Wednesday, June 26, 2019 Medina 70°
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Odd men in: Wadsworth grapplers end state tournament with wins, spots on podium

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    Wadsworth’s Jon List works against Mount Vernon’s Max VanFossen in the 170-pound seventh-place match.

    RICK TWINING / GAZETTE

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    Wadsworth 145-pounder Michael North, right, prevents a third-period escape to Stow’s Daniel Patten.

    RICK TWINING / GAZETTE

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    Wadsworth 160-pounder Dom Loparo works against Westerville South’s Aaron Morton.

    RICK TWINING / GAZETTE

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COLUMBUS — Wrestlers want to be looked at as odd at the end of the Division I state wrestling tournament.

If there’s an odd number next to their names, it means they walked off the mats of Columbus by winning their last match.

Even numbers mean they lost.

Wadsworth, which didn’t have a state finalist for the first time since 2013, did what it does best Saturday by bouncing back with authority.

All six state qualifiers placed, with Michael North (3rd, 145 pounds), Luke Baughman (5th, 138) and Dom Loparo (5th, 160) winning their final matches.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Grizzlies coach Clay Wenger said. “(Friday) was obviously a tough round, but you know we’ve faced that all season and we came back this morning and bounced back. They did a great job. I’m really proud of them all.”

With Mason Brugh (4th, 106), Landen Hacker (4th, 120) and Jon List (8th, 170) also reaching the podium, Wadsworth finished fifth in the team race, comfortably ahead of Mason.

While it’s the first top-five finish for Wenger, it’s the third straight season the Grizzlies have been fifth or better and the 12th time since the turn of the century.

“The coaching staff and all the people around the program are what makes that happen,” Wenger said. “I’m just thankful to be a Grizzly. I love the program and I’m proud of these six guys.”

While titles eluded the six, the drive to push through adversity was evident in the consolation semifinals and beyond.

In a Saturday morning round that wrestled 210 matches over nine mats in 2ᄑ hours, the turnaround between a consolation semifinal match and placement match was short, so there was not much time to regroup.

“Obviously, I wanted to win a state title, but if you look at this weight class, it’s a bunch of hammers,” North said. “You’ve got (national champion) Bryce Andonian, who is ranked fourth nationally, and (state champion) Chris Donathan, who is ranked ninth. To come out with an odd placing is huge.”

More importantly for North, his third-place finish was about showing everyone that Wadsworth is ready to take on all comers.

That’s the way it was under national and Medina County Hall of Famer John Gramuglia.

That’s how it has continued on Wenger.

“It’s nice to win your last match in a Wadsworth singlet,” said Baughman, a three-time state placer. “Wadsworth’s wrestling program has done so much for me. I can’t thank them enough. That was the one positive for this tournament.”

Given how things ended, there will be more positives to come.

Baughman will head to Indiana University. North is off to the University of Maryland.

They’ll turn the reigns over to Brugh, Hacker, Loparo and List, who have already shown they’re ready to continue the tradition.

“It’s more momentum after you’ve been down here,” said Loparo, who has reached state the last two seasons. “I wanted to place, so I accomplished that.

“It maybe wasn’t as high as I wanted to, but next year I’m coming for it all. I think it’s a statement. We brought six kids and placed all six. I think that says something. We brought six hammers, and they all placed. I’m so proud of everyone on our team.”

Contact Brad Bournival at bournival929@gmail.com.
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