BAY VILLAGE — North Ridgeville found a way to climb back into the race for the West Shore Conference Tournament championship with a torrid performance in Saturday night’s finals.
The Rangers erased a huge Bay advantage and took a one-point lead heading into the heavyweight final between North Ridgeville’s Nick Bailey and Bay’s Matt Beniard — meaning whichever wrestler won the match would win the tournament for his team.
Bailey stepped onto the mat, remembered what Rangers coach Josh Bement told him to do … and promptly did the opposite.
“Coach Bement told me to do anything but the headlock,” Bailey said.
Less than a minute into the match, Bailey wrapped his arm around Beniard’s neck, bent over and flipped the Rockets wrestler onto his back for a pin in 58 seconds.
“(Bement) was kind of upset that I didn’t listen to him, but in the end it all worked out,” Bailey said. “It was there, and I took advantage of the situation.”
“Nick kind of knew it was all on him,” Bement said. “He stepped up to the challenge there. He kind of scared me with the headlock like he usually does, but he was able to pull it out.”
Bailey joined Evan Collier and Drew Dickson as individual champions for the Rangers. Collier and Dickson had the unenviable task of taking out the Tepper brothers from Bay.
Collier scored a third-period pin on Ben Tepper to take the 113-pound title, and Dickson followed with a 10-6 decision over Adam Tepper at 120.
“We know they are definitely our biggest rivals in the conference, so we focus on them,” said Collier, who improved to 5-0 against Ben. “He always gives me a good match. I was real disappointed with the way it turned out last time. I got a first-period pin against him, but it didn’t feel right. This definitely felt like a better match.”
Dickson’s win over Adam was surely in the running for match of the tournament. The two battled back and forth before Dickson scored late to pull out the win.
“I majored him 14-4 at the Avon Lake (tournament) and faced him again at our home dual and he really changed up his style a lot,” Dickson said. “He was wrestling off his knees a lot, and it threw me out of whack and I ended up losing 10-8 in overtime. It really stumped me. So I had to get some revenge here.”
While the Teppers couldn’t find success, the Kuchta brothers from Elyria Catholic were lights out.
Austin Kuchta scored a 20-11 major decision over Bay’s Matt Spies — the tournament’s No. 1 seed — to capture the 195-pound championship, then Adam Kuchta pinned Rocky River’s Bill Kelly in the first period to win the 220 title.
“I usually start the momentum and then he comes and destroys everyone in his path,” Austin said. “He did really good. I did pretty good, I guess. It was my first West Shore Conference championship, so it feels pretty good.”
Avon’s Jake DeLorge won his second WSC title with a technical fall over North Ridgeville’s Ricky Godri at 145. With only four wrestlers in his bracket, he needed just two wins to take down the title. He also lost out on bonus points that could have been earned with a first-round match or a bye bonus.
“I really wanted to wrestle more, it’s just more points to help out,” said DeLorge, whose Eagles also passed Bay to finish second. “I was pretty bummed out about that.”
While DeLorge joined the ranks of two-time WSC champs, two wrestlers became three-time champs — Midview’s Zach Frambach and Avon’s Hamza Kirresh.
Frambach won the 160-pound title with a second-period pin of Elyria Catholic’s Jerot Schill, while Kirresh earned a major decision over Bay’s Cory Wright at 182.
“I got down to 160 this week and I wasn’t worried at all,” Frambach said. “I came out here to dominate this year. I don’t look as big as I did at 170 — I kind of slimmed down quite a bit — but I definitely feel stronger than those kids, just kind of whipping them around with no problem.”
All eight WSC schools had at least one champion, and Vermilion’s was junior Spencer Geil at 138. Geil managed to win a 3-0 decision over Avon’s Mark Campo in the final, but scored his biggest upset with a 9-3 win over top-seeded Tony Lupico of Midview in the first round.
“I faced him in the duals and he pinned me,” Geil said. “I was just more aggressive in that match than I’ve been in my other matches this season. Plus, I’ve never beaten a Midview kid before and that was something I wanted to do. I’d never beaten a Ridgeville kid, either, so I accomplished both of those goals this year.
“I went two-and-out here last year, so I knew I wanted to do better. Now I’ll be the returning champion next year.”
The returning team champion will be North Ridgeville, and Bement is hoping the confidence from a conference championship will carry over to next weekend’s sectional tournament.
“Winning definitely breeds more winning,” Bement said. “It’s definitely a big mental game and all they need is that confidence to carry them into the next week. This was huge for the program, the kids really stepped up.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
TEAM STANDINGS: North Ridgeville 163.5, Avon 159.5, Bay 156.5, Midview 92, Elyria Catholic 88.5, Rocky River 81, Lakewood 60, Vermilion 27.
106 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Aaron Kelly (Rocky River) pinned Vince Zitiello (Bay), 3:38. THIRD-PLACE: Fran Rizzo (Avon) dec. Zach Carte (Midview), 2-1.
113 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Evan Collier (North Ridgeville) pinned Ben Tepper (Bay), 5:38. THIRD-PLACE: Dan Mahoney (Rocky River) maj. dec. Jason Grau (Midview), 11-1.
120 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Drew Dickson (North Ridgeville) dec. Adam Tepper (Bay), 10-6. THIRD-PLACE: Brad Sprau (Rocky River) pinned Jack Gothier (Avon), 4:56.
126 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Max Kuchenrither (Avon) pinned Justin Dodge (North Ridgeville), 1:58. THIRD-PLACE: Mason Harsar (Elyria Catholic) dec. David Gadelsayed (Rocky River), 7-1.
132 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Drew Schatz (Midview) pinned Adam Kirresh (Avon), 1:43. THIRD-PLACE: Sean Kilbane (Elyria Catholic) maj. dec. Sean Kegg (North Ridgeville), 19-7.
138 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Spencer Geil (Vermilion) dec. Mark Campo (Avon), 3-0. THIRD-PLACE: Brent Ningard (North Ridgeville) dec. Tony Lupico (Midview), 6-1.
145 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Jake DeLorge (Avon) tech. fall Ricky Godri (North Ridgeville), 17-1. THIRD-PLACE: Seamus Kilbane (Rocky River) pinned Alex Fenner (Bay), 1:59.
152 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Joe Kubinski (Bay) maj. dec. Kolby Hirschfelder (Midview), 9-1. THIRD-PLACE: Tommy Wendling (North Ridgeville) dec. Travis Leopold (Avon), 11-6.
160 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Zach Frambach (Midview) pinned Jerot Schill (Elyria Catholic), 3:53. THIRD-PLACE: Colin Riley (North Ridgeville) pinned Sean Meaney (Bay), 2:07.
170 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Ralph Johnson (Lakewood) pinned Dom Ruma (Bay), 5:24. THIRD-PLACE: Brandon Blakely (Avon) maj. dec. Talon Dorton (North Ridgeville), 10-1.
182 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Hamza Kirresh (Avon) maj. dec. Cody Wright (Bay), 17-7. THIRD-PLACE: Zak Kulina (Lakewood) pinned Jason Koberg (Rocky River), 1:26.
195 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) maj. dec. Matt Spies (Bay), 20-11. THIRD-PLACE: Emmanuel Lewis (Lakewood) dec. Ryan Steinmentz (Avon), 5-4.
220 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Adam Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) pinned Bill Kelly (Rocky River), 1:36. THIRD-PLACE: Joe Travagliante (Avon) dec. Jessie Estep (Vermilion), 4-3.
285 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Nick Bailey (North Ridgeville) pinned Matt Beniard (Bay), :58. THIRD-PLACE: Alex Cranmer (Avon) dec. Roberto Sclimenti (Lakewood), 4-3.