On the side of the road to Columbus lie the broken dreams of countless wrestlers. A plethora of area competitors can count themselves among the lucky Saturday at the end of the first leg of the journey to the state tournament.
In Division I, Lakeside, Madison and Riverside combined to advance 21 grapplers from two different sectional tournaments to the Division I district competition next Friday and Saturday at Mentor.
The Division II Lake Catholic sectional was kind to area schools Conneaut, Edgewood, Geneva, Jefferson and Perry, who combined to advance 35 kids to the district tournament next weekend at Alliance.
Grand Valley and Pymatuning Valley were just as successful at the Division III sectional tourney at Beachwood with 16 advancing to the district tournament next weekend at Garfield Heights. Kirtland even contributed, with another area grappler qualifying for the district.
Saturday, the Blue Streaks took their next step in a return to glory, winning the Division I sectional championship for the first time since 2003.
“This has all been part of the plan for the last three or four years,” Madison coach Ryan Wirtzberger said. “They’ve been working extremely hard for it. You’ve got to be proud they’re getting what they have worked so hard for, especially in this sport where nothing is handed out for free.”
The Blue Streaks easily outdistanced Mentor, 240-201.5, and advanced all 12 wrestlers who competed to the district tournament.
“The goal is always to get everyone (to the next level),” Wirtzberger said. “That’s why we train so hard. It was a good night to get one of those banners for our gym.”
The Beavers were third with 153 points.
Six of the seven Madison wrestlers in the championship match won their final bouts and 11 of the 12 who took the mat in the final round claimed victories.
“It’s a lot of fun sitting in that championship chair and coach the boys while they’re winning,” Wirtzberger said. “It was a great experience.”
Claiming those individual titles for Madison were Ryan Montgomery (113 pounds), Jarrad Lasko (120), Nick Montgomery (132), who has now qualified for the district tournament in his third straight season, Bo Ransom (138), Soren Iverson (152) and Josh Ransom (220).
The Beavers had champions in Nick Boggs (126) and Evan Rosborough (195).
Jake Cassidy (182) finished second for the Blue Streaks while Riverside had a runner-up in Jake Denman (145).
Also advancing for Madison were third-place finishers Corbin Post (106), Nick Farnsworth (126), Drew Shiemann (160) and Billy Skerkavich (195). Nick Knight (145) was fourth.
Qualifying all 12 competitors to the district tournament harkens back to those glory days the Blue Streaks are trying to return to.
“Advancing 12 of 12 ties a record we set in 1998,” Wirtzberger said. “We’ve never had all 14 get out. I believe we could have done that this year. My 170-pounder failed the skin test and my heavyweight was two-tenths of a pound below the minimum weight.”
Heading to district for the Beavers will be Connor Rigsby (132), who also claimed third-place, and Chad Ely (160) and heavyweight Khalil Saleh, who were both fourth.
The Dragons qualified three to the Mentor district from the Austintown-Fitch sectional.
Kyle Conel placed second at 195, falling 4-3, to Myles Campbell of Twinsburg in the finals. Heavyweight Chuck Morgan was third and Tyler Newsome was fourth at 113.
Lakeside was 10th with 54 points. Solon won the team title with 216 points.