By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
PERRY TOWNSHIP —
Wrestling all the way through, whether it be the point, the period or the match, will always pay dividends.
That was true in every case as Perry defeated Jefferson, 81-0, and West Branch, 46-16, in the opening rounds of the State Dual Tournament on Wednesday at Spectator Gymnasium.
“We stress to keep wrestling to score points,” Perry coach Dave Rowan said. “We don’t want them to be satisfied with a 3-1 or 3-2 lead. Ultimately, that leads to pins. For the most part, that’s what we want to do.”
Perry won 5 of the first 7 bouts and 8 of the first 11 as Kyle Kremiller secured the team victory following a major decision, 15-3, over Aaron Mohr at 195 pounds.
The Pirates will take part in the regional tournament Wednesday. The matchups and location are yet to be determined.
Aaran Gessic (132), Geoffrey Gideon (138) and Evan Schenk (152) all scored pins in a 4-match stretch in the middle of the lineup to stake Perry to a 24-6 lead through the first 5 weight classes.
Gessic scored a second-period takedown of the Warriors’ Matt Steer, then turned him to his back. He completed the pin in 2:32. Gideon did the same thing at 138, securing the pin of Cody Learn in 3:06. A reversal of Colton Brown led to Schenk’s pin in 3:37.
“We came here to wrestle,” Rowan said. “We weren’t here to get a takedown then hang out. Our lower weights scored us a lot of points to take the pressure of the bigger guys.”
After a West Branch pin at 160, Alec Schenk returned the favor, sticking Logan Nagy in 1:18 at 170. With 1:08 remaining in the third and final period, the Pirates’ Seth Cales netted a takedown of Adam Wilke to take a 3-1 advantage at 182. Wilke later escaped, but it was too late too late in a 3-2 Cales victory.
“The light weights performed well,” Rowan said. “Like I said, they took the pressure off the heavyweights. Those heavyweights were able to wrestle hard and not worry about the team winning or losing.”
Kremiller put the nails in the coffin with a 15-3 major decision at 195.
Brandon Truhn picked up his 8th pin in his last 10 matches at 220 and Billy Miller won a 7-5 major decision over Logan Sharp at heavyweight.
“Those two guys (Miller and Sharp) expect to see each other in Columbus,” West Branch coach Jason Brown said. “They’re both tough, work hard in the wrestling room and bring their A game. They hope to see each other again in the finals.”
West Branch’s Alec Schopfer closed the match with an 11-2 major decision at 106.
Perry’s Brady Toth opened the match with a thrilling 5-3 overtime win over Justin Mitchell. First, Toth scored a takedown just before the first-period buzzer for a 2-0 lead. Mitchell chose down to start the third period before escaping and netting a takedown for the 3-2 lead. Toth promptly escaped to send the bout to overtime where he scored a takedown with 39 seconds left.
“I’m proud of Justin Mitchell,” Brown said. “He wrestled a tough match and lost in overtime. He’s a 106-pounder so he’s giving up weight. He’ll come back strong.”
Collin Dees followed with a 5-point move in the final 25 seconds for a 6-1 decision.
In shutting out the Falcons, the Pirates won by close to the maximum possible (84-0). Jefferson forfeited 7 weight classes.
Sam Cales (126), Mrosko (160), Truhn (220) and Miller (heavyweight) all scored pins. Gessic (132), Gideon (138) and Evan Schenk (152) all won on technical falls.
“They’re a very good team,” Jefferson coach Tom Avsec said. “As you know, this year is a down year for us plus we had the seven forfeits. Our good guys couldn’t even do anything.
“Everything has come together for (Perry) the last couple of years. They just had a great group of kids and everyone is jelling. Things are going great for them. They were second in the state last year behind St. Paris Graham.”
The Falcons got an up-close-and-personal look at what dedication to the sport can mean.
“We were at the Dies Tournament last weekend and there were state champs all over the place,” Avsec said. “We were up against the best guys.
“If it were me and I were a 9th-grader, I’d tell myself this was the type of wrestler I’d have to compete with to get to state. They can go home in March and sleep or they can put the work in.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.