, but it was probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”
Early on, the Grizzlies were able to keep the Knights off their backs as underclassmen and saavy veterans alike picked up key wins.
Noah Baughman (106) and Zollinger (138) were able to avenge early-season losses with wins by decision.
Baughman held on for a 4-3 win over Tony DeCesare in the opening bout, while Zollinger stormed to a 7-0 lead on Mike DeCesare en route to an 8-3 victory.
“I just wanted to go out and wrestle the best I could,” the modest Zollinger said. “I could tell he was kind of loosening up a bit, so a little shot there and go him there at the edge for a quick lead.”
Connor Gray (120 pounds), Darrin Gilkerson (126), Robbie Bosley (152), Shane Mast (160) and Timmy Knipl (170) also picked up wins. Bosley and Knipl were dominating in their respective matches, winning by major decision and pin.
Gilkerson, a freshman, caught the attention of the crowd when he grinded out an efficient 3-0 win over Trevon Berry with an escape and a late reversal.
“He’s very confident, and he’s one of those kids that I think is just going to keep getting better and better each match,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said of Gilkerson. “He doesn’t realize how good he is.”
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