MAPLE HEIGHTS - The district tournament at Maple Heights was, arguably, the strongest and toughest one in the state in Division III.
With state-caliber wrestlers at every weight class, area teams scraped and clawed their way toward berths in Columbus next weekend. When the dust settled, five area wrestlers - three from Keystone - were left standing.
The Wildcats, who placed all five of their wrestlers in the top six, set a team record with three state qualifiers - district champ William Spangler (112), district runner-up Brian Spangler (103) and fourth-place finisher James Gerken (152).
They also finished fourth in the team standings with 90.5 points, behind state powerhouses Chanel (210), CVCA (152.5) and Tuslaw (93.5).
“I’m real happy with how we did,” Keystone coach Jim Pycraft said. “To come in with five and have them all get onto the podium at the end, that’s awesome. They worked really hard and they deserve it.”
For William Spangler, his district championship capped a journey that began at last year’s district tournament, where he missed out on the third-place match by a point and wound up taking fifth.
“That point’s been bugging me the entire year,” said William (40-3). “I just wanted to come back (to districts) and win it. And to be going with everyone else, that’s something.”
William clinched a berth in the championship match, and a state berth, with a 4-2 overtime win over Jackson-Milton’s Vinnie Pizzuto. He followed that with a 9-3 decision over Beachwood’s Alex Dronzek, who came into the tournament with only one loss.
William broke a 3-3 third-period tie with an escape and a takedown, then picked up four more back points to clinch the championship.
“I just wanted to keep on attacking him, and I didn’t want to give him any breaks,” he said. “He tried go get a little roll on me to get on top, and I didn’t let him get all the way around and wound up with four points. It kinda worked out for me.”
Spangler’s twin brother Brian (34-3) punched his second-straight ticket to Columbus with an 11-1 major decision over Manchester’s Kyle Ferguson in the semifinals. But for the second straight weekend, CVCA freshman Nathan Tomasello defeated Brian. After losing 8-3 at Brooklyn, Brian cut the gap a bit in a 5-1 loss.
“We’re narrowing the gap a little bit there,” Pycraft said. “Brian showed some improvement against him. Hopefully, we can run into him again at state.”
Gerken (38-6) punched his first-career ticket to state the hard way, losing his first match Friday night and racking up four straight victories in the consolation bracket.
Gerken took on his close friend and Lorain County rival, Elyria Catholic junior Cory Campbell (23-3), in the third-place match. For the second straight week, it was Campbell who defeated Gerken, this time 12-6.
Campbell and Wellington senior Josh Roberts (215) are the other area state qualifiers.
Campbell rebounded from his quarterfinal loss to post two major decisions and a five-point victory to qualify for his third-place showdown with Gerken and his first career trip to state.
“I was in a zone (Saturday), and I never came out of it,” Campbell said. “My conditioning is 10 times better than it was last week, and it showed. I didn’t let (Friday’s) loss bother me at all.
“My brother (former Black River state champion Jesse Campbell) helped me through it, as did Coach (John) McNulty. I give him a lot of credit for getting me ready for this. It’s a dream come true.”
Roberts (37-8) also rebounded from a quarterfinal loss with a stellar performance in the wrestlebacks. He punched his first-career trip to Columbus with a 7-5 decision over Chanel’s Kennedy Smith, before pinning Orrville’s Gage Wright in 1:30 to take third place.
“I just stayed focused the whole day,” said Roberts, who is the only one of the Dukes’ five district qualifiers to reach state. “There are a lot of good guys here that could have beaten me easily had I not stayed focused. It feels great to get to state, especially since this is my senior year. I can’t wait.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Chanel 210, 2. CVCA 152.5, 3. Tuslaw 93.5, 4. Keystone 90.5, 5. Waynedale 73, 6. Manchester 70, 7. (tie) Cuyahoga Heights, Jackson-Milton 64, 9. Northwestern 60.5, 10. Loudonville 59, 11. Chippewa 54, 12. Beachwood 53, 13. Kirtland 49.5, 14. Norwayne 44.5, 15. Rootstown 44, 16. Orrville 43, 17. Girard 42, 18. Independence 40, 19. Garfield 36, 20. (tie) VASJ, Wellington 30, 22. Triway 29.5, 23. Elyria Catholic 28, 24. Waterloo 25, 25. Fairport Harding 23, 26. Brookfield 20.5, 27. Cardinal 19, 28. Brooklyn 16, 29. Fairview 14, 30. Pymatuning Valley 13, 31. Black River 11, 32. Hillsdale 10.5, 33. Hawken 10, 34. Oberlin 9, 35. Liberty 8, 36. (tie) Columbia, St. Thomas Aquinas 6, 38. (tie) Chagrin Falls, South Range 4, 40. Wickliffe 3, 41. Cleveland Central Catholic 2, 42 (tie) Dalton, Lutheran West, Trinity 1.
(top four advances to state, fifth is alternate)
103 - FIRST: Nathan Tomasello (CVCA) dec. Brian Spangler (Keystone), 5-1; THIRD: Aaron Assad (Chanel) dec. Kyle Ferguson (Manchester), 5-1; FIFTH: Casey Johns (Cardinal) pinned Jeff Powell (Tuslaw), 4:19.
112 - FIRST: William Spangler (Keystone) dec. Alex Dronzek (Beachwood), 9-3; THIRD: Vinnie Pizzuto (Jackson-Milton) maj. dec. Dustin Grier (Norwayne), 14-2; FIFTH: Scott Spreng (Loudonville) maj. dec. Esler Heyd (Garfield), 15-6.
119 - FIRST: Zack Nelson (Tuslaw) dec. Cody Tschantz (Chanel), 4-3; THIRD: Tim Wiseman (Jackson-Milton) dec. Tyler Thompson (Brookfield), 7-3; FIFTH: Brett Fortune (Northwestern) maj. dec. Josh Decatur (CVCA), 11-3.
125 - FIRST: Alec Jacober (Beachwood) maj. dec. Jeremy Walden (Chanel), 12-2; THIRD: Jacob Carpenter (Girard) dec. Drew Liechty (Fairview), 5-1; FIFTH: Tanner Lawrence (Garfield) dec. Seth Powers (CVCA), 7-6.
130 -FIRST: Mike Kovach (Chanel) dec. Johnny Matacic (Jackson-Milton), 4-2; THIRD: Shane Brown (Manchester) maj. dec. Angelo Colombo (Independence), 11-3; FIFTH: Matt Dobben (CVCA) maj. dec. Tony Widder (Waynedale), 18-7.
135 - FIRST: Zak Vargo (CVCA) dec. Jim Dankle (Cuyahoga Heights), 6-3; THIRD: Dan Collier (Chanel) dec. Justin Petersheim (Waynedale), 6-1; FIFTH: Josh Lawrence (Garfield) dec. Josh Taylor (Elyria Catholic), 8-6 OT.
140 - FIRST: J.C. Giffin (Fairport Harbor) dec. Zane Nelson (Tuslaw), 5-2 OT Criteria; THIRD: Dan Orrill (Chanel) dec. Brett Snyder (Rootstown), 8-2; FIFTH: Seth Heldenbrand (Hillsdale) dec. Aaron Hall (Girard), 5-1.
145 - FIRST: Zach Noernberg (Cuyahoga Heights) dec. Brandon Sommers (CVCA), 5-2; THIRD: Joey Kiefer (Chanel) pinned Tyler Topp (Northwestern), 4:16; FIFTH: Casey Gawen (Keystone) def. Ronell Spates (VASJ) by forfeit.
152 - FIRST: Cody Walters (Chanel) dec. Zebulun Beam (Waynedale), 4-0; THIRD: Cory Campbell (Elyria Catholic) dec. James Gerken (Keystone), 12-6; FIFTH: Nico Francis (Girard) and Cole Drake (Triway) double forfeit.
160 - FIRST: Dennis Raber (Orrville) dec. Bryson Hall (Chippewa), 7-0; THIRD: Matt Meadows (CVCA) dec. Ken Trusnik (Chanel), 6-1; FIFTH: Dylan Bender (Loudonville) dec. Pat Meade (Cuyahoga Heights), 7-6 OT Criteria.
171 -FIRST: Alex Utley (CVCA) def. Garrett Linton (Rootstown) by forfeit; THIRD: Nick Zele (Kirtland) pinned Phil Wellington (VASJ), 2:44; FIFTH: Alex Tuttle (Loudonville) dec. Todd Remenaric (Tuslaw), 6-3.
189 - FIRST: Kurtis Schaefer (Northwestern) dec. Royal Brettrager (Kirtland), 8-7; THIRD: Jonathan Beam (Waynedale) pinned Jon Schafer (Chanel), :30; FIFTH: Treg Grubb (Tuslaw) pinned Mason Bremke (Oberlin), 2:27.
215 - FIRST: Justin Schafrath (Chippewa) dec. Brent Allerding (Loudonville), 3-1; THIRD: Josh Roberts (Wellington) pinned Gage Wyant (Orrville), 1:30; FIFTH: Nate Orrick (Black River) dec. Kennedy Smith (Chanel), 15-8.
285 - FIRST: Kyle Kelly (Manchester) dec. Greg Dailey (Independence), 8-4; THIRD: Jordan Richards (Norwayne) dec. Eddie Flinner (Triway), 5-1; FIFTH: Anthony Chizmadia (Keystone) def. Ajun Sessions (Brooklyn) by forfeit.
Wukie wins district title; Avon’s Zeman makes state
Elyria’s Brad Wukie — a University School senior — captured the 160-pound championship at the Division II district wrestling tournament at Akron Firestone on Saturday.
Wukie won his first three matches of the tournament via pin, then handed Aurora’s Danny McNamara a 16-4 major decision in the final.
Avon sophomore Zane Zeman was the lone area wrestler to advance to state at the Division II district tournament at Marion Harding.
Zeman was second after losing a 13-5 major decision to Padua’s Brent Fickel in the
130-pound championship match.
Vermilion’s Anthony Budka (152) lost a 14-5 major decision to Clay Roehrig of Defiance in a fifth-place match.