If Wadsworth-Brecksville IV is anything like the previous three Suburban League National Conference duals, expect fireworks tonight at 6 in the Grizzly Den when the two battle for league supremacy.
Wadsworth (10-1, 6-0) comes in ranked 29th nationally by IntermatWrestle.com’s Josh Lowe. Brecksville (7-0, 6-0) comes in ranked 34th.
It marks the fourth time the two come into the SL contest undefeated.
“We’re probably the best two teams in the conference,” Brecksville 138-pounder Marco Regalbuto said. “There’s a lot of suspense that builds up to it. You give the people what they want. It’s like the Super Bowl is at the end of the year.”
That’s not hyperbole, as whoever has won the dual has gone on to win the SL Tournament.
It’s a dual loaded with top talent. Wadsworth has two-time state placers in Michael North (145 pounds), ranked 11th nationally, and Luke Baughman (138), ranked 19th.
Regalbuto is a two-time state placer and is ranked 13th, while Vic Voinovich (152) returns as a state champion and is ranked 14th.
The Grizzlies have state placers in Landen Hacker (126) and Logan Messer (152). The Bees counter with state placers Jimmy Carmany (132) and Jack Stanley (113).
Wadsworth also has returning state qualifiers Mikey Lewarchick (113) and Dom Loparo (170). Brecksville has state qualifiers Ben Vanadia (182) and Ethan Hatcher (195).
“It’s just two programs doing the right things,” Baughman said. “It’s just two powerhouse programs that have been going at it ever since they joined the Suburban League a few years ago. It’s been a little more intense the last few years. With us losing the Suburban League and the competitiveness, we’ve been super close the past couple years.”
The difference has been razor-thin in many of the head-to-head duals.
In 2016, a pin by heavyweight Kyle Green was the difference in a 28-22 win by the Grizzlies. In 2017, Wadsworth erased an 18-point deficit by winning five of the last six matches and claiming victory after Jordan Earnest beat Zach D’Anna by decision to hand Wadsworth a 31-29 win.
Last season, Brecksville snapped the Grizzlies’ 25-year SL title streak and also broke an 82-match league win streak when the Bees won 28-25.
That one took place in the Brecksville auditorium under the lights, and the Bees withstood Wadsworth winning the last five matches to hold onto a 28-25 victory.
“That atmosphere is just great to be in, honestly,” Regalbuto said. “Obviously, out of the three years, we’re 1-2 against them, but every year it’s been fun to compete against another nationally-ranked team. At the end, of the day, that’s all you can ask for. That’s how you get better.”
While both teams want to beat each other, there’s also tons of respect. Each squad knows success is measured in March, but look forward to the late conference dual to kick off the second half of the season.
“If you look at the history, Wadsworth has been good for eons,” Brecksville coach Todd Haverdill said. “They’ve been top 10, top five for how many years? It’s something crazy. You’re talking about two programs that have developed some recent tradition. I think when kids are winning, it’s contagious. When someone puts on a Wadsworth singlet, you expect them to win.”
That respect goes the other way as well.
“Coach Haverdill is a great coach,” Wadsworth coach Clay Wenger said. “He has a great staff. He’s got a great team. They put in a lot of time in the offseason. They work to get better. They do everything to get better.
“This match is for the league title. We’re rivals. We enjoy it. We know they’re tough. They took our streak. We want it back now. It’s just fun to be in.”