By Dan Gilles
Westlake had a fine showing at the 38th Annual Columbia Invitational Wrestling Tournament Saturday.
However, Western Reserve was just that much better.
Westlake, last year’s champion, had two individual champions and nine overall placers to claim second place with 133.5 points. However, the Roughriders, with six individual champions and 11 overall placers, claimed the team championship with 194 points.
“It was a good way to start the New Year,” Westlake coach Mike Antonyzyn said. “Western Reserve has a nice team. They’ve got a really nice team, and they showed that today. But overall, we’re pleased.
“It was a nice little tournament for us. It’s something that will help our kids make that next step. We just need to be a little bit more aggressive. That’s what it’s all about. But they’re working hard, and I’m pleased.”
Olmsted Falls, which sent its B team to the 12-team tournament, had four placers (all no higher than third) and finished eighth with 65 points. Fairview, with three placers and one finalist, finished ninth with 49.
Lakewood, which also sent its B team to the tourney, took 11th out of 12 teams with just three team points. Only a scoreless Oberlin squad prevented the Rangers from finishing last.
The two Demon champions were juniors Logan Paul (160) and Nader Shouman (195).
“We’re really a young team, and I thought our kids performed really well,” Antonyzyn said. “Our 126-pounder, Mo Farraj, dislocated his shoulder (earlier this season) and he’s still out, and he’s got one of the best records on our team. And we didn’t bring our 152-pounder with us today – he’s at another little tournament.
“So, in spite of all of that, I think we did all right.”
Paul (24-6) went 3-0 with a pin to claim his first Columbia Tournament title. He defeated the top seed, Elyria Catholic’s Luther Washington (17-2), 12-6, in the finals.
Paul pinned Olmsted Falls’ Tim May in 45 seconds and followed that with a 6-4 win over Midview’s Zack Frambach – the eventual third-place finisher – in the semifinals.
“It definitely feels good,” Paul said. “I felt like this tournament was a big hurdle for me, since last year, I reached the championship match but lost by one point. It just really felt good to come in first.
“I was confident in my abilities, but (Washington) was the top seed, so I knew I was the underdog. I stayed confident in myself and I felt good about it.”
Antonyzyn singled out Paul’s performance.
“I thought Paul’s match was the best match of the night,” he said. “Both his semifinals and finals matches were as exciting as they come, and I’m proud of the way he performed tonight.”
Shouman (15-12) went 3-0 with two pins to claim his first championship. He edged Western Reserve’s Brandon Workman, 8-5, in the finals.
Shouman pinned Columbia’s Ozzie Gossick – the eventual fourth-place finisher – in 5:08 and followed that by pinning Cleveland Central Catholic’s Caleb Pope in 1:22 in the semifinals.
Andrew Spreng (113) also reached the championship match. However, the 18-11 senior lost to Cuyahoga Heights’ Nate Frye, 7-2, in the finals.
“Andrew Spreng wrestled a really good kid from Cuyahoga Heights, and I think he wrestled him last year as well,” Antonyzyn said. “He still lost to him, but I think the score was closer this time around. That’s an improvement, and we live up to our motto, ‘Better today than you were yesterday.’”
Sophomore Ismeal Shafei (16-9) was one of only three wrestlers competing in the 285-pound bracket. Shafei pinned Midview’s Mitch Hasman in 1:55, but was pinned in 1:10 by Western Reserve’s Ravyn Workman to claim second place.
The Demons had five other wrestlers reach the consolation finals. Of those five, only 138-pounder Josh Pappas was victorious. He won by default when Western Reserve’s Jake Ruppert suffered a shoulder injury during their third-place match and could not continue.
Zach Goodman (106), Vincenzo Marinucci (170), Asam Zayed (182) and Nasser Muntaser (220) all finished in fourth place in their respective weight classes.
Marinucci had the tables turned on him during his finals match with Columbia’s Josh Clouse. Marinucci had scored an 18-3 technical fall over Clouse in the first round. However, Clouse pinned Marinucci in 3:30 to gain his redemption.
“Our upper weights are starting to come around,” Antonyzyn said. “We’re really, really young. But the more experience they get, the better they’ll become, and that’s the goal in tournaments like this one. Overall, I’m happy.”
Fairview’s lone finalist, 106-pounder Matt Wallace, was edged, 4-3, by Orr in the championship. Wallace (26-5), the top seed in his bracket, pinned Elyria Catholic’s Jose Gracia in 5:26 to reach the championship match.
However, Tyler Keating (182) and Kevin Thomas (192) salvaged Fairview’s final round with back-to-back third-place victories. Keating defeated Zayed, 6-3, while Thomas edged Gossick, 1-0.
Olmsted Falls went 3-1 in its third-place matches last Saturday, with David Rivera’s (120) pinfall loss to Avon Lake’s Adam Graehling in 1:55 the lone blemish.
Mitchell Dailey (125), L.J. Yurick (132) and Austin Balnius (145) all claimed third-place medals. Dailey pinned EC’s Sean Kilbane in 1:51 and Yurick scored a 12-0 major decision over Columbia’s Connor Jenny, while Balnius pinned Western Reserve’s Josh Sommers in 2:01.