By Dan Gilles
The Rocky River-based West Side Wrestling Club and the North Olmsted Wrestling Club had several wrestlers competing in last Saturday’s USA/Ohio State Qualifying Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling Tournament, which was held at Elyria High School.
After a long day of wrestling, three West Side wrestlers, one North Olmsted wrestler and one Eagle Wrestling Club wrestler who lives in Bay Village finished in the top six in their respective weight classes to advance to the Ohio Juniors state championships May 11-12 back at Elyria High School.
Two other West Side wrestlers and one North Olmsted wrestlers advanced to the Ohio Cadet state championships, which will be held at the same dates and location as the Juniors.
Those who place well at the state tournament can advance to the Nationals at Fargo, N.D., during the summer.
None of the local wrestlers won championships at the qualifier, which drew wrestlers from clubs all over Northern Ohio and even Michigan. Juniors are wrestlers 17-and-under, while Cadets are wrestlers 15-and-under.
Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling is competed and scored a lot differently than standard high school wrestling (or “Folkstyle” wrestling).
In Freestyle, matches are a best-of-three two-minute periods, and the score starts over after each period. Takedowns are only worth one point, wrestlers do not have to compete with headgear, and moves that involve lifting another wrestler totally off his feet are worth five points and end the match immediately. You get big points for exposing your opponent’s back.
In Greco-Roman, you can only wrestle using your upper body. Any touching of the legs or below the waist get penalized. And, like Freestyle, matches are a best-of-three two-minute periods, and the score starts over after each period.
At Junior Freestyle, Jacob Ressler (Lutheran West) and Dan Mahoney (Rocky River) advanced to the state tournament for West Side. Ressler finished fourth in the 100/113-pound weight class, while Mahoney finished third in the 120-pound class.
For North Olmsted, Mustafa Al-Najjar finished sixth in the 220-pound weight class.
Bay Village resident and St. Edward wrestler Markus Scheidel finished second in the 170-pound weight class. His only loss was to champion Tyler Malloy by forfeit.
At Junior Greco, Al-Najjar finished third in the four-man 220-pound class to qualify for the state tournament in both styles. His only win was by pinfall at the 1:10 mark of the second period.
For West Side, Jake Taylor (Fairview) finished tied for sixth with Bryce Williams of the Lorain County Comets to qualify in the 152-pound bracket.
For Cadet Freestyle, West Side’s Aaron Kelly (Rocky River) and Alec Forrer (Midview Middle School) advanced to state. Kelly finished sixth in the 113-pound class, while Forrer took third in the ‘A’ bracket of the 160-pound class.
North Olmsted’s Sam Matzek finished second in the ‘A’ bracket of the 152-pound weight class. His only loss was a 3-1 (4-6, 6-3, 6-0) decision to Wrestling Factory’s Austin Hiles.
The same three wrestlers also qualified in Cadet Greco-Roman.
Kelly took second in the 113-pound weight class, with his only loss a 3-1 (2-0, 3-1) decision to Foxfire’s Joshua Portillo.
Matzek took second in the four-person 152-pound class, with his only loss by pinfall in 53 seconds by Seasons Wrestling Club’s Eric Fasnacht.
Forrer took third in the 160-pound weight class.
This was the last Ohio state qualifying tournament before state. There was another Northeast Ohio qualifier at Copley High School on March 30, and a Northwest Ohio qualifier at Oregon Clay High School on April 6. Several of the wrestlers who competed at last weekend’s tournament also competed at Copley and Oregon Clay.