MEDINA: The Wadsworth and Nordina wrestling teams have been going at each other all year, the long-running champion and the rising newcomer meeting to create more than a couple of great battles.
At the Division I sectional tournament at Medina High School on Saturday, the two powerhouses faced off in three sectional title bouts and numerous other third- and fifth-place bouts. The Grizzlies won two of the three first-place matches.
Wadsworth senior captain Mathias Zollinger, a returning state qualifier, defeated Nordonia junior Mike DeCesare 3-2 at 138 pounds. Those two are very familiar with each other. Saturday’s match was the fourth time they’ve faced each other this season.
“I know him, he knows me, so it’s just a battle every time,” Zollinger said.
Zollinger spent much of the latter half of the match twisting and turning while DeCesare got his leg in the air, still only behind by one point. Zollinger managed to hold on despite a couple of close calls in the third period.
Nordonia junior Eric Claren took the next title bout between the two schools, beating Alex Carrell 5-1 at 182 pounds. Claren has beaten several different Grizzlies this year, adding a little bit extra to his sectional title.
“Its lovely to be able to take them down and pick them off as much as you can,” Claren said. “This year I had age, work ethic, a lot of new coaching. It’s all helped.”
Wadsworth senior Daryk Maki, in the 285-pound weight class, felt the same way toward Nordonia, saying the Knights are confident and it’s always a little nicer to be able to beat a rival. Maki pinned Knights heavyweight Brandon Rem in 1:33 to break the tie between the Suburban League rivals.
“When you have wrestled the same teams over and over and the same kids, it’s tough,” Wadsworth coach John Gramuglia said. “It starts all over again next week, no matter what you place. I’m real proud of the team, how hard they wrestled.”
Nordonia coach Audie Atienza said there are negatives and positives to facing the same kids.
“It’s good to see the best team as many times as you can to get a good look at them,” he said. “I guess it’s good and bad, wrestling that many kids the same time. But the best kids might as well keep wrestling.”
Wadsworth had a third sectional champion in junior Robbie Bosley, who beat Firestone’s Tom Lehman 6-1 at 152 pounds.
Wadsworth’s Clayton Brandenburg took down Nordonia’s Nick Bina in the third-place bout at 195 pounds with a pin in 36 seconds. Both advance to the district tournament, though, as the top four wrestlers from each weight class move on. The Knights and Grizzlies weren’t done. Nordonia’s Tony DeCesare beat Wadsworth’s Noah Baughman 5-0 after Baughman beat him three times this year and Grizzlies 145-pounder Abdulhabib Abdulhabib won 3-1 over Jake Urich for third place. Also for the Knights, Heath Phillibert took third place at 132 pounds and Nick Collica took third in the 120-pound weight class.
Highland senior Adam Kluk won with a pin 42 seconds into his final bout to take the sectional title at 195 pounds. Brunswick senior Tyler Hughes won perhaps the tournament’s toughest bout, a 1-0 decision to take first at 170 pounds over Wadsworth sophomore Tim Knipl.
Wadsworth took second in the team standings with 225½ points. Nordonia was third with 187. Brecksville took first with 296 points.
Also advancing to the district tournament were Vince Musci (170 pounds) and Edmund Williams (220) of Firestone. Justin Hastings, Gabe Dorsey and Chris Burke of Copley all took third place at 160, 182 and 285 pounds, respectively. Brett Powell took fourth place at 126 pounds for the Indians.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.