WADSWORTH: Going into Saturday night’s finals of the 26th annual Grizzly Invitational Tournament, host Wadsworth found itself in a battle with Oregon Clay to win its own tournament. .
Call it a collective resolve and a sense of history, but the Grizzly wrestlers were not letting another team take home the championship trophy, especially this year.
For the 11th consecutive year and 17th time, it was Wadsworth that had its name engraved on the tournament trophy as the Grizzlies racked up 504.5 points and Oregon Clay finished with 477.5.
The Grizzlies really wanted this one, knowing this was the last year the tournament would be wrestled in the West Gym. The new high school building will open this fall.
“We used it as motivation,” Grizzlies coach John Gramuglia said. “There were a lot of good teams here. People sometimes think we bring in patsies here. We bring in tough, tough teams; Garfield Heights won a state title and we beat them here. [Bedford St. Peter] Chanel has won state titles and we beat them here.”
Wrestlers like four-time champion and three-time state placer Kagan Squire have literally grown up around the gym and the wrestling program, admiring wrestlers like Timmy Miller, Adam Mellon and Kagan’s brother Brad Squire.
In the 132-pound final, Kagan Squire, the state runner-up last year at 125 pounds, won a critical head-to-head match with Oregon Clay’s Jacob Conine. It was a 9-3 decision with the Grizzlies ahead by only a few team points. The senior was named tournament co-MVP.
In the West Gym where the 2010 Division I state championship banner hangs, Squire said the team wanted to win the final Grizzly Invitational here.
“I have a lot feelings about it. There is so much history in this gym … our wrestling room … all the greats that have wrestled here … it means a lot to us,” Squire said.
The other co-MVP, four-time Grizzly Invitational champion and two-time state champion Nick Tavanello, was also cognizant of wrestling in the final Grizzly Invitational here, defeating Mike Brown of Sandusky with a 3-0 decision.
“It is very memorable, this being the last GIT. It means I will be the last heavyweight champion to win the GIT in this building,” Tavanello said. “There are multiple kids here ranked high and to win this tournament helps me get ready for the state tournament.
Gramuglia was pleasantly surprised how much it meant for the kids to win.
“Good for them. You know too many kids just want to throw things like this away and not cherish it and hang on to it,” Gramuglia said.
The veteran Wadsworth coach praised several wrestlers for wrestling well in the tournament, including Chris Baughman and Cody Gordon.
Baughman, a senior, won the 145-pound title by technical fall 17-2 against Robby Klose of Warren Howland.
Gordon was the 152-pound champion winning a major decision over Brandon James of Southeast 18-10.
“It’s funny how over the years you get champions who are close in weight classes like Chris and Cody. They really stepped up,” Gramuglia said.
“As a senior to win it here in my last year here, before this building is torn down, means a lot to me,” Gordon said
Other local champions were Josh Cuenot of GlenOak at 195 and Kevin Stock of Garrettsville at 182.
Oregon Clay had two champions out of five wrestlers who made it to the finals in Nick McNutt at 106, a 1-0 winner over Zach Gibson of Southeast, and Jarred Gray at 220.
J.R. Perry of Warren Howland was the 120-pound champion, Jake Ryan at 138 and Roy Daniels at 160 of Liberty Olentangy. Gus Adams of Ryle, Ky., was the 113-pound winner, and teammate T. J. Ruschell won at 126.
Squire said it will be hard to watch when the gym is torn down.
“It will be very emotional,” Squire said.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/varsity_letters/