MACEDONIA: Using a different lineup and a couple of wrestlers in different spots, Wadsworth beat Green and then Nordonia in the Division I wrestling regional at Nordonia High School on Wednesday night to advance to the regional final.
The Grizzlies cruised past Green 50-12 and then took down Nordonia, another Suburban League foe, 33-24.
In the final match against the Knights, the Grizzlies used four wrestlers who either weren’t in the normal starting lineup for the duration of the season or who were wrestling at a different weight class.
It’s a philosophy set out by coach John Gramuglia, that every member of the team plays an equal role. Changing lineups and keeping things fresh, Gramuglia said, played a key role in the Grizzlies’ state title two years ago. It’s working again.
“We tried to give everybody experience of wrestling in the state competition, and those kids have earned it,” Gramuglia said.
Junior Dom Cart dropped down a class to wrestle at 132 pounds, junior Jordan Schleigh moved up to 138, senior Mathias Zollinger moved up to 145 and sophomore Tim Knipl moved up to the 182.
For much of the night, Nordonia had the momentum until hitting that group of wrestlers. The Knights were ahead 12-6 before Zollinger beat junior Jake Urich 5-1. Then junior Robbie Bosley swung the momentum in the other direction with a quick pin at 0:40 in the first period at 152 pounds, giving Wadsworth an 18-12 lead.
Knipl was later involved in possibly the most exciting night of the match, defeating Nordonia junior Eric Claren 7-5 in a back-and-forth bout that had players on both benches on their feet.
Nearly every match carried a similar level of excitement, many of the decisions staying within two or three points up until the final whistle. After the two rounds against Green and Nordonia, Gramuglia was drained.
“I’m a little exhausted,” he said. “This is a nice format but it’s very hard on the kids and the coaches. Nordonia has a great team. And I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”
The Knights might have had a chance to overtake Wadsworth in the final match. Sophomore Nick Bina (195 pounds) and Junior Alex Woicehovich (220 pounds) each had a pin that cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 27-24.
Nordonia, however, had to forfeit the 170-pound and 285-pound matches due the flu, which had ripped through the team during the week.
Nordonia coach Audie Atienza refused to use it as an excuse.
“Everybody’s fighting it, so we don’t use it as a crutch,” Atienza said. “You have to tip your hat. It’s no reason for us to not go out and perform.”
After twice battling Wadsworth, a perennial league favorite, Atienza isn’t satisfied but is pleased with some signs that the Knights have shown that the gap is being closed.
“There are a couple matches we lost that I would have liked to have seen go our way,” he said. “But overall, we’re heading in the right direction.”
Nordonia beat Barberton 36-24 to get to the match against Wadsworth.
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.