BROADVIEW HTS. — It’s no surprise to John Gramuglia that his Wadsworth wrestling team enters tonight’s State Team Tournament Regional Final with Brecksville as the underdog.
The Bees have one of the best rosters in the state, including a handful of wrestlers who are projected to win their respective weight classes at the state individual tournament.
Gramuglia’s OK with the low expectations.
“On paper, we do not have the credentials thus far,” Gramuglia said. “It is matches like these and the last few we have had that is giving this team an identity. We have to earn the stripes.
“We are up for the challenge. The Grizzlies might not match up, but we’ll show up.”
Wadsworth is no stranger to be the underdog this season, as it wasn’t expected to keep its Suburban League title streak alive with a roster full of underclassmen.
The Grizzlies (13-1) proved the doubters wrong, however, as they cruised to their 21st consecutive crown and are now one match away from Columbus.
Standing in their way is a Brecksville team led by Austin and Aaron Assad, who are ranked in the top three nationally. The brothers, who wrestle at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively, are projected by various outlets to win state titles.
Brecksville 160-pounder Quintin Hiles (8-0) is also ranked in the state. The Bees also have a solid supporting cast in Grayson Davis (132), Danny Pushpak (170), Troy Lang (182), Josh Murphy (195) and Austin Linden (220), making them a heavy favorite.
Gramuglia knows what Wadsworth has to do.
“In any dual meet, staying away from them building early momentum will be crucial,” Gramuglia said. “Avoiding a pin or tech fall down low will be critical.”
One of the best bouts should come at 138 pounds, when Wadsworth’s Mathias Zollinger squares off against Sonny Lucas for the second time this season.
Lucas won a controversial 4-3 decision in double overtime at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament in December.
Zollinger was initially awarded the win, but referees reversed a call that gave him the 4-3 edge late in the third. Lucas went on to escape from Zollinger’s hold when the match resumed.
The Bees have established a quality program under the direction of coach Todd Haverdill. Brecksville is coming off its eighth straight Southwestern Conference title, along with posting victories at the Beast of the East, Brecksville Holiday Tournament and Bill Dies Memorial.
No matter what happens, Gramuglia is pleased the Grizzlies have a shot at state.
“We are very excited to be part of the new state dual tournament format,” Gramuglia said. “It is only fitting that Wadsworth is representing the first and only public school to win a dual state championship in Division I.
“We only hope for a public school to win it this year as well.”
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