• Dr. Herpy

Comet matmen roll past Kenston, eye league tourney

Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
February 14, 2019
Tony Lange

Solon only won six bouts during a road wrestling dual against Kenston on Friday night in Bainbridge Township, but the Comet matmen came away with a decisive 49-18 victory.

Behind wins from state-ranked senior Jake Canitano, 120 pounds, and junior Trysten Zahoransky, 138 pounds, as well as a dogfight victory on the 132-pound mat, the Solon grapplers cruised to the team triumph.

Although Kenston won five matches, the Bombers forfeited three weight classes for the misleading final score.

“I think the match was deceiving, because we won by quite a bit, but Kenston’s kind of been plagued by a lot of injuries this year, and actually some of their best wrestlers were out against us,” Solon fourth-year head coach Audie Atienza said. “So, it’s not really indicative of how really it could have gone for us.

“Yeah, we’re happy with the outcome, but we know it could have gone either way. We were really close going into it. So, Ricky Deubel does a good job, and he has his guys ready every time, but, like I said, we’re happy with the outcome. It’s a good way to go into the last couple weeks of the season.”

Kenston’s top wrestler, 145-pound junior Nick Nastasi, has been out with a shoulder injury all season, but he wasn’t the only varsity Bomber missing in action on Friday.

Both Solon and Kenston were regional quarterfinalists during Division I team duals the preceding Saturday at Maple Heights, where Kenston third-year head coach Ricky Deubel’s dad was a state runner-up in 1975, uncle was a state champ in 1978 and cousin was a state champ in 1994. Deubel was a two-time state champion for the Bombers.

On Friday, Solon 120-pound senior Canitano remained unbeaten at 32-0 this season with a pin. He is ranked third among Division I wrestlers in the state this season, according to Boro Fan Ohio.

“What we try to do is challenge him in areas where he has, I don’t even want to say deficiencies, but where he needs the most work,” Atienza said about getting Canitano to improve on the margins after finishing third in the state last season.

“We train him on getting better in all positions and just keeping him focused on what his goals are and making sure he’s doing all the things he needs to do to accomplish them,” the coach said. “And we challenge him in the room quite a bit, and he’s responded really well.

“So, hopefully, he turns out the way we’re hoping and we get him where he needs to be. He’s ready, though. He’s worked hard all four years he’s been with us, and this year’s no different.”

Specifically in tournament action, Canitano ran the table at his home Comet Classic and the North Coast Classic, and he had key victories against Elyria’s Division I state No. 7-ranked freshman Nate Burnett, 3-1, and Louisville’s Division II state No. 3-ranked sophomore Garett Lautzenheiser, 2-0, during the Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament.

Lautzenheiser finished fourth in the Division II state championships last year. But, after the 2-0 victory against Lautzenheiser in Brecksville, Canitano went on to defeat the Louisville grappler, 6-1, during the Maumee Bay Classic last month.

“Being in the Brecksville Tournament, the Maumee Bay Tournament, those are tournaments where there are a lot of quality wrestlers; not that we’re necessarily taking our kids to get beat there, but we want them to get pushed, and we want them to have good matches,” Atienza said. “And in the past, that’s where he’s always had his most challenging matches.”

Meanwhile, 106-pound senior CJ Bell is ranked 10th in the state for the Comets, but he won his match by forfeit against Kenston.

Although the days of the 98- and 103-pound weight classes are no longer around in Ohio high school wrestling, Bell would have benefited from those former weights.

“He’s always had the talent to be competitive in the 106 weight, but he’s just been small for his weight class until this year,” Atienza said. “So, he’s actually a really good-sized 106, solid, not small, and, with his technique that he’s had, he can implement his moves on kids his size. So, it’s been huge for him, because he knows he’s been able to compete, but now he’s a full size 106, and it really helps him.”

Solon 138-pound junior Zahoransky, meanwhile, is ranked 22nd among Division I wrestlers in the state, but he didn’t start wrestling until about a month ago because of hip surgery he had this past summer.

However, Zahoransky had no problem posting a dub for the Comets in his match against Kenston on Friday.

“You don’t think about how many things it affects with mobility, and he literally couldn’t do anything with his lower body for months and months,” Atienza said of Zahoransky’s hip surgery. “So, it was kind of like a new baby horse being born, just trying to get your feet under you and just getting used to even getting in a stance and everything.

“It took a while, it’s been a long, hard process for him, but he’s been working hard at it, and he’s getting back into form and starting to come into his normal self.”

Solon 132-pound junior Nathan Leko, meanwhile, won what was perhaps the match of the evening with a 2-1 decision against Kenston state-ranked senior Seth Samidan by way of a first-period takedown.

The next day, Kenston’s Samidan went on to win himself a Western Reserve Conference title with a third-period pin against Brush’s Anthony Efford in his title bout.

“Nathan wrestled him a real smart match, and he grinded out a 2-1 victory,” Atienza said of Leko’s dual victory. “Both kids are really hard to score on. So, I knew it was going to be a one- or two-point match and real low-scoring, and Nathan got that early takedown to get his confidence for the rest of the match. So, he’s headed in the right direction going into the tournaments too.”

Solon also got wins from 160-pound junior Jake Mack, 220-pound sophomore Jonathan Hubbard and heavyweight senior Yusef Russell, all of whom will be chasing district debuts this season.

Mack, in particular, got a third-period pin against Kenston sophomore Michael Payton, who went on to finish WRC runner-up on Saturday.

“(Payton) hit Jake with a double late in the third period, and then actually Jake reversed him and pinned him off that move when he was on bottom,” Atienza said. “So, he ended up wrestling a good match. He can do really well in the postseason, but our sectional at 160 is really tough. If he comes out of sectionals, I like his chances at districts.”

Russell, who eased his way into this season with an ankle sprain from football, also posted a pin for the Comets on Friday night. He planned to take on Kenston heavyweight senior Mitch Sotera, also a football guy, but Sotera was inactive for the dual.

And Solon’s Hubbard, who’s wrestled at 195 pounds last season and is now a pretty mobile 220-pounder, ended up pinning Kenston freshman Connor Kluesner.

“We thought it was going to be pretty tough, and it started off banging pretty hard in the first period,” Atienza said. “Then Jonathan actually got him on his back, and, once he got him on his back, he pinned him. So, that was one of those things where you expected a close match, and then, you know, things turn out well for you. So, that was one of those matches.”

Posting wins for the Bombers, meanwhile, were 126-pound senior Alex Charvat, 145-pound sophomore Maison Benz, 152-pound senior Dylan Sosnoswsky, 170-pound senior Joe Koplow and 182-pound senior Jake Engelhart.

Koplow and Engelhart were WRC runners-up the next day. And, although Koplow wrestled at 170 over the weekend, he’s ranked 10th among Division I 160-pounders in the state.

Up next for Solon, the Comet grapplers will compete in the Greater Cleveland Conference tournament at 3 p.m. Saturday at Euclid High School.

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