The Kenmore Cardinals are City Series wrestling champions for the ninth consecutive year under coach Lee Thompson, who was named City Series Coach of the Year.
Kenmore went 4-0 in the City Series Tournament, defeating Ellet 54-19, North 74-0, Buchtel 40-33 and Firestone 45-23 on Saturday at Kenmore.
The Cardinals were led by individual champions Travis McClellan (106 pounds), Josh Conley (132), Mike Cross (160), T.J. Mays (185) and Brandon Brailer (195).
“I credit the team’s success to perseverance and teamwork,” Thompson said. “Everybody kept their focus on the team championship. Nobody was here to win a championship for themselves. Everybody wanted to keep the streak going at Kenmore and we knew it was going to be very tough.”
Corey Ballinger (120), David Darrow (152), Shawn Borkowski (220) and Nolan Shropshire (275) finished second for the Cardinals.
“Corey Ballinger wrestled today the best he’s wrestled all year in some of the toughest matchups he’s had all year,” Thompson said. “We just had so many athletes with outstanding performances.”
Kenmore was able to find success this season despite having a relatively young team, receiving big contributions from wrestlers who are new to the varsity program.
“Josh Conley has come leaps and bounds from where he was last year, his first year ever wrestling,” Thompson said. “And Brandon Brailer had the best record in our lineup and this is his first year wrestling on varsity. He’s doing unbelievable.”
Two Buchtel wrestlers earned the top individual honors of the tournament, helping lead the Griffins to a second-place finish with a 3-1 record.
William Wilson (145 pounds) was named Wrestler of the Tournament.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Wilson said. “Last year I didn’t get to wrestle because I wasn’t keeping up with my grades but this year I practiced hard. I think I earned it.”
He attributed the improvement of his single-leg takedown to his success.
“I used it on every kid I wrestled today,” he said. “I wrestled much more under control.”
Wilson’s teammate, senior Nevan Strobelt-McCann (126 pounds) was named City Series Wrestler of the Year.
“I’m very honored. I’m glad I could earn that for our team,” Strobelt-McCann said.
A shift in mentality helped him obtain more success on the mat this year.
“It’s all in your heart. You have to want it. You have to enjoy wrestling or else you’re not going to be able to do it,” Strobelt-McCann said. “In past years I’ve been afraid to wrestle people, but this year I adopted a winning attitude. You have to think you can beat anybody. Even if you can’t, the first step is thinking you can.”
Alongside Strobelt-McCann and Wilson, Emmanuel White (113) and Trevel Cooper (275) were individual champions for the Griffins.
Earning individual champion honors for Firestone were Austin Qualls (120), Thomas Lehman (152), Vince Musci (170) and Edmund Williams (220).
The lone champion for Ellet was Dakota Franklin at 138 pounds.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.