WADSWORTH — It won’t be hard for the Wadsworth wrestling team to get up for the 33rd annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
In fact, the recipe for success has only three ingredients.
With the regular season winding down, it’s the last big tournament to show off in front of friends and family, but more importantly it’s a chance to get the collective taste out of the mouths of the Grizzlies after losing to Brecksville eight days ago in a key Suburban League dual.
If that’s not enough, the 16-team field includes six returning state champions and 34 state placers.
Wadsworth comes in with a chance to repeat, but the Grizzlies will face some stiff competition from St. Paris Graham, Cincinnati LaSalle, Aurora, CVCA, Olentangy Liberty, Waynedale, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Lake Catholic, Reynolds (Pa.), Hoover, Smithville, Kenston, Harrison, Findlay and Ashtabula Lakeside.
“We have refocused and reset our goals for the rest of the season,” Wadsworth coach Clay Wenger said. “We have a new group this weekend. This is kind of like our showcase. There’s a lot of people involved coming together to help make this possible. We have a lot of great teams coming. It’s kind of like that last big event. They’re excited to put a show on.”
While Wadsworth will host the Division I, Region 2 State Duals on Feb. 2 and still have senior night against Ashland on Feb. 7, the GIT has been the going away party of sorts for the Grizzlies throughout past seasons.
The GIT, which used to take place during the holiday season, was pushed back to the end of January and has come into its own as wrestlers from the past and future line the gym to watch the present.
“It’s our own hosted tournament, so it should be lots of fun,” Wadsworth two-time state placer Luke Baughman said. “It’s a fun week. It’s kind of your last chance to prove yourself and show out with a good performance.”
Those performances begin at 9 a.m. in the one-day tournament and will come against the best of the best.
LaSalle is arguably the favorite to win the D-I individual state tournament, but will be pushed by the likes of Wadsworth and Liberty.
In D-II, Graham has won 18 consecutive state titles, but the Falcons could legitimately pick up competition from Aurora this season.
Add Reynolds, CVCA, Lake Catholic and St. Vincent-St. Mary and the finals should be a who’s who of those who will wrestle on the last day of the wrestling season.
“It’s like a preview of the state tournament,” Baughman said. “It helps you keep your focus and keep getting better.”
To a man, Wadsworth wrestlers said they were ready to show the field exactly what they’re all about after losing 38-22 to Brecksville.
“They’re absolutely ready,” Wenger said. “We’ve definitely rebounded from the loss. We took the day off Friday and refocused. We set our goals and continue through the rest of the season. There’s definitely a new group here ready to go this weekend.”
Baughman (138 pounds) and Michael North (145) return as GIT champions.
The field has returning champions in Jacob Decatur (113, CVCA), Anthony Trivisonno (120, Lake Catholic), Jordan Decatur (132, CVCA), Hunter Olson (138, St. Vincent-St. Mary), Connor Brady (160, Liberty), Carson Kharchla (170, Liberty) and Breslin Walker (220, CVCA).