The Wadsworth wrestling team knows what’s at stake. The Grizzlies also know when they’ve been faced with adversity, they’ve passed the test.
Wadsworth has won or shared 25 consecutive SL titles and head to Barberton High School on Saturday hoping for No. 26.
Brecksville beat the Grizzlies 28-25 in the regular season, so the Bees will likely at least share the crown. That doesn’t mean Wadsworth is making the SLT bigger than it is.
“We’re calling it championship week,” Grizzlies coach John Gramuglia said. “We had a big match (against St. Edward Wednesday at the State Duals) and we’re excited to see what we have in the gas tank. We want to see if we match up and respond and get back at it.
“We never really talk about (the streak) that match. It’s just take care of business and wrestle hard. We prepare the same way for every match, no matter if it’s an inferior opponent or superior opponent.”
Brecksville returns champions in Andrew Perelka (113 pounds), Julian Tagg (120), Gabe Tagg (132), Marco Regalbuto (138) and Ethan Hatcher, while Wadsworth has Michael North (145), Joey Baughman (182) and Jordan Earnest (285).
The two each have three league placers back as well, which means virtually every point could mean the difference in the National Conference league race.
“We showed some signs down at St. Paris Graham (last weekend) that we’re starting to compete more,” Gramuglia said. “We have a young team. They’re starting to get it. They’ve shown signs of pulling out things when behind. The leaders we have are phenomenal.”
In the American Conference, Aurora returns as a two-time defending champion with Highland returning Brady Linder (145) as a placer.
The upstart Hornets are on the rise under coach Alan Fried and the legend is looking forward to seeing what they offer this weekend.
“It’s important so we can get our lineup set,” Fried said. “We want to see who has the best chance at what weight to make a run at state in case we have to shuffle around. The team is mainly freshmen and sophomores. We’re taking one junior. I just want to get the message to them that the race is already started. Don’t wait until you become upperclassmen. Go out and win every match.”
Greater Cleveland Conference
While the league title is all but wrapped up for a third straight year to Elyria, the battle for second between Medina, Brunswick and Mentor should be epic on Saturday.
It goes like this in GCC action: Brunswick lost to Medina, but beat Mentor head-to-head. Mentor beat Medina, but lost to Brunswick. None of those matches were won by more than eight points, so this weekend’s battle for runner-up will leave teams hungry and battle-tested.
“For us, this tournament is usually about individuals, but the fact everybody is 5-2 in the league makes this a true run for second place to Elyria,” Blue Devils coach Mike Koshar said.
While the Blue Devils don’t have any returning GCC champs, the Bees bring back Ian Senz (138), Tyler Wissel (145) and Brady Chrisman (170).
This is more than just an opportunity for Medina to finish runner-up by itself, however, as the Bees look forward to intense competition to get themselves ready for the postseason at Euclid High School.
Last year, the GCC boasted 20 state qualifiers, four state champions and nine state placers.
“It’s always good competition,” Bees coach Chad Gilmore said. “No matter what Northeast District you’re in, you’re going to see part of the GCC. Most teams have had heavy tournaments in December and maybe one or two big ones in January and mainly go to duals.
“It’s nice to have this competition where it’s not a long, drawn out two days, but you know you’ll be fighting for two or three of your matches. It gets you back into the tournament mode.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.