By Ryan Kaczmarski
The LUTHERAN WEST High School student body was treated to an assembly of a unique kind. They were dismissed from classes at 2 p.m. on Friday to watch the defending Patriot Athletic Conference champion Longhorns wrestling team open its season by defeating Fairview 36-22.
“This is the first time we have ever done this, and I think it was a lot of fun,” said Lutheran West athletic director Joel Gesch. “The kids were looking forward to it, and probably a lot of them have never seen a varsity wrestling match before.
“We went to Fairview last year and did it (the matinee match) and had a great time,” he added. “We were happy to do it here, too.”
The Longhorns scored first on a Tim Mecklenburg pin, just 40 seconds into the first match, to go up 6-0, and led for the rest of the afternoon.
“Tim did an awesome job getting that pin,” said Longhorns head coach Dave Ressler. “That just got the crowd going, and they just never stopped the whole match.
“It was a great event for us, not only to get the win, but our guys just fought really hard,” Ressler added. “We gave up no pins and had four pins for ourselves and that was the difference in the match. Last year we went over there (to Fairview), and their crowd was loud, it was a close match – we lost by seven – and the crowd had a lot to do with it. This year, we told our student body to be loud, be the ‘15th man’ for us, and that paid off.”
The results were as follows: 106 Tim Mecklenburg (LW, pin) Matt Wallace :40, 113 Xavier Leadingham (F, dec.) Elijah Mooneyham 6-4 OT, 120 Bryce Deblock (LW, pin) Brendan Kilbane :23, 126 Ben Kost (F, dec.) Carter Deblock 7-3, 132 Ryan Rusnak (LW, pin) Tyler Cain :12, 138 Mahmoud Awad (F, dec.) Izaak Zrnich 3-2, 145 Chance Huey (LW, pin) Jacob Taylor :28, 152 Gevin Maxwell (LW, forfeit), 160 Mitch Minnich (F, major decision) Ryan Moore 13-3, 170 Wilfredo Lopez (F, dec.) C.J. McNamee 9-6, 182 Tyler Keating (F, dec.) Andrew Liese 8-6, 195 Kevin Thomas (F, dec.) Gabriel Petkac 4-2, 220 Kristian Bremer (LW, forfeit), 285 Double Forfeit.
The leaders on the Lutheran West team are Rusnak, Deblock, Liese and Mecklenburg. Mecklenburg is a freshman who had over 30 wins in junior high last year.
“This team has a good work ethic and is willing to work hard to improve during the season,” Ressler said.
FAIRVIEW is competing in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes division for the first time this year. They are a smaller team, with only 19 members.
“Those kids are committed to the sport of wresting and are working hard,” said Warriors head coach Dave LeBrun.
The returning seniors on the team are Wallace, Awad and Thomas. The juniors the team is looking to for big contributions are Keating, Lopez, Minnich and Kost.
NORTH OLMSTED is returning a team that has only lost three seniors from last season.
The Eagles are looking to senior Brian Brunner, who was 32-6 and fifth at districts last year, for team leadership. The other key returning lettermen are senior Kyle Biggs and juniors Ricky Kelley, Alex Belaia and Adel Showman.
Eagles head coach Kerry McWoodson has the philosophy, “You have to wrestle the best to be the best.” They will start off the season at the Solon Comet Classic tournament and participate in the Kenston Invitational right after Christmas.
“We have a very close-knit group,” said Cheron Kelly, a North Olmsted wrestling representative. “We pride ourselves in being a big family, and family protects their own. We support each other on and off the mat.
“We lack in heavier weights and have to shift some guys around to cover weight (classes),” she added. “Our team is growing, and it’s nice to have multiple athletes at prospective weight classes.”
BAY is bringing back a squad that only lost two seniors from last year. The team had a record of 9-7 overall and a 3-4 record in the West Shore Conference.
“We put a lot of younger wresters in some tough situations, but they all accepted the challenge and are better this year because of it,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Cover.
The key wrestlers on this year’s team are Ben Tepper, Adam Tepper, Matt Spies, Max Langer, Joe Kubinski, Dominic Ruma, Cody Wright, Sean Meaney, David Klein, Steve Liljeberg, Habbakuh Woodruff and Steve Burns.
“The core of our team has been together for a few years now, and have paid their dues,” Cover said. “Many of them were thrown into the varsity lineup as freshmen and learned the hard way.
“Even though we only have two seniors on the roster, we are probably one of the most experienced teams in the WSC,” he added.
Last year ROCKY RIVER had a record of 4-3 in the WSC. The 2010-11 squad had good numbers and depth, but battled through injuries all season.
The key returning wrestlers are Austin Suarez, Jesse Singler, Pat Gallagher and Enli Hamzai.
“No one has proven themselves to be able to compete at a high level of consistency,” said Pirates head coach Eric Toukkola. “As always, we want to win the conference, compete well in duals and develop strong tournament wrestlers.”
WESTLAKE is looking to improve on last year’s Southwestern Conference record of 5-2. The returning letter winners are Zach Goodman, Moe Farraj, Andrew Spreng, Kevin Kruger, Sal Grillo, Logan Paul, Vinny Marinucci and Alex Busser.
“Our strengths are our leadership, very coachable kids, good number of wrestlers in the room and we also have a great freshman class,” said Demons head coach Mike Antonyzyn. “We also have a great coaching staff.”
The team leaders, Spreng, Farraj and Marinucci, all have four years of high school wrestling experience.
“They all have the three D’s – dedication, determination and desire,” Antonyzyn said. “Our main goal for the year follows our motto, ‘Better today, than yesterday.’”
OLMSTED FALLS will try to equal or better its 2010-11 season, in which the team had an overall record of 18-1 and won the Findlay Duals, Hudson Duals and the New Albany Duals tournaments, and placed runner-up in the SWC.
The top returners are Chase DuPratt, Nick Asadorian, Alex Bevilacqua, Scott Ahern, Kyle Kokitka, Brian Slater, Nick Sommer, David Rivera, L.J. Yurick, Rich Rader, Travis Devericks, David Lance, Adam Salti, Michael Hansinger and Jordan Lee.
“A lot of our boys are returning after being in the lineup for multiple years,” said Bulldogs head coach Bill McGrain, who is in his 27th year at the helm. “The kids know how to win and they work hard.
“There are high expectations in our room this year, as the kids are looking forward to our challenging schedule,” McGrain added. “The work ethic in our room is fun to watch.”