If Kenston felt any pressure heading into the final round of the Chagrin Valley Conference tournament holding a slight lead over Aurora, the Bombers didn’t show it. But Coach Brian Malloy sure did.
“You always feel pressure when you wrestle Aurora,” Malloy said. “But these guys came out ready to wrestle. It was truly a team effort. They wrestled their hearts out, and they wrestled for each other. They really believed in themselves.”
That effort resulted in the Bombers winning the team title with 256 1/2 points. Aurora finished second with 231, and Cuyahoga Heights was third with 213.
Kenston wrestlers cruised through the championship round, winning two individual championships and five of their seven third-place matches. All 14 Kenston wrestlers finished among the top six in their respective weight classes.
Winning individual titles for the Bombers were Tre Smith at 125 and Jake Kazimir at 135. Both wrestlers pinned their way through the tournament.
Kenston wrestlers accumulated 31 falls overall.
“Pinning wins tournaments,” Malloy said. “You can be down, 14-0, but can still win the match. You are always in it, and the guys showed it today.”
Also placing for Kenston were Wesley Newell (second at 103), Andrew Sawayda (third at 112), Ben Kazimir (second at 119), Dennis DiSanto (fourth at 130), Patrick Hanlon (third at 140), Jeremy Etling (third at 145), Brendan Gilday (fifth at 152), Mike Braun (sixth at 160), Weston Kondik (fifth at 171), Mike Fussell (third at 189), Jack Carson (second at 215) and Louis Mantush (third at heavyweight).
Cardinal freshman Casey Johns pinned Cuyahoga Heights’ Nick Chuha in four minutes, 28 seconds to win the 103-pound title. With four wins in the tournament, Johns improved his record to 33-2 on the year.
“It’s exciting,” Johns said. “I just wanted to wrestle my hardest, do my best and have fun.”
Kirtland’s Royal Brettrager was the only other area wrestler to claim an individual title. His 18-6 major decision over Aurora’s Matt Korosec gave Brettrager his first CVC title after finishing second the past two seasons.
“It’s pretty nice,” said Brettrager, who improved to 31-0 on the year and claimed his 102nd career victory. “Hopefully I’ll keep it rolling through the postseason. I want to get a little better, a little faster and a little stronger.”
In a highly anticipated rematch, Harvey’s Ian Jones was edged by Independence’s Greg Dailey, 3-1, in overtime. Jones is 19-2, and both losses are to Dailey.
Other area wrestlers to place among the top six were Berkshire’s Jason Kaser (sixth at 125); Cardinal’s Chad Zeigler (second at 152); Chagrin Falls’ Tommy Kuenzig (sixth at 171), Hunter Phillips (sixth at 189) and Thomas Tesar (sixth at heavyweight); Fairport’s J.C. Giffin (second at 140); Harvey’s Ian Simmons (second at 135), Tino Vargas (sixth at 152), Devonte Martin-Rouse (fourth at 160) and Juan Arias (sixth at 215); Hawken’s Mikey Baratz (sixth at 130), Eric Meisel (fourth at 135) and Andrew Thomas (fifth at heavyweight); Kirtland’s John David Hopkins (fifth at 160), Nick Zele (second at 171) and Erick Zuberer (fifth at 215); Perry’s Matt Vendeville (fourth at 112), Tony Sansalone (sixth at 119), Ryan Sill (fifth at 145) and Cody Clark (third at 160); West Geauga’s Mike November (fifth at 112), Dennis Leonetti (third at 119), Jim Carlo (fourth at 125), Scott Willis (third at 130), Frank Mercuri (fifth at 135), Dominic Marotta (fifth at 140), Ben Ditto (fourth at 145) and Andy Bryan (fourth at 171); and Wickliffe’s Cameron Kovac (sixth at 112), Alex Alusheff (fourth at 119), Nick Ranallo (fifth at 189) and Alex Sass (third at 215).