By Dan Gilles
It was a great sectional tournament for the Bay wrestling team last weekend in the Division II event at Medina High School.
The Rockets had two champions and seven district qualifiers to lead all area schools in both categories. Those totals were also good enough for 154 team points and second-place in the 12-school event.
Bay only trailed Lexington, which compiled 239.5 points to win the team championship.
Brookside finished fifth with 126 points and had six district qualifiers, Rocky River took sixth with 98.5 points and had four district qualifiers, including one sectional champion, and Fairview finished 11th with 54 points and had two district qualifiers.
The Rockets were led by a pair of champions in senior Dom Ruma (160) and junior Matt Beniard (220).
Ruma (36-9) defeated Clearview’s Derrick Foster, 3-2, in the 160-pound finals Saturday, finishing up a 3-0 tournament. He began his journey Friday with a 31-second pinfall over Rocky River’s Travis Smith.
Beniard (32-12) pinned Keystone’s Corbin Chizmadia in 1:59 in the 220-pound finals. He went 3-0 with two pins in the two-day event.
Other placers for Bay included sophomores Vince Zitiello (third, 126), Connor Kloepfer (second, 132) and Nick Kubinski (fourth, 138), junior Cole Kaucheck (fourth, 195) and senior Cody Wright (third, 182).
Zitiello (40-4) defeated Mansfield Madison’s LeConte Merrell, 5-3, in the third-place match. Kloepfer (25-16) was pinned by Mansfield Madison’s Zane Speelman in 4:41 in the finals. Kubinski (30-16) lost to Lexington’s Jon Watkins by major decision, 10-0, in third-place match. Wright (40-7) pinned Mansfield Madison’s Darrin Cox in 1:42 in third-place match. Kaucheck (23-19) lost to Keystone’s Jeremy King, 6-3, in third-place match.
The only other area individual champion was Rocky River sophomore Aaron Kelly. Kelly (28-7) defeated Lexington’s Jonah Schropp, 4-2, in the finals.
Kelly was joined by teammates Brad Sprau (second, 126), Dan Mahoney (fourth, 120) and Jimi Smith (fourth, 170).
Sprau (25-5), a junior, was pinned by Lexington’s Brandon Leynaud in 2:00 in the championship bout.
Mahoney (24-11), a junior, lost to Clear Fork’s Jesse Todd, 5-1, in the third-place match, while Smith (18-16), also a junior, lost to Vermilion’s Aaron Rice, 3-1, in third-place match.
There were a pair of Brookside-Fairview matches for third place on Saturday. Fairview sophomore Tommy Palisin (20-19) defeated Brookside senior Brandon Bellman (25-20), 4-2, in the third-place match at 132. At 145, Cardinals sophomore Anthony Chambers (13-9) pinned Fairview senior Tyler Cain (13-16) in 1:48 for third.
Other district qualifiers for Brookside included freshman Brad Huhn (third, 106), senior Ian Standen (fourth, 152), senior Zach Fries (second, 195) and junior Casey Huhn (fourth, 285).
Fries (37-10) reached the 195-pound finals, but was pinned by Lexington’s Bailey Faust (47-0) in 35 seconds.
Brad Huhn (37-11) defeated Keystone’s Clay Todd, 9-2, in the third-place match, while Standen (35-12) lost to Clear Fork’s Austin Kinzel, 4-2, and Casey Huhn (28-16) lost to Keystone’s Jason Bustance, 6-3, in their respective third-place matches.
All the district qualifiers advance to the Bowling Green District Tournament, which begins Friday. The top four in each weight class will advance to the Division II State Tournament on Feb.27-March 1 at Ohio State.
Division I Lorain Sectional: While St. Edward won the team championship at Lorain High School once again thanks to 253 team points, four individual champions and 13 district qualifiers out of 14 wrestlers, area schools fared pretty well at last weekend’s event.
The Eagles’ four champions – which led the event – were L.J. Bentley (113), Hunter Ladnier (132), Gabe Dzuro (182) and Parker Knapp (220). Dzuro (33-3), a senior, hails from North Olmsted, while Knapp (25-7), a junior, is an Olmsted Falls resident.
Olmsted Falls finished third behind Elyria with 183.5 points and had seven district qualifiers and three champions. Those totals led the true area high schools.
Olmsted Falls’ champions were senior Adam Salti (138), sophomore Brice Locklear (145) and senior Mike Hansinger (170).
Salti (35-9) earned his title with a dominating 12-7 win over Lakewood senior Yassir Abdel-Salam (31-1), who is ranked No. 14 in the state by Intermatwrestling.com’s Josh Lowe.
“Ever since last year when I was a state alternate, I didn’t want to come up short again,” said Salti, who finished second at last year’s sectional. “So I worked hard in the room every day and came up with a sectional title. That’s very important because it’s going to help me in the next round. But I still have to wrestle strong, I still have to wrestle smart. I just knew I didn’t want to have any regrets.
“I have already wrestled most of the kids at districts, so I think I have a good chance to make it to states.”
Locklear (35-10) defeated Elyria’s Darrion Overall by major decision, 10-0, in the finals, while Hansinger (30-8) defeated Elyria’s J.T. Brown, 6-5, to claim his first sectional crown.
Olmsted Falls’ other district qualifiers included sophomore Noel Caraballo (third, 220), senior Jordan Lee (second, 285), freshman Brendan Jones (fourth, 113) and sophomore Tony Caraffi (third, 160).
The area’s other sectional champion was Westlake senior Yousef Mustafa (195), who said Friday night he felt disrespected after being seeded third despite winning the same event last season. Mustafa (32-3) beat No. 2 seed Dennis Breeding of Amherst in the semifinals Saturday morning, then downed top-seeded Adam Kuchta of Lorain, 10-6, in the final.
“Seeds don’t matter,” Mustafa said. “It’s just a bunch of guys in a meeting that put a number by my name … I don’t care. I just went out and did what I thought I could do. I knew (Kuchta) had some big moves in him. So I was being conservative, staying cautious, staying safe … because I wanted to secure this win.”
Mustafa was one of just three district qualifiers for the Demons, which finished tied for 10th with Lakewood with 60 points. The Rangers only had two district qualifiers – Abdel-Salam and Clarence Norris (23-13), who finished fourth at 138.
Other district qualifiers for the Demons included junior Jake Paul (26-6), who finished second at 152, and senior Ahmad Mustafa (28-11), who finished fourth at 285.
The 138-pound class had three area wrestlers qualify for districts. Avon Lake sophomore Joey Bernosky (35-5) lost to Ladnier, 7-4, in the championship, while Avon junior Max Kuchenrither (41-7) beat Norris, 14-7, for third.
Bernosky was one of three sectional runners-up – and three district qualifiers – for the Shoremen, which finished eighth with 80.5 points.
Junior Nick Mayer (31-5) lost to Bentley, 6-2, in the 113-pound finals, while sophomore Zack Klima (32-12) was pinned by Elyria’s Armando Torres in 3:55 in the 120-pound finals.
Kuchenrither was one of four district qualifiers for Avon, which finished sixth with 109.5 points. Also qualifying for the Eagles are sophomore Kolin Carney (fourth, 106), junior Travis Leopold (fourth, 160) and senior Ryan Steinmetz (fourth, 182).
North Ridgeville took seventh with 82.5 points and advanced four to this weekend’s Cleveland State District Tournament – seniors Evan Collier (third, 120), Colin Riley (third, 152) and Ricky Godri (fourth, 170) and junior Talon Dalton (third, 182).
Despite finishing with more points than both Westlake and Lakewood, North Olmsted did not advance any wrestlers to the district tournament.