By Richard Doyle
GRANGER TWP. — Wadsworth sent a strong statement to the rest of Ohio on Wednesday in the first round of the Division I state team wrestling tournament.
Under the lose-and-go-home format, the No. 2 seeded Grizzlies sent Medina County rival and seventh-seeded Highland packing with a dominating 57-10 victory.
Next up for Wadsworth is another Suburban League rival, as No. 3 Green downed sixth-seeded Copley 36-28 in the other match. The Grizzlies will meet the Bulldogs on Feb. 6 at a site to be determined, with the winner advancing to take on top-seeded Barberton for a berth in the Sweet 16.
Less than 60 seconds into the Highland match, Wadsworth 106-pounder Noah Baughman got the visiting team on the board with an impressive pin of David McCormick.
“I’ve lost a couple matches, but I keep improving, so things are good,” the freshman said.
The Hornets countered at 113 with a dominating performance from Marko Vilimonovic, who put four points on the scoreboard with a 10-1 major decision.
“He’s a tough kid,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said of Vilimonovic. “He’s a 120-pounder who just moved down to 113, so he’s a lot stronger than most wrestlers in that class.”
While Vilimonovic’s victory garnered praise from the opposing coach, the Grizzlies dominated the rest of the way, winning 11 of the last 12 matches.
Highland’s only other victory came at 195, where rugged Adam Kluk picked up six points after winning by forfeit.
Included in the 11 victories for Wadsworth were pins by Shane Mast, Tim Knipl and Chris George, technical falls by Connor Gray and Robbie Bosley and major decisions by Abdulhabib Abdulhabid and Alex Carrell.
Throw in a forfeit victory by heavyweight Daryk Maki due to an injury sustained by Joe Crowder 30 seconds into their match and it all added up to an impressive win for Wadsworth.
Next up is Green in the round of 64, but Wadsworth will first host its annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament this weekend.
“We aren’t going to worry about Green right now,” Gramuglia said. “We are worried about our GIT matches this weekend. We’ll worry about Green later.”
Contact Richard Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.