At the beginning of December, coach Erik Burnett took Elyria to the Walsh Ironman and watched the Pioneers get their singlets handed to them.
No one placed. In fact, no one came close, as not a single Pioneer made it to the go-to match at the national event.
While Saturday’s 25th annual Bill Dies Memorial Tournament isn’t on the same level as the Ironman, what Elyria did in the gymnasium of Firestone High School on Saturday shows just how far the Pioneers have come in 42 days.
Elyria finished third behind four-time champion Brecksville and runner-up Barberton in its first trip to the Dies.
Not bad considering state qualifier Devan Price (152 pounds) and junior high state runner-up Michael Repko (126) are still out of the lineup.
Price is expected back Monday, while Repko is still week-to-week.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Pioneers 106-pounder Armando Torres said. “We’ve been working hard. We were kind of slacking at the Ironman, but we’re doing well now.
“The goal is to place high (at state) as a team and we’ve got a chance. We have depth and a lot of confidence after this. It’s all just more motivation.”
Matt Canon — a Brecksville Holiday Tournament finalist — knocked off previously unbeaten and No. 1 seed Jesse Gunter of Coventry with a second-period pin in the semifinals and followed with a decking of Barberton state qualifier Sonny Shump in the finals at 120 pounds.
“We’ve matured a lot since the Ironman,” said Canon, who didn’t wrestle at Walsh. “We’re finally getting used to each other and becoming a family again.”
Add Brandon Egnor (132) knocking off Highland state qualifier James Kunzler in the semifinals and pinning Norwayne’s Dustin Grier in overtime of the finals, and it was a good weekend for the Pioneers.
“The kids in the finals have all grown by working hard,” Burnett said. “It’s nice to see. Especially with the starters out.”
Torres was one of the biggest bright spots this weekend as he rolled through a tough weight class to reach the finals.
Though Torres lost to Miami Valley’s Matthew Kolodzik, the sophomore beat some big names on his way to the championship match.
The former junior high runner-up drew Brecksville’s Austin Assad in his second match of the tournament. Assad, a junior high runner-up and Cadet freestyle runner-up, had the credentials but didn’t have the game as Torres put a 13-1 beatdown on him.
He followed with a win over previously unbeaten Korey Frost of Canfield in the semifinals. Frost was up 5-4 in the third period before Torres took him down to win 6-5 at the buzzer.
“That was nice to see,” Burnett said. “You’ll have to wrestle guys like that in big tournaments and have to win the close ones.”
With Connor Kamczyc (fourth, 170) and Taylor Workman (seventh, 160) also placing, Elyria looks to be in good shape as it gets ready to wrestle Strongsville in hopes of finishing the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division undefeated.
“This has been a tough month,” Burnett said. “We’re looking forward to getting our guys back. To finish in the top three here will be good for the kids.”
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
106: Kolodzik (MV) major dec. Torres (Ely), 11-1; Third: Frost (Can) pinned Doyle (Gre), 1;46; Fifth: Thomas (Bru) by inj. def. over Assad (Bre); Seventh: Fagen (Cov) dec. Bowen (Man), 6-2.
113: Schoeppner (CS) dec. Minnard (BC), 9-2; Third: Dupratt (OF) dec. Frye (CH), 2-0; Fifth: Maple (JA) major dec. Britton (Norw), 9-0; Seventh: Spence (Can) dec. Adkins (Gle), 7-0,
120: Canon (Ely) pinned Shump (Bar), 2:21; Third: Gunter (Cov) dec. Ferguson (Man), 3-1; Fifth: Pruchinski (Bre) dec. Griffiths (Gle), 14-7; Seventh: Taylor (Bru) pinned Baitt, 3:05.
126: Fehr (Bar) pinned Asadorian (OF), 3:49; Third: Knepper (Gar) dec. Dunbar (Can),
6-5; Fifth: Swaney (Hob) dec. Smith (Nort), 9-8; Seventh: Lucas (Bre) major ded. Lake (Cov), 11-3.
132: Egnor (Ely) pinned Grier (Norw), 6:41; Third: Smith (North) dec. Srnad (Bre), 13-7; Fifth: Kunzler (Hig) dec. Nick Chuha (CH), 7-4; Seventh: Peterson (Rev) by forfeit over Bevilacqua (OF).
138: Labry (Twi) major dec. Taylor (CF), 17-7; Third: Walker (Cop) dec. Schmidt (Bru),
4-3; Fifth: Estock (WB) dec. Harris (North), 6-4; Seventh: Dickinson (Woo) dec. Celinski (GH), 6-0.
145: Baran (Bre) dec. Nedolast (Cop), 5-0; Third: Banko (GH) dec. Minnis (Woo), 3-1; Fifth: Moore (Nor) dec. Parker (Gle), 9-3; Seventh: Karavantas (Roo) dec. Slater (OF), 7-2,
152: Barr (Bre) dec. Rininger (Hig), 4-3; Third: Fitzgerald (Gre) dec. Rice (Bar), 4-2; Fifth: Downs (Woo) dec. Rang (Cov), 8-6; Seventh: Poullas (Can) pinned Cash (JA), 2:04.
160: McMahon (Sto) dec. Yonker (Gar), 5-0; Third: Hiles (Bre) pinned Vilimonovic (Hig), 2:00; Fifth: Sommer (OF) dec. Sherman (Buc), 3-0; Seventh: Workman (Ely) dec. Rohrbaugh (Norw), 8-3.
170: Kluk (Hig) pinned Shepard (GH), 2:27; Third: Page (WB) by forfeit over Kamczyc (Ely); Fifth: Kokitka (OF) dec. Hymes (Bar), 1-0; Seventh: Lang (Bre) pinned William (Fir), 4:02.
182: Baker (Twi) dec. Stock (Gar), 5-1; Third: Wheeler (Cop) dec. Marotta (Bre), 1-0; Fifth: Rutherford (Nort) pinned Linville (OF), 1:42; Seventh: Stieger (Sto) dec. Musci (Fir), 8-2.
195: Tschantz (Bar) pinned Campbell (Twi), 3:48; Third: Zody (Tri) major dec. Dies (Man), 10-2; Fifth: Headrick (Cov) dec. Hunt (CS), 6-5; Seventh: Haramis (Nort) by forfeit over Murphy (Bre).
220: Rowe (Bar) dec. Hodge (CS), 5-4; Third: Cuenot (Gle) by forfeit over Ware (CF); Fifth: Linden (Bre) dec. Hilling (Woo), 10-4; Seventh: Vincon (Ken) pinned Mbua (GH), 1:00.