MEDINA — Wadsworth’s Tim Knipl was so excited after his victory Saturday night at the Medina Division I Sectional he went for a celebratory sprint down the hallway underneath the bleachers.
Who could blame the junior? He captured his first career sectional title after finishing runner-up a year ago, and did it with a come-from-behind win over rival Troy Lang of Brecksville.
“It’s nice to get the win because I’ve wrestled him so many times,” said Knipl, who is 4-1 all-time against Lang. “We just go back and forth, and every time I wrestle him I know it’s going to be a battle.”
The 170-pounder turned a 3-1 deficit heading into the final period into a 7-3 victory to be one of 10 Grizzlies to advance to next week’s Cleveland State District and help the team to a second-place finish.
A total of 24 Medina Countians earned district bids after the D-I and D-II finals, with Wadsworth’s Noah Baughman, Robbie Bosley and Alex Carrell and Buckeye’s Eric Bartos and Alex Wilk joining Knipl with titles.
For Knipl, an extra week of practice after Wadsworth’s exit from the state team tournament and his familiarity with Lang helped him rally in the third and close the match.
“We had all week to prepare, and I knew I was going to run across him at some point,” he said. “We knew he was tough on top, so the big thing was just keeping him on bottom and then, through all the movement, I ended up in the scramble position and came out on top. That helped out a lot.”
Speaking of knowing his opponent, Bosley squared off with Nordonia’s Heath Phillibert for the third time this season.
After winning the two previous meetings by decision, the Wadsworth senior found a way to get Phillibert on his back midway through the second period and ended the match by pin in 3:17.
“I had to keep my composure, for sure,” said Bosley, who has captured the last two Medina titles at 152. “I’ve been in that position a lot this year where I’ve had a couple of pins like that coming through the legs and out the back door. So, I’ve been there before and I knew what to do.”
Baughman didn’t let county rival D.J. Skiba of Brunswick get comfortable in the 106-pound final, pinning him in 1:26 for the sophomore’s first district championship, while Carrell made quick work of the Blue Devils’ Mike Bekeny at 182 with eight seconds left in the first period.
Brandon Randolph (113 pounds), Shane Mast (160) and Jeremy Randolph (285) were second to help Wadsworth compile 254 points and finish behind Brecksville (268½). Darrin Gilkerson was third at 126, while Jordan Schleigh and Clayton Brandenburg placed fourth at 138 and 195, respectively.
The other story of the weekend was Buckeye had three wrestlers in the D-II championship round. Bartos and Wilk found a way to win, while Artie Clark was second at 145.
Bartos overcame an opening night in which he had two byes. He won his Saturday semifinal by pin over Fairview’s Allen Tin and then beat Madison’s Mike Baumberger 4-0.
The freshman used a pair of takedowns to hold off Baumberger and found himself in good position for this week’s Bowling Green District.
“I controlled the whole match,” Bartos said. “He wasn’t much of a point-scorer. He fought off every bar and everything I had on him, but I took him down pretty easy at the beginning of every period and (with not wrestling Friday), I thought that I went I lot better than it would.”
Wilk was too much for Gabe Benjamin of Lexington to handle and made his move at the beginning of the second period. Wilk got Benjamin on his back and, after 30 seconds, the Buckeye senior finally got the pin.
“It felt like forever, but as soon as I got that tightened up, I knew it was there and I knew I had the time to get it,” said Wilk, who was a district alternate last season. “I just had to be more intense than him.”
Brunswick has 10 wrestlers advancing to districts this week, but struggled in Saturday night’s evening session. The Blue Devils lost all of their placement matches, including 0-for-7 in title bouts.
In a much-anticipated 120-pound final, sophomore Josh Heil struggled due to a minor knee injury sustained earlier in the week and fell behind early to Brecksville’s Austin Assad before defaulting in the second period.
Skiba, Brett Thomas (126), Nicky Kiussis (132), Christian Camacho (138), Bekeny (182) and Dean Warchak (195) placed second.
While it was a frustrating final round, the goal of the postseason is a simple one: Survive and advance.
“Absolutely, it was a very disappointing round,” Brunswick coach Mike Koshar said. “We’re definitely going to use that as a tool for motivation, and we also know that this is one of the toughest and probably the toughest sectional in the state of Ohio, but it is going to get tougher next week.
“It’s bad that we didn’t have a good round, but the goal is just to move on. Survive this round and get to the next round and we do have 10 guys and that’s the positive.”
Camacho dropped an 11-3 decision to Brecksville standout Sonny Lucas, but was able to find to bright side.
“I’m definitely happy because I did better than last year,” said Camacho, who was fourth at sectionals a year ago. “It didn’t go to way that I want tit to, but I’m going to districts.”
Ethan Rivera (113), Ray Floyd (152) and Aaron Naples (170) took fourth.
Medina sophomore Zach Defraine placed third at 145 to become the first district qualifier for the Bees since 2012. Defraine went 2-1 Saturday and capped it with a 10-0 major decision over Berea-Midpark’s Sam Delashmitt in the third-place bout.
“It feels great,” he said. “This past week, I stepped it up as hard as I could because there’s no second chances, so you have to do the best that you can and not get fourth going into districts.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.