EATON TWP. — While Avon senior Jack Roesch came up short in Round 2 of his heavyweight season series with Midview’s Daniel Bucknavich on Saturday, the Eagles soared over the competition to capture the Southwestern Conference tournament championship.
Avon outpaced runner-up Berea-Midpark to earn a share of the league’s overall title, as the Titans went unbeaten during the regular-season dual meets. It was Avon’s first conference championship since winning the final two West Shore Conference titles in 2014-15, and the first of coach Jeremy Johnson’s career.
“It feels great to win. The kids just wrestled great,” Johnson said. “Ever since losing to Berea-Midpark in our home gym in the dual in the school, this was a goal for us — to come here and take the title and beat Berea-Midpark.”
Avon finished with four champions, five finalists and eight placers to compile 163.5 points. Berea-Midpark had three champs, four finalists and nine placers to finish with 141.
Capturing the first title for Avon was Cael Saxton, who won an 18-2 technical fall over North Olmsted’s Jeffrey Kennedy in the 106-pound final.
“Last season, one of my goals as a freshman was to be conference champ and it didn’t happen, obviously,” Saxton said.
“It means a lot more this year because of the team (title). All year one of our team’s biggest goals was to be conference champ, and to be part of that, to come through with bonus points, to help the team bring home the first conference championship in a little while … it was special.”
Tommy Sear was the next to win a title for the Eagles, picking up his third league championship. He didn’t wrestle in the SWC tournament last year, missing his entire junior season after having shoulder surgery.
“I did my best with the opportunity I was given, that’s kind of how I look at it,” Sear said.
“Yeah, it’d be nice to be a four-timer and all, but I wasn’t really given that opportunity. So I made the best of what I had and I’m proud of that.”
Sear has performed well during his comeback season and is expected to be one of several Avon wrestlers to compete for state berths at the Mentor district.
“He’s had a tremendous career and I think it’s only going to get better here in the next three weeks,” Johnson said. “I’m super proud of the kid. You can always count on him to go out and give his best effort.”
Luke Masisak then won the 152-pound title to clinch the tournament title for the Eagles before junior Jordan Greer added another championship for good measure at 195 pounds.
“I was super-motivated,” Greer said of winning his first league title. “Obviously last year losing to (Midview’s Seth) Frambach in the finals, that kind of sucked. He was a senior and that was his year. Personal-wise, I wanted this for a long time. Two years with no conference championship? Who wants that?”
Besides Bucknavich, the only other area wrestlers to win SWC titles were Avon Lake’s John Perry at 138 and Amherst’s Russell Hellinger at 220.
Perry’s finals matchup with Amherst’s Tim Carrion was unique as it featured a pair of returning SWC champions searching for their second title. Perry won at 126 pounds last season while Carrion won at 138.
Carrion scored first with a takedown and held a lead late in the second period, but Perry came out on top after a scramble … and then saw he was on top. He picked up the pin at 3:48.
“I just dove in for a double and ended up between his legs and I was somehow able to turn him, then somehow he was on his back,” Perry said. “It was a surprise. I didn’t expect to find him on his back like that.”
Hellinger earned his title with a 3-1 overtime victory over North Ridgeville’s Patrick MacGregor, a result that didn’t surprise him a bit.
“That was the third time I’ve wrestled him this season and it’s the third time in overtime,” said Hellinger, who won all three matchups. “It’s tiring, but it’s fun. We’re just going to keep battling until the end.”
But the spotlight match was the heavyweight final, as Bucknavich is ranked No. 4 in the state and Roesch is ranked No. 5. The pair met in the 285 final at the Bill Dies Memorial at Akron Firestone on Jan. 19, with Bucknavich winning by pin.
“It’s fun,” Johnson said. “Yeah, we’re on the losing side of it and I’m sure Jack’s very upset still, but that’s motivation right there. We closed the gap on him. He pinned us last time and this time we lost by one. This was just practice. Next week the real season begins.”
After escapes to begin the second and third periods, Roesch took a 3-1 lead when Bucknavich was hit with a pair of technical violations — the first for grabbing Roesch’s singlet during a takedown attempt and the second for hands to the face.
Bucknavich pulled to within one when Roesch was hit with his second stall call, then immediately hit a takedown on the edge to take a one-point lead with five seconds remaining in the match.
“I’m not happy with (the win),” Bucknavich said. “I messed up a lot. While he was posting, I didn’t shoot. I could have done a lot better. He was a lot more physical and he didn’t get as tired. I had to work a little bit harder.”
The fireworks at heavyweight did provide a highlight for the host Middies, who captured the SWC title last year but were out of the race early this season.
“It was nice letting Midview come out with one championship at least,” Bucknavich said. “We don’t have as many juniors and seniors as we did last year.”
TEAM STANDINGS: Avon 163.5, Berea-Midpark 141, Westlake 111.5, Olmsted Falls 103.5, Amherst 87, Midview 86, North Olmsted 75, Avon Lake 68, North Ridgeville 50.
106 — FIRST: Cael Saxton (Avon) tech. fall Jeffrey Kennedy (NO), 18-2. THIRD: Cole Yuhas (W) dec. Zach Short (M), 8-6.
113 — FIRST: Pino Dipierro (BM) pinned Cainan Comerford (OF), :42. THIRD: Ethan Sear (Avon) pinned Mahdi Shoman (NO), 3:45.
120 — FIRST: Shane Heil (BM) dec. Cade Robertson (Avon), 7-2. THIRD: Adam Lough (Amherst) dec. Alexander Reagon (NO), 3-2.
126 — FIRST: Caden Wendling (BM) dec. Jacob Dunstan (NR), 3-2. THIRD: Zak Anderson (M) pinned Brandon Bratovich (Amherst), 1:56.
132 — FIRST: Thaer Zayed (W) dec. James Hutchinson (M), 11-4. THIRD: Ethan Shepard (AL) dec. Zach Hossele (BM), 9-4.
138 — FIRST: John Perry (AL) pinned Tim Carrion (Amherst), 3:48. THIRD: Nate Urry (OF) tech. fall Craig Miller (BM), 15-0.
145 — FIRST: Tommy Sear (Avon) maj. dec. Jared Viancourt (NR), 11-0. THIRD: Isaac Carmichael (W) dec. Frank Gardner (AL), 7-5.
152 — FIRST: Luke Masisak (Avon) maj. dec. Connor Atkins (OF), 9-0. THIRD: Hunter Ashburn (W) maj. dec. Pablo Cruz (M), 11-2.
160 — FIRST: Liam Kruger (W) pinned Abud Salem (AL), :36. THIRD: Jonathon West (Amherst) pinned Garrett Hruby (M), 2:08.
170 — FIRST: Dalton Diaz (NO) dec. Jimmy Paletta (BM), 8-2. THIRD: Aaron Endrizal (Avon) dec. Fares Zayed (W), 8-2.
182 — FIRST: Caiden Fetterman (OF) dec. Moe Zayed (W), 5-0. THIRD: Ronald Williams (BM) maj. dec. Clay Carpenter (Amherst), 10-2.
195 — FIRST: Jordan Greer (Avon) dec. Justin Jaeckin (OF), 5-1. THIRD: Zach Porch (BM) dec. Salah Al-Najjar (NO), 4-3.
220 — FIRST: Russell Hellinger (Amherst) dec. Patrick MacGregor (NR), 3-1 (SV). THIRD: Mason Bingham (Avon) dec. Jack Chapman (BM), 3-0.
285 — FIRST: Daniel Bucknavich (M) dec. Jack Roesch (Avon), 4-3. THIRD: Jerry White (OF) dec. Tyler Jones (NO), 4-2.