Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
January 23, 2020
Kenston 138-pound junior Maison Benz and 145-pound senior Nick Nastasi rolled with some of Ohio’s best and brought home a pair of thirds during the 33rd Bill Dies Tournament Friday and Saturday at Akron Firestone.
Benz (21-5) is unranked on the mats but went 5-1 in the tournament with a pair of victories against state-ranked foes from Canfield and Green.
And Nastasi (23-3), who is ranked No. 9 among Division I wrestlers in the state, according to Boro Fan Ohio, also went 5-1 in the tournament with victories against state-ranked opponents from Medina Buckeye, Stow-Munroe Falls and Parma.
The 138- and 145-pound weight classes are tied for the second deepest in Division I in Ohio, according to Boro Fan.
Overall, Kenston wrestling finished 22nd with 61 points among 36 teams in the tournament. Also recording winning marks for the Bomber matmen, 126-pound freshman Lucas Simmons (11-9) and 152-pound freshman Ben DiMarco (12-7) both finished the tournament 3-2.
At 138 pounds, Benz made quick work of his first two opponents with a pin against Akron Springfield freshman Nicholas Holmes in 1:05 and a 13-2 major decision against Brunswick senior Brandon Tarnai (16-7).
In the quarterfinals, Benz locked horns with Canfield junior McCoy Watkins (13-9), who was ranked No. 18 at 145 pounds in Division II, before recently cutting weight to the 138-pound weight class. Benz clawed out an 8-6 sudden victory in overtime.
Benz then lost his only bout of the weekend by way of a first-period fall against Streetsboro senior Sam Miller (16-4) during the semifinals. Miller is ranked No. 12 among Division II wrestlers at 138 pounds in Ohio.
Benz bounced back with a 9-7 decision over Norton junior Jayden Morr (18-7) in the consolation semis, before the Bomber grappler won his third-place bout by a second-period pin against Green sophomore Nate Booth (16-9), who is ranked No. 24 among Division I wrestlers in Ohio.
It was Benz’s second straight year placing at the Dies Tourney, after finishing eighth at the higher weight of 145 pounds last season.
At 145 pounds this year, Kenston’s Nastasi was even more decisive against his first two opponents, pinning Canfield freshman Noah Frank (10-7) in 28 seconds and then pinning host Firestone senior Josh Panchana (10-7) in 19 seconds.
In the quarterfinals, Nastasi defeated Buckeye’s Division II state No. 19-ranked sophomore Trevor Badiu (27-6) by an 8-6 decision.
Nastasi then lost his lone bout of the tournament in the semifinals by way of a 3-1 decision against Olentangy Liberty’s Division I state No. 7-ranked junior Lucas Uliano (12-1), who placed seventh during the state tournament at 126 pounds last season.
The Bomber grappler rebounded with a 4-1 decision over Stow-Munro Falls’ Division I state No. 18-ranked sophomore JR Reed (15-8) in the consolation semifinals.
And in his third-place bout, Nastasi won a 3-2 decision against Parma’s Division I state No. 8-ranked junior Daniel Devera (26-2).
Devera was 25-0 before losing by fall against Brecksville-Broadview Heights’ Division I state No. 1-ranked junior Victor Voinovich in the semifinals. Voinovich finished third at 152 pounds during last year’s state championship, before dropping a weight class this year.