Wadsworth wrestling coach Clay Wenger doesn’t entrust anyone to bat leadoff for a team full of stars.
As the Grizzlies prepare for the most important three weeks of the season, “Brugh’s Crew” is steamrolling to what could be another fantastic finish.
Mason Brugh opens for Wadsworth at 106 pounds, and the Grizzlies haven’t missed a beat.
“Mason Brugh has been a winner and a competitor for our program since he was 8 years old, when he won a youth state title,” Wenger said. “We’ve always had him on our radar as the guy once he got up to high school.
“He made a statement at the middle school level. He’s a special kid. I’m not surprised he’s doing a great job as a leader in our room as a freshman. I’m very proud of him.”
There’s quite a lot to be proud of, as the multiple-time junior high state placer came to the room in November and has kept the tradition alive.
After their 25-year reign atop the Suburban League ended to Brecksville last season, the Grizzlies roared back last weekend to win the conference tournament and grab a share of the title with the Bees.
For Brugh, it’s picking up where state qualifier Mikey Lewarchick left off when the 113-pounder was down a weight class last season.
“(Lewarchick is) my drill partner in the room, and every day we battle and go at it,” Brugh said. “I believe he’s helped me a lot throughout this experience in getting ready to almost take over what he started last year and even improve to try and do a better job than he did.”
The results are hard to argue, as Wadsworth has won the North Canton Holiday Tournament, Medina Invitational and SL Tournament.
The Grizzlies also reached the Division I State Duals quarterfinals for the first time since the format change in 2013 and finished second at the Grizzly Invitational behind 18-time state champion St. Paris Graham.
Brugh comes into the Wadsworth Sectional on Saturday with a 36-6 record. Two of the losses came at the Walsh Ironman.
Wrestling prognosticator Josh Lowe ranks Brugh sixth in Ohio after Brugh won a league title, took runner-up at North Canton and made podium appearances at the MIT and GIT.
“I’m so proud of Mason and the work ethic and person he is,” Wenger said. “To have him start a dual, you’re confident. He’s tough. He’s a little bit mean. He’s a competitor, and to have (Lewarchick) follow that, this is why we’re so successful.”
The success has come without a wrinkle of doubt.
While there are nerves, Brugh steps to the mat with confidence.
Some of that comes from past success, while some comes from having wrestlers like Lewarchick, Landen Hacker, Luke Baughman, Michael North, Logan Messer, Dom Loparo and Jon List in the lineup.
All great in their own right, they’ve had success at the state level and are an easy litmus test for Brugh as he navigates the season.
“Of course, there’s pressure every match,” Brugh said. “Most times, you’re almost expected to win, but for me I just cope with it by not thinking of the match too much. I don’t really get into thinking about it until 15 minutes before the match. The team does a good job of keep each other’s minds off it.”
With Baughman and North headed to college in the fall, there will be a changing of the guard.
Wenger expects his standout 106-pounder to be in the mix when called upon.
“He’s our future,” Wenger said. “He’s the next guy. We’re going to lose Michael and Luke, but he’s going to follow right behind him with a lot of other good guys. We’re lucky to have him.”
- Wadsworth fights to the end to tie Brecksville for Suburban League crown
- Wadsworth can't overcome early deficit, falls to Elyria in state duals
- Wadsworth breaks through, advances to state duals quarterfinals
- St. Paris Graham wins Grizzly Invitational, but Wadsworth gets swagger back
- Expected showdown turns into rout late as Brecksville beats Wadsworth
- Wadsworth rolls in triangular meet; Brecksville awaits
- Dom Loparo, Luke Baughman, Michael North lead Wadsworth to Hoover three-peat
- Wadsworth's Michael North places for second straight year at Walsh Jesuit Ironman