GARFIELD HTS. — Six placers were more than enough to propel Elyria to its third straight Northeast Ohio Conference divisional championship Saturday night.
Junior Armando Torres won the 113-pound title and senior T.J. Halstead captured the heavyweight championship to lead the way for the Pioneers. Also placing were 132-pound runner-up Brandon Egnor, Ben Darmstadt (third at 120), Taylor Workman (third at 160) and Alex Parker (fourth at 145).
“You come into the tournament with high hopes for every kid,” Pioneers coach Erik Burnett said. “Basically, two kids made their goals this weekend, so it’s bittersweet. You like to be conference champs, but you hope that you can build from this and do something later in the season.”
Elyria went unbeaten against five Valley Division rivals in dual meets this season, then was the top tournament performer in the division at this weekend’s NOC Tournament. The Pioneers finished third overall in the tournament field — behind tournament champion and River Division dual champion Brunswick and tournament runner-up and Lake Division dual champion Parma.
The top wrestling match of the weekend involved Elyria freshman Ben Darmstadt, who nearly pulled off an improbable upset of two-time Division I state champion Brandon Thompson of Solon in a 120-pound semifinal.
Thompson led 5-0 in the second period when Darmstadt put the NOC’s first-ever four-time champion on his back.
“He had my arm in a Russian two-on-one and I did like a 360 spin called a tornado and I caught him on his back — I caught him off guard,” Darmstadt said.
Darmstadt picked up four points on the move, but then surrendered five when Thompson hooked his head and pulled Darmstadt over his shoulder for a reversal call and a five-second nearfall. Darmstadt never left Thompson’s back during the exchange and popped his head back out before the final seconds ticked off in the second period, but the official never awarded the Elyria wrestler a reversal.
Darmstadt earned three more points in the third period with an escape and another takedown in the 10-7 loss. It was a much better showing than the pair’s first meeting at the Mentor Duals.
“He actually pinned me in the first period,” Darmstadt said. “I was wrestling way too cautious. That match (Saturday), I pushed the pace a little bit more, got into positions that I like and scored.
“When you score on a top-tier guy like that, score multiple points and not just an escape or a takedown, but two takedowns and back points … it definitely raises your confidence.”
“Ben’s gotta keep believing in himself, and I think he does a nice job with that,” Burnett said. “He keeps his emotions in check, does a nice job out there of not getting too caught up in the moment. He was confident. I think he felt like he belonged out there trying to beat the kid and not just trying to hang in there.”
Another big match was Halstead’s 5-4 semifinal win over Hudson’s Peter Mougey. The Elyria heavyweight was down a point and scored a reversal with one second left in the match.
“You’re supposed to wrestle six full minutes,” Burnett said. “If you wrestle six full minutes, a lot of times you’ll win. That’s what he did. Coming down to the end and he never quit fighting. It’s good to see something good happen to a kid when he wrestles the full six minutes.
“Halstead had a good weekend because recently he hadn’t been having as much success as I think he wanted.”
It was just the second tournament championship of Halstead’s high school career, the other coming at the Northwood Invitational early in his sophomore season. His third-period pin of Valley Forge’s Aaron Crosby allowed the Pioneers to move past Solon to finish as the undisputed top Valley Division performer.
“My coaches told me right afterward that happened, so I’m happy that I was able to do it for them,” Halstead said. “I believe I worked hard enough for it, I wrestled hard enough, never stopped believing in myself. Now it’s time to get into the grind, push through and get to the state tournament and try to place or win it.”
Torres became a two-time NOC champion with his 11-0 major decision over Mentor’s Colin Kramer.
“It’s always nice, especially in this conference with 18 teams,” Torres said of his title. “It’s one of the top conferences in the state. I’m happy about it right now, but I’m always looking forward. The big part of the season is coming up.”
Elyria’s third finalist was Egnor, who was locked in a tight match with Parma’s T.J. Levitsky when Egnor tried to create some offense and it backfired on him. Levitsky ended up winning 7-1.
“I tried to do a fireman’s but I didn’t do it right,” said Egnor, who won an NOC title last season. “I went to my hip and that allowed him to take me down to my back. So I messed that up.
“I still feel confident. (The match) let me know what I need to work on. I need to cut weight better, move my feet more, just stuff to improve on for the next time I see him or anybody else.”
That will be the theme in the Elyria wrestling room for the next two weeks until the Division I sectional in Mansfield.
“There are things we need to work on,” Burnett said. “If they can fix some of these things, they’ll be OK. If they don’t, things may not end the way they want this year.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
TEAM STANDINGS: Brunswick 160.5, Parma 159, Elyria 146.5, Solon 145, Hudson 137, North Royalton 125, Strongsville 118, Garfield Heights 109, Shaker Heights 101, Mentor 96, Cuyahoga Falls 82, Twinsburg 75.5, Stow 58.5, Mayfield 28, Valley Forge 26, Normandy 21, Medina 10, Brush 6.
106 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Josh Heil (Brunswick) dec. Garrett Lambert (Strongsville), 4-1. THIRD-PLACE: Kyle Jenkins (Stow) dec. Andre Lowery (Shaker Heights), 4-3. FIFTH-PLACE: Daniel Clement (Solon) dec. Tyler Corradi (Garfield Heights), 8-5.
113 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Armando Torres (Elyria) maj. dec. Colin Kramer (Mentor), 11-0. THIRD-PLACE: Reginald Lowery (Shaker Heights) dec. Brett Thomas (Brunswick), 2-0 (OT). FIFTH-PLACE: Nathan Langston (Solon) pinned Sam D’Amico (Strongsville), 2:46.
120 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Brandon Thompson (Solon) maj. dec. Dan Bartinelli (North Royalton), 9-1. THIRD-PLACE: Ben Darmstadt (Elyria) pinned Micah Shorts (Shaker Heights), 1:36. FIFTH-PLACE: Tyler Workman (Parma) dec. Jeremy Rezabek (Strongsville), 8-2.
126 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Alec Benedetti (North Royalton) maj. dec. Chris Motter (Hudson), 12-2. THIRD-PLACE: Chayse Csongedi (Parma) dec. Chris Wymer (Solon), 7-3. FIFTH-PLACE: Zack Taylor (Brunswick) dec. Mark Molder (Mentor), 6-1.
132 — CHAMPIONSHIP: T.J. Levitsky (Parma) dec. Brandon Egnor (Elyria), 7-1. THIRD-PLACE: Nicholas Bishop (Mayfield) dec. Xavier Wasco (North Royalton), 3-2. FIFTH-PLACE: Alex Barich (Mentor) defeated Nathan Gregory (Hudson) by default.
138 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Ricky Perez (Strongsville) pinned Dane Morgan (North Royalton), 3:22. THIRD-PLACE: Austin Tomoletz (Mentor) dec. Kyle Workman (Parma), 5-4. FIFTH-PLACE: Brandon White (Hudson) dec. Austin Fallon (Brunswick), 3-0.
145 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Tyrone McGuinea (Twinsburg) maj. dec. Shamiko Samdian (Garfield Heights), 15-6. THIRD-PLACE: Dave Docherty (Parma) dec. Alex Parker (Elyria), 12-5. FIFTH-PLACE: Brandon Bryant (Brunswick) dec. Dylan League (North Royalton), 6-2.
152 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Anthony Collica (Solon) tech. fall Davis Celinski (Garfield Heights), 23-8. THIRD-PLACE: Nick Planicka (Stow) maj. dec. Ray Floyd (Brunswick), 13-3. FIFTH-PLACE: Cameron Mayell (North Royalton) dec. Noah Edwards (Twinsburg), 3-0.
160 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Michael Coleman (Hudson) pinned Alex Keller (Twinsburg), 4:50. THIRD-PLACE: Taylor Workman (Elyria) dec. Brian Hawkins (Solon), 1-0. FIFTH-PLACE: Danny Andrews (Strongsville) defeated Austin Wilson (Cuyahoga Falls) by default.
170 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Tyler Hughes (Brunswick) tech. fall Josh Zeck (Parma), 15-0. THIRD-PLACE: Shaqville Morehouse (Solon) dec. Craig Sloan (Garfield Heights), 2-1. FIFTH-PLACE: Javon Tolliver (Shaker Heights) dec. Eric Powers (Normandy) 5-2.
182 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Danny Tiley (Hudson) dec. Justin Halaska (Parma), 3-1. THIRD-PLACE: Jacob Puntel (Strongsville) dec. Dean Warchak (Brunswick), 4-1. FIFTH-PLACE: Aaron Wank (Mentor) pinned Elliot Simpson (Garfield Heights), 2:44.
195 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Joey Repasky (Cuyahoga Falls) pinned Mike Lewis (Parma), 2:58. THIRD-PLACE: Zack Vehar (Hudson) pinned Anthony Kastelic (Garfield Heights), 2:14. FIFTH-PLACE: Phillip Jaggers (Solon) dec. Chris Wright (Stow), 6-0.
220 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Rudy Ware (Cuyahoga Falls) dec. Kevin Agee (Shaker Heights), 10-9. THIRD-PLACE: Garrett Snyder (North Royalton) dec. Matt Perdue (Brunswick), 9-3. FIFTH-PLACE: Justin Gauden (Strongsville) pinned Onome Omobien (Twinsburg).
285 — CHAMPIONSHIP: T.J. Halstead (Elyria) pinned Aaron Crosby (Valley Forge), 4:45. THIRD-PLACE: Peter Mougey (Hudson) pinned Billy Hudson (Mentor), 3:54. FIFTH-PLACE: Samson Demand (Cuyahoga Falls) dec. Luke Senko (North Royalton), 2-1.