WADSWORTH — Don’t call it a comeback. The Wadsworth wrestling team has been here for years.
While some may have questioned the Grizzlies’ national ranking following a Suburban League National Conference loss to Brecksville two weeks ago, Wadsworth proved how strong it is Saturday with a second-place finish at its own tournament.
Only 18-time reigning Division II champion St. Paris Graham was better at the 33rd annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament.
Add the fact that state placer Logan Messer (152 pounds) missed the last three matches due to injury and a 46-point deficit could have been much closer.
“That’s what we preached all week,” coach Clay Wenger said. “We had a letdown, but that happens to every good team. They rebounded well this weekend against a lot of good teams. We’re back. We’re ready.”
Tournament MVP Luke Baughman (138) was impressive with a title that included wins over LaSalle National Freestyle All-American Jake Niffenegger, two-time state placer and runner-up Alek Martin of Graham and St. Vincent-St. Mary state qualifier Hunter Olson.
Michael North (145) and Dom Loparo (170) joined him on the top step, while Jon List (182) was second.
Mason Brugh (3rd, 106), Landon Hacker (3rd, 120), Mikey Lewarchick (4th, 113) and Jamisen Jackson (4th, 195) also placed in the top six of the 16-team tournament that included four nationally-ranked teams, 11 nationally-ranked wrestlers, five state-ranked teams, six state champions and 34 placers.
“I thought we performed very well today,” Baughman said. “I’m excited for the postseason with this team. We have a lot of potential. I think it’s going to be a fun postseason.”
With only a regular-season dual against Ashland remaining, the postseason starts in earnest this week with the State Duals.
“We worked all week for this so we could refocus and come back stronger,” North said. “It hurt after we lost so badly to Brecksville, but we came back here and lost to Graham by just a little bit. This is a big confidence booster.
“We’ve been training all week and trying to come back. It shows we’re here, and we’re staying. We’ll fight for every point, and that’s what we will need the next weeks up until March.”
North won with an 8-5 decision over Aurora state qualifier Andy Garr, while Loparo picked up his third consecutive tournament win with a first-period pin of Harrison state qualifier Simon Shirley.
“After that Brecksville match, we just took another step,” Loparo said. “We got better that week. We knew not everybody wrestled to their best capability. Coming out here and having three champions and four kids in the finals is a big statement, especially when there are other nationally-ranked teams here.
“When it gets late in the season, some kids are just falling off the map a little bit because they’re tired and sore and they don’t push through. I think that we’ve always just focused on grinding and going hard, because you have to turn it on at the end of the season if you want to be where you want to be.”
As always, Wadsworth wants to be in that state title mix. Given the way the Grizzlies wrestled Saturday, don’t be surprised if the D-I podiums in March are littered in red and white.
“That’s what we train for,” Wenger said. “It’s the big match, the fun match. It’s them believing in themselves, their coaches and their teammates. We’re looking good.”
WADSWORTH — Results Saturday from the 33rd annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament at Wadsworth High School.
Team standings: 1. St. Paris Graham 368, 2. Wadsworth 322, 3. Reynolds (Pa.) 319, 4. Aurora 290, 5. Olentangy Liberty 238.5, 6. Cincinnati LaSalle 226, 7. Harrison 225.5, 8. CVCA 225, 9. St. Vincent-St. Mary 204.5, 10. Lake Catholic 194.5, 11. Findlay 131.5, 12. Smithville 101, 13. Waynedale 97.5, 14. Kenston 96.5, 15. North Canton Hoover 77, 16. Ashtabula Lakeside 56.
106: Gary Steen (Rey) d. Kenneth Crosby (SVSM), 3-0; Third: Mason Brugh (Wad) d. Nolan Gessler (Gra), 1-0; Fifth: Brendan McCrone (LC) d. Robbie Sagaris (Aur), 4-0. 113: Cole Skinner (LaSalle) d. Dierre Clayton (SVSM), 9-4; Third: Jacob Decatur (CVCA) d. Mikey Lewarchick (Wad), 9-3; Fifth: Nic Willigham (Aur) d. Trace Braun (Gra), 5-1. 120: Lucas Byrd (LaS) d. Beau Bayless (Rey), 8-1; Third: Landon Hacker (Wad) d. Caden Scarbrough (CVCA), 7-6; Fifth: Dawson Show (Gra) d. Ethan Wannett (Lak), 4-2. 126: Antoine Allen (LaS) d. Chris Kelly (Gra), 8-5; Third: Conor McCrone (LC) d. Matt Williams (CVCA), 7-1; Fifth: Lucas Uliano (Lib) d. Andrew Ischo (Rey), 2-1. 132: Jordan Decatur (CVCA) d. Nick Moore (Gra), 3-1; Third: Cameron Baird (Harr) p. Jack Gorman (Aur), 2:52; Fifth: Kaeden Berger (Rey) d. Nick Coreno (LC), 6-0. 138: Luke Baughman (Wad) d. Alek Martin (Gra), 5-3; Third: Hunter Olson (SVSM) d. Rocco Bartolo (Rey), 4-2; Fifth: Jake Niffenegger (LaS) d. Jonah Smith (Fin), 12-5. 145: Michael North (Wad) d. Andy Garr (Aur), 8-5; Third: Jake Potok (SVSM) d. Darnai Heard (LaS), 6-3; Fifth: Austin Pownall (CVCA) d. Jayce Fitzpartrick (Lib), 3-0. 152: Dylan Fishback (Aur) d. Jeffrey Thomas (Gra), 3-2, OT; Third: Dakota Ryan (LC) d. Dalton Duvall (CVCA), 5-4; Fifth: Dylan Sosnowsky (Ken) d. Max Jolliff (Fin), 4-0. 160: Connor Brady (Lib) p. Brett McIntosh (Har), 2:30; Third: Isaiah Stickley (Gra) d. Joe Koplow (Ken), 6-0; Fifth: Sean O’Dwyer (LC) d. Hunter Thompson (Rey), 7-6. 170: Dom Loparo (Wad) p. Simon Shirley (Har), 1:32; Third: Ethan Anderson (Aur) p. Cole Toy (Rey), :23; Fifth: Micah Hershberger (Way) p. Michael Payton (Ken), 2:06. 182: Trey Sizemore (LaS) m.d. Jon List (Wad), 9-1; Third: Ryan Prusinowski (Hoo) d. Bryce McCloswkey (Rey), 3-2; Fifth: Evan Anderson (Aur) d. Justin Callahan (Lib), 3-0. 195: Max Boyle (Har) m.d. Ben Cox (Lib), 13-5; Third: Colin McNamara (Aur) d. Jamisen Jackson (Wad), 3-0; Fifth: William Mannier (Gra) m.d. Owen Weaver (LC), 14-4. 220: Wyatt Owen (Rey) p. Kaden Tong (Lib), 2:42; Third: Trey Pence (Gra) d. Dante Leone (Aur), 4-2; Fifth: Jake Noon (Fin) d. Evan Miller (Rey), 9-2. 285: Johnny Shafer (Gra) p. Breslin Walker (CVCA), 5:52; Third: J Derrick Skeehan (Rey) d. Joe Warren (Smi), 8-3; Fifth: David Hooks (SVSM) d. Brady Kuhn (Lib), 7-6, OT.
- Wadsworth breaks through, advances to state duals quarterfinals
- Wadsworth fights to the end to tie Brecksville for Suburban League crown
- Mason Brugh turns out to be fantastic freshman for Wadsworth
- Wadsworth's Luke Baughman, Michael North are brothers in arms -- and state-bound
- Wadsworth grapplers eager for home invitational