ALLIANCE: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy took first in two weight classes and will send six more wrestlers to Columbus for the state meet next week after taking first as a team at the Division II district tournament at Alliance High School on Saturday night.

Sophomore Ryan Bennett won the title match in the 113-pound weight class by a 3-1 decision and senior Nathan Tomasello pinned Crestwood’s Connor Nemec in 2:51 at 120 pounds.

Senior Josh Decatur (second place, 126 pounds), sophomore Andy Dobben (third place, 132 pounds), junior Jeff Hojnacki (second place, 145 pounds), senior Matt Dobben (third place, 152 pounds) junior Tyler Maclellan (third place, 170 pounds) and senior Nick Havener (third place, 195 pounds) all qualified for the state tournament as the top four wrestlers in each weight class advance.

“I couldn’t be more proud of a team than I am,” CVCA coach Dave Bergen said. “They wrestled with heart from start to finish. [Friday] we took some disappointment. They came back and got their heads into it, and came back with some big wins. We came with 11 and only lost three guys, and we’re sad to lose those guys. But eight of 11, I’m happy with that percentage.”

CVCA isn’t entirely healthy, either. Havener and Maclellan are both dealing with leg issues and both went to the hospital following the Royals’ exit in the team state tournament a couple of weeks ago, but have continued to wrestle through it. Tomasello was scratched during his title match near his left eye and walked off the mat with blood trickling down his face. Andy Dobben wrestled through the district tournament with a broken nose he suffered last week.

“Andy broke his nose, man that thing was just flowing like crazy,” Bergen said. “He looked like a Rocky film. But he gritted through his match and wrestled tough. He’s been in three matches with a broken nose and you wouldn’t know.”

CVCA as a team won with 174 points. St. Vincent St. Mary took third with 127.

The Irish will send six wrestlers to the state tournament, including junior Ryan Skonieczny, who won his 138-pound title match over Crestwood senior Dylan Kager 5-3. As a two-time state placer who hasn’t been satisfied with anything short of the top of the podium in Columbus, St. V-M coach Anthony Gary can see the effort is there.

“He was kind of frustrated with his performance last year. He goes through practice, goes home and eats, does another lift, then wakes up in the morning and runs. In terms of work ethic, he’s definitely put in the time to be in the best spot on Saturday,” Gary said

Sophomore Garret Carter (third place, 120 pounds), senior Mike Rix (third place, 126 pounds), Walter Gibson (fourth place, 132 pounds), junior Aaron Akdins (second place, 182 pounds) and sophomore Drek Brumley (third place, 285 pounds) all advanced.

Adkins didn’t wrestle his title match against Revere’s Stephen Suglio due to minor injuries. Up until then, Suglio had pinned his way through both the sectional and district tournaments.

“I want to keep that momentum going and keep it going through states,” Suglio said. “My goal is nothing less than a state title. I’ve been working all summer for this. Getting a first-period pin, knowing that this guy didn’t stand a chance against you, and taking that into each consecutive match. You want to keep that in your head.”

Walsh Jesuit freshman Alex Mackall took first in the 106-pound weight class with a 9-4 decision. Mackall said most of his goals have been met, but the big one — a state title as a freshman — is the most important. Also for Walsh, junior Nolan Whitely took second place at 132 pounds, losing a tough match 3-2. Archbishop Hoban senior Michael Belknap placed third at 145 pounds with an 11-5 decision over Northwest’s Kyle Harris. Harris tied the match with 20 seconds left before Belknap turned a couple of moves and piled on points.

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