COLUMBIA STATION — It was far from a perfect day for Lorain County wrestlers Saturday at the 39th annual Columbia Wrestling Invitational Tournament.
But for junior twin brothers Austin and Adam Kuchta of Elyria Catholic, it was pretty close.
Austin, wrestling in his first season with the Panthers, improved to 25-0 with two pins and a 15-5 major decision over Cuyahoga Heights’ Bryan Jones in the 195-pound finals.
Adam immediately followed his brother’s performance with a pair of pins and a 9-1 major decision over Westlake’s Ishmael Shafei in the 220 finals to also improve to 25-0.
“To have the opportunity to win (this tournament) again with my brother with me was a lot, lot, lot of fun,” said Adam Kuchta, who became a two-time Columbia Tournament champion while helping the Panthers take fourth with 112 points, the best finish by a Lorain County school. “I’m really proud of my brother that he was able to win a title with me, and our team did pretty good as well, too.”
Adam actually seemed more pumped about Austin’s victory than his own.
“We go at it in the room every day,” he said. “It pumps me up to see him perform well. I don’t even have to get a sweat going on my own, because watching him out there gets me going and I’m already sweating from watching him wrestle. Every time I watch him go, it makes we want to go out there and beat up his opponent along with my own. I’m so happy that he’s got this (championship) plaque, and we’re looking forward to more.”
EC’s Mason Harsar (120) also made the finals, but was handed a 15-0 technical fall loss to Western Reserve’s Nathan Beal. In all, eight Panthers placed.
Lorain County had two other champions in seniors D.J. Murdock (145) of Avon Lake and Midview’s Zach Frambach (160), both of whom were making their season debuts.
Murdock became a two-time Columbia tourney champion with two pins and a technical fall. One of the pins was in the finals over Western Reserve’s Josh Sommers in 3:35.
Murdock was one of three Shoremen wrestlers to reach the finals and helped them take fifth with 95.5 team points.
“This is indescribable — it feels nice,” Murdock said. “I just came back (to the team) a week ago and started wrestling, so I know I’m out of shape. But to come in here and go unbeaten in my first action of the season is great.
“I just had a mental breakdown and decided not to go back out (for the team). Coach (Ken Weaver) called me over Christmas and we had a talk. I decided to come back and start wrestling again, and I’m glad I did.”
Frambach battled back from a football injury to return for this tournament, reaching his first final and claiming his first championship with a 12-6 win over Western Reserve’s Tim Hunkley. Frambach added a pin and a 15-0 technical fall.
“My freshman year, I didn’t wrestle here, but I took fourth as a sophomore and third last year,” Frambach said. “This year, I decided to skip second and go straight for first. I’m just now coming off of a broken leg, so I was a little sloppy out there. I’m still ways away from my conditioning but, hopefully, it’s a long season and I can keep working my way back into the shape I need to be.”
Frambach’s performance helped the Middies take seventh with 63 points.
For the second straight year, Western Reserve won the team championship. Thanks to eight wrestlers reaching the championship match and five of them winning, the Roughriders scored 215 points to dominate the 12-team field.
One of the Roughriders’ champions was 126-pound senior Chase Griffith (17-1), the son of former professional boxing world champion and Sheffield Lake native Mike Griffith, who won a 10-0 major decision over Cuyahoga Heights’ Nate Frye in the finals.
“It’s nice having everybody back full strength and having everybody at full health,” said Western Reserve coach Art McHenry, whose son Dalton wrestled for Elyria a few years ago. “Everybody’s at the right weight class now. We’ve got a full lineup for the first time this year, and everybody’s wrestling like they should be.
“Chase Griffith had a great match against Frye. I was kind of worried, because Frye’s a real strong kid and knows how to kill a match. But Chase weathered the storm and got the job done.”
Westlake, with three individual champions and five finalists, took second with 152.5 points. They were led by senior 170-pounder Logan Paul (20-0), who became a two-time tournament champion with three pinfalls, capped by a 5:39 pin over Lakewood’s Ralph Johnson in the final.
Paul was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler.
“Last year, I set the goal to come in here and win this trophy because I saw how nice it was,” he said. “I was kind of jealous of the kid who won it. It means a lot when your hard work pays off — the whole week of practice, cutting weight and them coming into a tournament and being able to win it. It’s a great feeling.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Western Reserve 215, 2. Westlake 152.5, 3. Cuyahoga Heights 116.5, 4. Elyria Catholic 112, 5. Avon Lake 95.5, 6. Lakewood 76, 7. Midview 63, 8. Fairview 47, 9. Columbia 30, 10. Olmsted Falls 26, 11. Cleveland Central Catholic 5, 12. Oberlin 3.
106 — FIRST: Nick Orr (Cuyahoga Heights) pinned Anthony Gerrone (Avon Lake), 2:42; THIRD: Justin Clark (Columbia) dec. Jason Grau (Midview), 10-3.
113 — FIRST: Cory Pucci (Cuyahoga Heights) dec. Zack Klima (Avon Lake), 3-1; THIRD: Kyle Winebrenner (Western Reserve) pinned Mike Filiaggi (Elyria Catholic), 2:06.
120 — FIRST: Nathan Beal (Western Reserve) tech. fall Mason Harsar (Elyria Catholic), 15-0; THIRD: Chris Chakirelis (Avon Lake) maj. dec. Tom Palisin (Fairview), 13-3.
126 — FIRST: Chase Griffith (Western Reserve) maj. dec. Nate Frye (Cuyahoga Heights), 10-0; THIRD: Joey Bernosky (Avon Lake) tech. fall Austin Lowe (Midview), 16-0.
132 — FIRST: Mason Robson (Western Reserve) maj. dec. Jake Paul (Westlake), 9-0; THIRD: Drew Schatz (Midview) pinned Sean Kilbane (Elyria Catholic), 4:44.
138 — FIRST: Josh Pappas (Westlake) pinned Jake Ruppert (Western Reserve), 4:21; THIRD: Brice Locklear (Olmsted Falls) dec. Roman Krizan (Lakewood), 2-0.
145 — FIRST: D.J. Murdock (Avon Lake) pinned Josh Sommers (Western Reserve), 3:34; THIRD: Kevin Kruger (Westlake) pinned Ben Huff (Cuyahoga Heights), 1:51.
152 — FIRST: Cody Ramage (Western Reserve) dec. Ross Torgerson (Cuyahoga Heights), 6-5; THIRD: Jerot Schill (Elyria Catholic) dec. Brandon Medina (Columbia), 9-2.
160 — FIRST: Zach Frambach (Midview) dec. Tim Hunkley (Western Reserve), 12-6; THIRD: Airren Robinson (Lakewood) dec. Mitch Minnich (Fairview), 8-6.
170 — FIRST: Logan Paul (Westlake) pinned Ralph Johnson (Lakewood), 5:39; THIRD: Kenny Bement (Western Reserve) pinned Josh Pierce (Elyria Catholic), 4:45.
182 — FIRST: Yousef Mustafa (Westlake) maj. dec. Jihad Taye (Fairview), 12-3; THIRD: Zak Kulina (Lakewood) pinned Kyle Fitch (Western Reserve), 2:40.
195 — FIRST: Austin Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) maj. dec. Bryan Jones (Cuyahoga Heights), 15-5; THIRD: Asam Zayed (Westlake) pinned Adam Workman (Western Reserve), 3:06.
220 — FIRST: Adam Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) maj. dec. Ishmael Shafei (Westlake), 9-1; THIRD: Emanuel Lewis (Lakewood) dec. Brandon Workman (Western Reserve), 13-6.
285 — FIRST: Ian Ramos (Western Reserve) pinned Robert Sclimenti (Lakewood), 1:06; THIRD: Ahmad Mustafa (Westlake) pinned Andre Torres (Elyria Catholic), 2:57.