WELLINGTON — After seven years of dominance at the Patriot Athletic Conference Tournament, Black River and Buckeye’s wrestling teams failed to claim the championship Saturday at Wellington High School.
While red-hot Keystone broke through the logjam atop the PAC for the first time since the conference was formed eight years ago with two individual champions and 155.5 points, both Medina County schools had a number of individuals take home hardware.
Black River, which was sitting a disappointing sixth heading into the final round, used three champions and two runners-up to emerge out of a cluster of seven schools within 17 points of each other to take the runner-up spot with 121 points. The Pirates won the PAC title the first three years the conference existed and four times overall.
Buckeye, the defending champion and three-time conference champ, went 3-for-3 in the championship round to force a tie with Brookside for third place with 119 points. The Bucks had four placers in the top four.
“This was definitely a confidence booster for us,” said junior 113-pounder Spencer White, one of Black River’s three individual champions. “I’m finally wrestling at my weight this year, and that’s really helping a lot, I think. I’ve got great drill partners (in Sebastian Vidika and Mike Hozan). We’ve just got to keep going. This isn’t want we want — we want state places and all that good stuff. This was the first step toward that.”
Vidika got started at 106 with a 17-1 technical fall over Wellington’s Jacob Downs to claim his second PAC championship of his career.
“It feels pretty good, but my goals right now are for the state tournament,” Vidika said. “That’s all that’s on my mind right now. I’d say this was a good warm-up for the postseason.
White followed Vidika with an 8-3 victory over Brooklyn’s Dominic Meehan to claim his first PAC title.
“I’m finally winning some tournaments this year, so to win this one as well is really nice,” White said. “It was a lot different than last year. I took second here last year and third my freshman year, so to get one more step higher here this year was nice. But this isn’t my ultimate goal.”
The match of the finals came at 120 pounds between two-time defending champion Mike Hozan of Black River and Lutheran West’s Tim Mecklenburg.
Hozan trailed 6-2 after one period, but battled back with a stellar second to tie the score at 10 early in the third.
Mecklenburg, a sophomore, got a point for an escape with a minute to go, avoided being taken down or getting pegged for a stalling point and got a takedown just before time expired to come away with the 14-10 victory.
Hozan was aiming to become just the fourth three-time PAC champion. Instead, Mecklenburg was named the PAC’s Most Valuable Wrestler.
Hozan’s loss didn’t dampen a tremendous comeback for the Pirates, who also got a championship out of Ryan Slone (220).
“It would have been nice if Mike would have made it titles for all three of us, but Mecklenburg’s a good opponent,” Vidika said. “Mecklenburg and I wrestled each other in the semifinals here last year — although it should have been the finals — and we had a close match, too. All three of us are really looking more down the line.
“We work hard every day in the room and try to make ourselves better.”
Sloane won his five-man round-robin bracket with three pins and a decision. He pinned Keystone’s Jason Bustance in 1:17 to clinch his title.
Jake Maund took second at 182 pounds after defaulting to Keystone’s Jacob Worthington.
Buckeye’s championships came in back-to-back-to-back weight classes with Artie Clark (145), Anthony Kisiday (152) and Alex Wilk (160).
Clark, a freshman, got the ball rolling with an 8-6 overtime decision over Brookside’s Ian Standen.
“To me, it means a lot,” Clark said. “I’m a freshman, so I hope I can win three more. In middle school, I got two (PAC titles) robbed from me, so this feels really good.”
Kisiday followed his drill partner with a 6-2 win over Clearview’s Derrick Foster to claim his first PAC championship, while Wilk pinned Brookside’s Dan Mize in 3:59.
“I drill with Kisiday a lot, so that helps,” Clark said. “But a lot of that comes from coaching, too. Our coaches are really helpful and get us in the best positions to do well.
“Individually, we did what we had to do. Team-wise, we didn’t have a lot of people here, so that makes it kind of hard. But individually, we did what we could, and that’s all that matters right now because team-wise, we just can’t do it.”
Buckeye’s Stefon Inman defeated Brookside’s Devin French 13-4 in the third-place match at 126.
“I think we could have performed better as a team,” Bucks coach Tim Maxworthy said. “Could we have taken first? Probably not. But I would have liked to have fared better than we did today.”
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