ELYRIA — The two Elyria seniors came away with big wins in what was scheduled to be their final career home match — the Pioneers will actually wrestle once more at home in the OHSAA dual team regional semifinals Wednesday — and nearly everyone else on the roster had a hand in Elyria’s 42-27 non-conference win over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy on Saturday night.
The dual meet was expected to be one for the ages. Elyria is ranked No. 4 in the state in Division I, while CVCA is ranked No. 3 in Division II. Each team has seven state-ranked wrestlers — CVCA has two who are nationally ranked and Elyria one.
“We wrestle mostly D-I competition so this is not out of the norm for us,” CVCA coach Dave Bergen said. “These guys are good guys — we know them — so that makes it even better. I always like wrestling the best competition we can find.”
The Royals jumped out to an 11-0 lead — sparked by a first-period pin by junior Jacob Decatur, who’s ranked No. 1 in the nation at 106 pounds — before Elyria erased the deficit thanks to decision victories by Dylan Shawver (120) and senior Brendon Fenton (126), and a technical fall by Mick Burnett (132).
The spotlight was securely on Fenton’s matchup with CVCA senior Matthew Cardello. Fenton is a two-time Division I state champion and ranked No. 2 in the state, while Cardello is the projected Division II state champ.
“I thought it was a ‘money’s worth’ match,” Elyria coach Erik Burnett said. “I think just coming out and seeing that match in itself was worth being here. I thought both boys wrestled lights out, so it was a very nice win for Brendon.”
The pair wrestled through a scoreless first period before Fenton went up 1-0 after choosing the bottom position to start the second and earning a quick escape point. Cardello chose the down position to start the third and Fenton rode him out, but not before securing a two-second nearfall midway through the period.
“Once I got that nearfall I felt like the pressure went because if he got away then he has to take me down. I have some space to work with and he has to push the pace,” Fenton said. “The last time I wrestled him was during the semis at Philo, and that was a real close match. I know he’s beaten a lot of good kids, he’s been in and out of the national rankings, so I knew it was going to be a good match.”
CVCA regained the lead, 15-11, when junior Jordan Decatur — ranked No. 8 in the nation at 126 pounds — scored a 15-6 major decision over Matt Zuckerman, who waged a fierce battle to avoid surrendering the two extra bonus points.
The other Elyria senior, Joshua Breeding, made sure the lead was short-lived as he answered with a 13-0 major decision of Dalton Duvall, then Farouq Muhammed gave the Pioneers the lead for good with a 15-second pin of Justin West.
“I love my team so I knew I had to get the points for them. It wasn’t hard doing what I knew I had to do,” Muhammed said. “I’ve been wrestling kind of nervous during the season and one of the things (Coach) Burnie and I have been working on is just having fun on the mat. So right before I went out there he was like, ‘Remember to have fun,’ so I was like, ‘All right, let’s score points and have fun.’ (West) gave me the throw, I took it and easy six (points).”
It was all downhill from there as Elyria earned forfeit wins in three of the next four weight classes and Haydon Rockman used a big throw for a five-point swing that broke open a tied match late in the third period.
“That was clutch. Haydon’s got some tricks in his bag, and he’s wrestling better now than he has been and I think he did a great job,” Burnett said. “Guys pretty much did their jobs tonight. It was one of those things where if you’re winning, let’s go try and get bonus (points) but if you’re losing, because they had some studs, your job becomes keeping the damage to a minimum.”
Elyria 42, CVCA 27
106 — Caden Scarbrough (C) tech. fall Colin Noel, 19-2. 113 — Jacob Decatur (C) pinned Isaiah Torres, 1:30. 120 — Dylan Shawver (E) dec. Matthew Williams, 8-2. 126 — Brendon Fenton (E) dec. Matthew Cardello, 3-0. 132 — Mick Burnett (E) tech. fall Danny Sinchok, 20-5. 138 — Jordan Decatur (C) maj. dec. Matt Zuckerman, 15-6. 145 — Joshua Breeding (E) maj dec. Dalton Duvall, 13-0. 152 — Farouq Muhammed (E) pinned Justin West, :15. 160 — Jake Evans (E) won by forfeit. 170 — Haydon Rockman (E) dec. Joe Morales-Rodriguez, 9-4. 182 — Lewis Aguilar (E) won by forfeit. 195 — Andrew Levis (E) won by forfeit. 220 — Breslin Walker (E) pinned Timothy Kenska, 1:09. 285 — Matt Holman (E) pinned Kobe Thomas, 3:17.
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