WADSWORTH — Timmy Miller wasn’t sitting in the stands Saturday at the 28th annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament.
Neither were Nick Tavanello, Derek Foore, Brad Squire and Matt Kallai, but you better believe all of those names were on the mind of Wadsworth’s wrestling team as it looked to defend a GIT it last lost in 2000.
When the Grizzlies won the event for the 13th straight time, this version of Wadsworth earned the right to join those names of the past that were part of the current streak the school has run off.
It’s the 19th time the Grizzlies have won the GIT and the 16th in the last 17 years. The win in the 16-team didn’t just come with a stamp — Wadsworth outpaced Oregon Clay by 60 points — it came with a sense of pride as well.
“All the time and effort everyone puts in and the tradition of the program, the guys that won it before us, it’s important to keep that tradition going,” 170-pound first-time champion Tim Knipl said. “It’s putting the same amount of work in that they did. There’s a little bit of pressure. It just motivates you.”
Noah Baughman (106) found that same motivation en route to his second GIT win. So did Clayton Brandenburg (195), who won his first career tournament, according to Grizzlies coach John Gramuglia.
Alex Carrell (182) finished second, Connor Gray (120) and Jordan Schleigh (138) were third and eight other Wadsworth wrestlers finished fourth to stake claim to yet another home tournament title.
“We take a lot of pride in our wrestling program at our school,” Gramuglia said. “It’s our tradition. We build it up. This is a showcase event that we want to show off for our people.
“At the same time, our alumni come back to work and they don’t want to be embarrassed. It’s neat that in this day and age they do care. It’s beautiful. It really is.”
For wrestlers like Baughman, who scored three pins on the way to his 10-5 decision over North Canton Hoover’s Nick Henneman in the finals, the GIT crown is more than just honoring the past.
The sophomore obviously is on pace to become a four-time GIT champion, but Saturday was more about showing his fellow classmates as well as his teammates what being a Wadsworth wrestler is all about.
“The kids have fun here,” Baughman said. “Our wrestlers love wrestling in front of the home crowd. It always means something when you’re wrestling in front of your parents and friends. It definitely means a lot to us.
“It gives us that much of an edge. It’s a chip on our shoulder. It’s kind of like, ‘We want this. We deserve it. We worked hard. It’s ours to go get.’ We’ve been such a successful program. You grow to like it. You like being the top dog.”
The win keeps the Grizzlies’ roll going, as they knocked off Nordonia to finish the Suburban League regular season undefeated. With two wins in the opening round of the state duals and the GIT title, the Grizzlies head into a busy week ready to peak just before the state tournament.
“We’re looking good,” Baughman said. “We’re hoping to open some eyes and get a lot of guys to the state tournament.”
Medina resident Michael Meadows, who wrestles for Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, finished second at 220.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.