The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


February 21, 2014

Matmen one step away

Locals have an eye on Columbus

Wrestlers looking to qualify for the Ohio State Wrestling Championships are halfway to the Promised Land with sectional tournaments in the rearview mirror.

Last weekend’s events were just the base of the mountain, however. Starting this afternoon, those who were strong enough to qualify for their respective district events will face their toughest tests yet with elation or heartbreak the only two emotions waiting for them at the end of the ride.

There are a number of intriguing storylines to follow through the weekend in all three divisions.

In Division I, Lakeside senior Kyle Conel continues his pursuit of the one championship that has eluded him thus far in his storied career.

Madison coach Ryan Wirtzberger looks to qualify a strong contingent from his runner-up team at the South sectional and Riverside has a number of podium hopefuls after taking a number of individual titles.

In Division II, Perry qualified most of its entire team in cruising to the team championship at the Lake Catholic sectional, but beyond that, has a number of individuals seeking not only district titles, but state championships, as well.

Heavyweight Billy Miller and 132-pounder Aaran Gessic are just two of the Pirates with legitimate title hopes.

Edgewood’s Tanner Perry fought his way to the top of the podium at Lake Catholic over the weekend and is looking to continue the roll right on into Columbus and 145-pounder Tyler Cross of Geneva, who won a sectional crown is trying to extend his senior season as long as possible.

Glenn Zaller of Grand Valley is no stranger to the state tournament, having made two appearances there already. This time around, Zaller is not only looking to qualify, but set himself up with a draw in Columbus that ends with his being on the top of the podium at 195.

Then there is the matter of the Pymatuning Valley Lakers, who were fifth as a team at Beachwood last weekend. Cody Miller has amassed a lot of victories over the last four seasons and wants nothing more than end his ride in the electric environment of the state championships. It’s a safe bet that both Zaller and Miller would enjoy the trip more with a teammate or two at their sides.


Division I

The Dragons, Blue Streaks and Beavers will be the last of the area wrestlers to get things going when the Mentor District Tournament kicks off today at 5 p.m.

Being the lightest qualifier, Madison 106-pounder Corbin Post (21-9) will be the first to take the mat when he battles Aaron Cintron (25-5) of Parma Normandy.

Teammate Chris Sines (20-16), a freshman, will follow shortly after when he duels with Jake Newhouse (34-8) of Massillon Perry at 120. Tyler Newsome (35-9) will be the first Dragon on the mat when he shakes hands with Andre Stowers (33-3) of Maple Heights, also in the 120-pound division.

Jarrad Lasko (27-5), the South sectional champ at 126 for Madison, will begin with a batte against Spencer Haught (17-13) of Walsh Jesuit. Premier Athletic Conference rival Zach Van Pelt (20-18) of Riverside is also in the field and will have to beat Andrew Wallace (25-5) of Kent Roosevelt in his first match.

The Beavers’ Nick Boggs (38-2) claimed the 132-pound title at South and is a favorite to reach Columbus. His weekend begins with a matchup against Jake Evanich (23-17) of North Canton Hoover.

Blue Streak Ryan Montgomery (22-4), who won his sectional, has been no stranger to the state tournament and his quest to return at 138 pounds starts with a bout against Cal Miller (22-14) of St. Ignatius. Teammate Bo Ransom (36-2) also claimed the sectional championship and will begin his tourney against Kevin Anderson (24-16) of Bedford. Nick Farnsworth (22-7), who was second a week ago for Madison, will take on Anthony Mancini (29-13) of Boardman at 152.

Austin Van Pelt (17-17) of Riverside will face Tony Dailey (36-3) of Massillon Perry in his first match while teammate Jack McKeon (5-7) will take on Craig Sloan (35-3) of Garfield Heights. Freshman Mike Coup (30-15) is also in the field at 170 after placing third a week ago. His first test be Mike Barrow (33-2) of New Phildelphia.

An interesting man to watch at 182 pounds will be the Beavers’ Connor Rigsby (30-8), who was the champion at South and has high aspirations for Columbus. He begins that pursuit against Trey Sommers (33-10) of Lake.

Conel, who remains unbeaten (45-0) at 195 pounds will face his first test in the form of James Singleton (21-17) of Cleveland John Adams. He is joined in the field by PAC rivals Drew Schiemann of Madison and Chad Ely of Riverside. Schiemann (26-10) won the South title and will take on Jeff SanMartino (13-14) of Solon. Schiemann and Conel could meet in the championship semifinals with two wins each. Ely (23-9), the runner-up at South, is on the other end of the bracket and will face A.J. Suchovsky (24-16) of Aurora.

Riverside’s Nick Denman (9-5) will square off with Marquise Copeland (40-2) of Bedford at 220 with teammate Jake Militello (15-13) starting against Ron Shadd (18-16) of Austintown Fitch at heavyweight. Madison’s Marcus Kee (7-12) is also in the field and will take on Staci Wilson (29-8) of Solon.


Division II

Perry’s Brady Toth (27-14) could well be the area’s first competitor on the mat as the Alliance District Tournament starts at 3 p.m. The 106-pounder, who claimed the first of the Pirates’ eight sectional crowns, is slated to match up with Nathaniel Stubblefield of Sprigfield.

Geneva’s Will Distler (25-10), who was the runner-up to Toth at Lake Catholic, is slated to kick off against Lukus Stricker of Akron Hoban on the other end of the bracket.

Perry (27-13) topped Geneva’s Connor Requa in a 10-7 decision for the title at Lake Catholic and will begin his weekend against Connor Hurst of Benedictine. Requa (19-19) has Austin Zarins of Brooklyn to begin.

Not to be forgotten, Vince Nolan (8-18) of Conneaut, who was fourth at Lake Catholic, will battle Eli Yoho of Columbia Woodridge. Nolan and Perry could meet up in the semifinals with two wins apiece.

Collins Dees (32-8), another champion for Perry a week ago, has Noah Zupancic of Norton in the first round at 120. Isaiah Ngiraingas (22-11) of Conneaut will begin with Ryan Lambert of Canton South with an eye toward meeting Dees in the finals.

Freshman Sam Cales of Perry is the lone local in the field at 126. At 3-2, he will face Joe Koontz of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Another field crowded with locals is the 132-pound weight class. The Pirates’ Aaran Gessic beat Jefferson’s Joey Baitt, 6-1, to claim the sectional crown while Justin Mason of Conneaut fought to a fourth-place finish.

Gessic and Baitt could see each other in the finals yet again. Mason could see Gessic in the semifinals.

Gessic (37-5) opens with Alan O’Brien of Beloit West Branch, Baitt (40-5) starts with Brett Bailkey of Southeast and Mason (23-14) has Connor Nemec of Crestwood.

Josh Romano (28-13) of Perry will face C.J. Frost of Canfield at 138.

Cross (32-5) opens his tournament for the Eagles against Dan Amato of Tallmadge at 145 while Perry’s Nick Sbrocco (22-19) has Colin Hagenbush of Norton. Also in the field is Jacob Cardona (14-13) of Edgewood who will face Zack Lake of Akron Coventry. Cardona and Cross could duke it out in a semifinal.

Freshman Evan Schenk was the champ at 152 last week for Perry. He will take his 23-12 record into a fight with Eric Fasnacht of Parma Padua-Franciscan. At 160, Cameron Winters of Perry and Zach Collins of Jefferson both qualified out of Mentor. Winters (27-6) has Mason Hughes of West Branch in the opening round while Collins (30-12) has Jordan Radich of Howland.

The Eagles’ Juan Rodriguez (19-27) is the lone area competitor at 170 and will face Zeck Lehman of Revere.

In the next four weight classes, the Pirates claimed sectional championships. Alec Schenk (35-5) will open with Marquesz Franks of Akron Kenmore at 182, Kyle Kremiller (30-8) will face Jaret Bunch of Canfield at 195 and Miller, also unbeaten at 36-0, has Jarred Webb of Marlington. Brandon Truhn (30-10), who toiled behind Miller at heavyweight the last three seasons, dropped to 220 and will battle Tim Fitzwater of Northwest.  

James Hawk (23-9) of Geneva will look to reach the finals at 220 where he will could meet Truhn and have the opportunity to avenge a loss in the sectional championship match. Hawk will face Jacob Taylor of Canton South in his first bout.

The Spartans’ Joe Rozalski (25-6) opens with Logan Sharp of West Branch at heavyweight.


Division III

Mitch Skleres of Pymatuning Valley has the honors of taking the mat first in the 113-pound class at Garfield Heights. He will take a 30-10 record into a bout with Danny Wallo (23-9) of Orrville.

Cody Rhoades of Grand Valley is the next up at 126. At 32-15, the freshman will take on Mogadore’s Gavin Chew (11-13). Kirtland’s Evan Francis (33-9), a Jefferson resident, will open with Tristin Stiltner of Hillsdale (22-10) at 132.

Miller (25-11) will start with Justin Chew (30-5) of Mogadore at 138 for the Lakers while Luke Baldwin (25-11) will Zach Androw (24-7) of Navarre Fairless at 160 for the Mustangs.

At 170, the Lakers’ Collin Winkler (25-13) sets up for a battle with Will Hopkins (15-14) of Chippewa. Teammate Brandon Muha (12-18) takes on Rootstown’s Travis Linton (41-2) at 182.

Zaller and the Lakers’ Austin O’Baker would like nothing more than to duke it out once again for the title at 195. Zaller begins the quest against Tim Davin (19-13) of Columbiana while O’Baker (25-13) will open with Jacob Elam (11-9) of Rootstown.

Jerome Walker will take his 21-16 record into a bout with Bryan Jones (25-12) of Chippewa at 220.

The Lakers’ big man, Shawn Shreves (26-11), will be the last man to go when his match with Kristian Bremer (23-14) of Lutheran West starts in the heavyweight division.

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