SULLIVAN TWP. — North Ridgeville’s lightweight wrestlers reached the finals in four of the first five weight classes at the 38th Annual Black River J.B. Firestone Invitational on Saturday.
Better still for the Rangers, all four were victorious, giving North Ridgeville a tournament-best four individual champions en route to a third-place finish in the team race with 117 points.
“I’m really proud of these kids,” first-year North Ridgeville coach Josh Bement said. “They really busted their butt in the (wrestling) room, and it shows. To make it in the finals and go four-for-four with the way that they did it — they were all good matches — makes me very happy.
“You can definitely tell the hard work these kids have been putting in has been paying off. I wish we could have had more placers, but I’m really happy with the way these kids wrestled today.”
Sophomore Evan Collier (106), junior Drew Dickson (113) and seniors Bobby Vedda (120) and Mark Carosella (132) made up the quartet of champions for North Ridgeville.
Other area individual champions included Columbia’s Brandon Heidinger (182) and Wellington’s Sam Rodgers (285).
Collier got the ball rolling with a 4-3 victory over Lutheran West’s Tim Mecklenburg in the finals. Dickson made it two-for-two vs. the Longhorns with a 16-1 technical fall over Bryce Deblock.
“I didn’t expect to see (Deblock) in the finals, to be honest with you,” said Dickson, who went 3-0 to improve to 15-0. “They seeded (Black River’s Spencer White) first and me second, and we met in the semifinals. I was able to beat him 8-4, so I was a little disappointed we didn’t meet with the championship on the line.
“I wrestled (Deblock) in the offseason, and I might have already won that match before it even started. I’m not trying to be cocky, I think that’s just how it was.”
Vedda, who upset defending state placer Mike Hozan from Black River 10-8 in overtime in the semifinals, finished the job with a 14-10 victory over Brooklyn’s Lewis Roginsky for his first tournament championship this season.
“I prepared every day in the room and waited for my chance,” said Vedda, who improved to 13-3. “This is my senior year and my goal is take first in every tournament. I was glad I could accomplish that today.
“(Hozan) gave me a great fight and he’s a really good wrestler. I was just glad I was able to pull off some of the moves I’ve been practicing and come out on top.”
Carosella made it a perfect finals for the Rangers when he pinned Port Clinton’s Robbie Peterman in 1:54. It was the first tournament championship of Carosella’s career and he improved to 12-4 on the season.
“This was his first high school championship, and he had pins in the first period in all three matches he wrestled,” Bement said. “It’s unbelievable what he’s done from last year to this year. The work he’s put in over the summer has shown. He’s really intense — all go, no quit. We always know if we want to give a kid a good workout, we’ll put him with Mark.”
Bement was also pleased with Vedda’s performance, especially against Hozan.
“I think I almost lost my voice in that match,” he said. “He almost gave it away in the end there, but I know he was gassed. So was his opponent. But he was able to pull it out. He took advantage of a mistake and stayed solid throughout the entire match. That was the biggest one for him in the whole tournament.”
Heidinger, in the only All-Lorain County championship match, pinned Wellington’s Nick Sutherland in 2:55 to claim the 182-pound championship.
“I’ve wrestled Nick in years past, and we’ve always had good matches and he’s a good guy,” said Heidinger, who went 4-0 with three pins and an 11-3 major decision over Hillsdale’s Dylan Eberly in the semifinals. “I was looking forward to wrestling him in the finals. I hadn’t wrestled him since my sophomore year, but I remembered I could ride legs on him.
“I was surprised he decided to take down to start off the second. But I knew that was my strength going into the match and that’s what I was able to use to capitalize.”
Columbia, which finished ninth with 79 points, had two third-place matches that weren’t staged because a wrestler had reached the state-mandated five-match-per-day limit, so Shane Lambert (138) and Roman Waked (160) were awarded co-thirds.
Lambert, Waked and Heidinger were the only three placers for the Raiders.
Rodgers, a senior, put the finishing touches on the tournament with a pinfall in 1:04 over Western Reserve’s Ravyn Workman in the heavyweight finals.
“This is my third time placing here and my second time winning it,” said Rodgers, who improved to 6-1 by picking up three pins. “It seemed easier this year, since I pinned my way through. I have more experience under my belt, so I think that helped.
“I’ve been working hard all summer for my senior season. I think all that work made things a little bit easier this tournament.”
Rodgers led Wellington to a seventh-place finish with 86 points — one point ahead of eighth-place New London (85). Cody Alspach, who took third at 170, gave the Dukes three placers.
Host Black River did not have any champions, but had five placers in the top four and finished fifth with 90.5 points — the second-highest finish among area teams in the 14-team field.
“We started off today pretty strong with some early round wins,” Black River coach Chris Kline said. “We actually did better team-wise than I thought we would. But as far as individual placement-wise, we were a little lacking.”
Senior Terry Sas wrestled a tough match against Port Clinton’s Chris Overfield in the 220-pound final, going into a third overtime. However, Overfield outscored Sas, 2-1, in the last extra session to come away with a 3-2 win in a rematch of last season’s final.
Northwestern’s Brett Fortune was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler. He became the first wrestler in the 38-year event to win the tournament four times, completing the feat with a pin of Western Reserve’s Cody Ramage in 2:32.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Northwestern 161.5, 2. Western Reserve 156, 3. North Ridgeville 117, 4. Hillsdale 116, 5. Black River 90.5, 6. Port Clinton 90, 7. Wellington 86, 8. New London 85, 9. Columbia 79, 10. Lutheran West 75, 11. South Central 54, 12. Brooklyn 50, 13. Rocky River 49, 14. Oberlin 10.
106 — FIRST: Evan Collier (North Ridgeville) dec. Tim Mecklenburg (Lutheran West), 4-3; THIRD: Jesse Young (Northwestern) dec. Sabastian Vidika (Black River), 11-7.
113 — FIRST: Drew Dickson (North Ridgeville) tech. fall Bryce Deblock (Lutheran West), 16-1; THIRD: Spencer White (Black River) dec. Nathan Beal (Western Reserve), 12-6.
120 — FIRST: Bobby Vedda (North Ridgeville) dec. Lewis Roginsky (Brooklyn), 14-10; THIRD: Mike Hozan (Black River) pinned Gabe Lilly (New London), 2:50.
126 — FIRST: Chase Griffith (Western Reserve) tech. fall Ryan Rusnak (Lutheran West), 15-0; THIRD: Tyler Berry (Northwestern) dec. Nick Pope (Port Clinton), 14-7.
132 — FIRST: Mark Carosella (North Ridgeville) pinned Robbie Peterman (Port Clinton), 1:54; THIRD: Derek Gregan (Northwestern) pinned Jake Ruppert (Western Reserve), 3:27.
138 — FIRST: Dylan Blanton (South Central) maj. dec. Mason Robson, 13-1; THIRD: Shane Lambert (Columbia) & Noah Dupont (Northwestern) did not wrestle, shared placement.
145 — FIRST: Caleb Barnett (South Central) dec. Casey Bishop (Brooklyn), 9-2; THIRD: Jacob Amburgey (New London) pinned Josh Sommers (Western Reserve), 4:07.
152 — FIRST: Brett Fortune (Northwestern) pinned Cody Ramage (Western Reserve), 2:32; THIRD: Dom Campanalie (Rocky River) dec. K.C. Hale (New London), 5-4.
160 — FIRST: Seth Heldenbrand (Hillsdale) dec. Cole Reed (New London), 15-4; THIRD: Jacob Carrisales (Port Clinton) & Roman Waked (Columbia) did not wrestle, shared placement.
170 — FIRST: Tim Hunkley (Western Reserve) dec. Jake Finley (Hillsdale), 6-2; THIRD: Cody Alspach (Wellington) dec. Joey Meek (Northwestern), 11-6.
182 — FIRST: Brandon Heidinger (Columbia) pinned Nick Sutherland (Wellington), 2:55; THIRD: Zach Wheeler (Port Clinton) pinned Dylan Eberly (Hillsdale), 1:29.
195 — FIRST: Brandyn Mullins (Hillsdale) pinned Brandon Workman (Western Reserve), 3:59; THIRD: Zach Glaser (Northwestern) pinned Ryan Slone (Black River), 2:37.
220 — FIRST: Chris Overfield (Port Clinton) dec. Terry Sas (Black River), 3-2 (3OT); THIRD: Trevor Badertscher (Hillsdale) pinned Tyler Keathley (New London), 4:07.
285 — FIRST: Sam Rodgers (Wellington) pinned Ravyn Workman (Western Reserve), 1:04; THIRD: Joey Workman (Northwestern) pinned Matt Hunter (Northwestern), :58.