MENTOR — It was an all-around stellar night for Lorain County at the Division I district tournament, as 19 area wrestlers went unbeaten into the semifinals during Friday’s opening session.
Elyria led the way with eight wrestlers who won two matches and now sit a win away from the state tournament. The Pioneers are second in the team standings to St. Edward, which had all 14 wrestlers qualify to the Mentor district and went a jaw-dropping 27-1.
Stealing the area spotlight was Midview, which had three of its four district qualifiers advance to the semifinals.
The first to do it was Zak Anderson at 126 pounds. The senior is making his fourth district tournament appearance and had lost his district opener the first three years. He ended the skid with a third-period pin of Painesville Riverside’s Tyler Wittreich, then won 4-2 over Perrysburg’s Allenson Denkins.
“I had to just play it safe that first match and get it out of the way, and I knew if I wrestled hard I’d make it to the semis,” Anderson said. “I’ve got the best shot (of my career) to make it to the state tournament, where I’ve wanted to be since I was 5 years old. I’m pumped.”
Joining him in the semifinals are Andrew Philion at 145 pounds and Daniel Bucknavich, who pinned his way there, at 285.
Philion opened with a second-period pin of Ashland’s Ashden Maffett, then used a late takedown to pull out a 4-3 decision over Perrysburg’s Alex Garee, who is ranked No. 6 in the state.
“I just went out there, wrestled my match, did what I wanted to do and got the win,” Philion said. “It’s awesome knowing one win and you’re there.
“Having all these (Midview) semifinalists with me, my drill partner right here — we drill hard every day, we go at each other and make ourselves better — it feels amazing.”
Philion is involved in one of two All-Lorain County semifinals. He will face Avon’s Tommy Sear this morning — the winner will earn a state tournament berth and either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed — while Avon’s Cael Saxton and Elyria’s Peyton Fenton will square off in a 106 semifinal.
Lorain senior Daniel Findley kept the county theme going in the 145 bracket, reaching the semifinals after an opening 17-7 major decision over Reynoldsburg’s Kyle Copas and an 8-4 win over Oregon Clay’s Alex Szigeti, who is ranked No. 14 in the state.
“I’ve had a long career in high school — never making it out of sectionals my freshman year and not even getting the chance to wrestle at sectionals the last two years — and it’s put a lot of motivation on my back,” Findley said. “I just gave it all I had all year for this moment.
“It’s a big weight lifted off your mind knowing you’re in the semis and you haven’t lost, it’s not a do-or-die match at this point. I still have to wrestle the same way I would as if I had lost all my matches or if I’d won them all.”
Probably the biggest individual performance Friday by an area wrestler came from Avon Lake senior Abud Salem, who opened with a dominating 8-4 victory over Fremont Ross’ Jackson Weissinger — ranked No. 5 in the state — before winning a 15-5 major decision over Mentor’s Joey Ricco.
“To me, rankings don’t mean anything,” Salem said. “I was thinking I could win that match. My coaches told me it doesn’t matter what you’re ranked, these kids can fold any second if you go hard. So that was my mentality the whole time … to just have confidence and I knew I could achieve my goal.
“I just went hard. My coaches just kept yelling from the corner, ‘Be a hammer,’ so that’s what I did.”
Joining the upset parade was St. Edward’s Hudson Poole, an Avon Lake resident, who scored an 8-6 overtime victory over Mentor’s Nick Sabin, who is ranked No. 8 in the state.
The only area athlete who suffered an upset loss was Elyria senior Matt Zuckerman, a three-time state qualifier ranked No. 4 in the state, who lost a controversial quarterfinal 9-8 to Findlay’s Jonah Smith, who is ranked No. 14.
TEAM STANDINGS: St. Edward 135, Elyria 90, Oregon Clay 63.5, Ashland 58, Avon 42, Perrysburg 40, Mentor 29.5, Midview 29, Findlay 26, North Olmsted 25.5, Fremont Ross 21, Madison 18, Painesville Riverside 18, Olmsted Falls 15, Toledo St. John’s Jesuit 15, Anthony Wayne 12, Westlake 11, Avon Lake 10, Toledo Waite 10, Lima Senior 9, Euclid 8, Lorain 8, Mayfield 8, Toledo Whitmer 8, John Adams 7, Brush 4, Eastlake North 4, North Ridgeville 4, St. Charles 4, Willoughby South 4, Lakeside 3.5, Mansfield Madison 2, Sylvania North 2, Amherst 0.
106 — Sean Seefeldt (SE) vs. Jeffrey Kennedy (NO); Cael Saxton (Avon) vs. Peyton Fenton (Elyria).
113 — Richard Delsanter (SE) vs. Jacob Moon (OC); Jerome Scott (JA) vs. Bryce Allison (Elyria).
120 — Ricardo Oviedo (TW) vs. Nate Burnett (Elyria); Hudson Poole (SE) vs. Case George (Ashland).
126 — Max Turner (TSJJ) vs. Dylan Shawver (Elyria); Zak Anderson (Midview) vs. Angelo Rini (SE).
132 — Scott Richter (SE) vs. Nate DeBoe (Mentor); Mick Burnett (Elyria) vs. Blake Saito (Perrysburg).
138 — Bryce Hepner (SE) vs. Jayden Jones (Ashland); Jonah Smith (Findlay) vs. Connor DeBoe (Mentor).
145 — Tommy Sear (Avon) vs. Andrew Philion (Midview); Daniel Findley (Lorain) vs. Bryce Andonian (SE).
152 — Markie McElroy (PR) vs. Enrique Munguia (Elyria); Sam Dover (SE) vs. Austin McNamara (Ashland).
160 — Liam Kruger (Westlake) vs. Naeem Russell (LS); Padraic Gallagher (SE) vs. Abud Salem (AL).
170 — Jacob Meek (OC) vs. Michael Garcar (SE); Jake Evans (Elyria) vs. Brody Arrundale (Madison).
182 — Hudson Hightower (SE) vs. Ethan Garee (Perrysburg); Josh Nagy (OC) vs. Caiden Fetterman (OF).
195 — Justin Jaeckin (OF) vs. Ty Cobb (OC); Jordan Greer (Avon) vs. Caleb Wood (FR).
220 — Jake Noon (Findlay) vs. Andrew Levis (Elyria); Josh Bever (Ashland) vs. Seamus O’Malley (SE).
285 — Jack Roesch (Avon) vs. Brian Kilbane (SE); Daniel Bucknavich (Midview) vs. Tyler Jones (NO).
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