The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


February 24, 2013

Fab 15 headed to state

Area will be well represented in quest to be best on mats

The Division II district wrestling tournament at Alliance proved to be Perry’s own version of Treasure Island.

The Pirates had five wrestlers claim berths in the Ohio State Wrestling Championships to begin Thursday with two more placing in the top six.

“The guys wanted to go out and do well,” Perry assistant coach Chris Bezzeg, filling in for coach Dave Rowan, said. “It meant a lot to them to be a high-placing public school.

“I’m very, very pleased with the semifinal and final matches, for sure.”

That medal haul was good enough for a second-place finish for the Pirates. They tallied 151.5 points. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy won with 174.     

The Pirates had five grapplers reach the championship semifinals on Friday night and all five of them advanced to the finals. They didn’t fare much worse at that level, taking four championships in those five weight classes.

“The good news was we only lost one guy Friday night,” Bezzeg said. “All 12 of the other guys chipped in and won at least a match.

“We were 5-0 in the semifinals earlier in the day and we were 4-1 in the finals.”

Aaran Gessic claimed the 132-pound class as he slipped past Andy Dobben of CVCA, 4-3, to reach the final before finding a bit more magic with a 3-2 victory over Nolan Whitely of Walsh Jesuit.

Alec Schenk followed with a title at 160. He beat Ravenna’s Logan Reaser, 6-2, in the semifinals before dropping Zeck Lehman, 12-5, to claim the championship.

“I don’t want to say he was surprised,” Bezzeg said. “He was certainly overwhelmed that he made it. For the last month and a half, he’s been one of the most focused guys. He’s done some extra work.

“He came off crying and gave us a big hug. Being a champ is a great thing for him, not only this year but for next year, was well.”

That win put Schenk’s career total at 116, which is second in school history. He trails Mike Ashton, who graduated in 2001.  

Evan Nichols netted a pin in the semifinals before beating Jimmy Szep, 11-3, to claim the title at 195. Billy Miller did exactly what was necessary to win the heavyweight title with a 2-1 win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Drek Brumley in the semifinal and a 3-2 victory over West Branch’s Connor Sharp.  

Collin Dees was the lone Pirate to reach a final who didn’t win. He did claim second, though, at 113 with a 2-0 win over John Chell of SVSM in the semifinal before falling, 3-1, to Ryan Bennett of CVCA.

Also placing for Perry were Ryan Sill at 170 and Kyle Kremiller at 182, who were both sixth.

Conneaut’s Billy Post was the only other state qualifier from the area in Division II, taking fourth at 220.

“I’m really happy for him,” Conneaut coach Matt Bidwell said. “He definitely wanted a high place, but the ultimate goal was to be wrestling next week and he will be doing that.

“He’s had a hell of a season.”

Post reached the semifinal where he fell, 9-7, to Logan Sharp of West Branch. He was winning, 2-0, in the consolation semifinal before advancing because of an injury to his opponent. In a battle for third place, Post was pinned by Mason Hilling of Woodridge.  

“It feels great (to get to state),” Post said. “All of my hard work through the season paid off. Since I was a freshman, I had one goal. Coming off my junior season when I fell short, and now being able to say I qualified for state and am one of the top 16 wrestlers in Division II is pretty special.”

With just one loss entering the sectionals a week ago, it’s hard to say Post got on a roll. However, six days before the postseason began, a win over Lakeside heavyweight Chuck Morgan, who was unbeaten at the time, gave him an added measure of confidence.

“In my heart and in my mind, I thought I could pull off (the win over Morgan),” Post said. “The coaches believed in me.

“It was a boost that’s kept me going through sectionals and districts.”

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