Eli Garcia is looking for a successful finish to his high school wrestling career. Lorain High coach Jim Kudrin just wants his senior 138-pounder to have some fun. They’ll both be on the mats tonight at the Division I sectional tournament in Lorain.
“It’s my last one, I don’t have any chances after this,” Garcia said. “I’ve been hungry for a while, and not making it to state last year makes me want it even more.”
Finishing as the state alternate at last year’s district tournament was disappointing mostly because Garcia had been on a steady climb. He qualified to the district tournament as a freshman, then advanced to the state tournament as a sophomore — both trips as a member of the Elyria Pioneers.
Garcia joined the Titans after his family moved back to Lorain, and again looked dominant during his junior season.
But after leading in his opening match at the Ashland district tournament, Garcia suffered a 9-8 loss to Perrysburg junior Ryan Roth, who finished fourth and earned a state berth. Garcia bounced back with three straight wins — a pinfall and a pair of major decisions — to reach the consolation semifinals before suffering a 6-3 loss to Medina’s Matt Hammer.
“It was a real tough one,” Garcia said. “It took a little while to get over, but you have to move on. You can’t dwell on stuff like that. You just have to move on and work harder.”
Working hard is something Garcia learned to do at a young age. He began wrestling in the Southview biddie program when he was just 5 years old, then started to train at All-American Wrestling in LaGrange.
“I started working out at The Barn with Erik’s (Burnett) dad, then I started working out with Erik and stayed with him since,” Garcia said. “I joined open tournaments (during the offseason) and did (the nationals in) Fargo (N.D.) one year. I just kept practicing, so that I could get my technique better and to get in better shape.”
Garcia has been handed his share of criticism in recent years. Kudrin alluded to rumors that his wrestler didn’t train hard and wasn’t coachable.
“I’ve heard a lot of things about Eli from a lot of different people, and I haven’t based my opinion of him on anything but my experience with him this year,” Kudrin said.
“I know there are a lot of haters out there that are not real big fans of Eli’s because he’s got some past problems, and there’s no denying that. There’s no denying that he struggled. But you’ve got to remember that he’s a kid, even at this point.”
Garcia has looked like a man among boys this season. He holds a 24-1 record — he’s 63-5 over the last two seasons — heading into the postseason, with his lone loss something of a fluke.
“He was leading 16-4 and made a move, and basically pinned himself,” Kudrin said. “There has been nobody to this point, skillwise, to match him. You can just see that his ability level is just heads and shoulders above anybody else.”
The loss came to Worthington Kilbourne’s Kyle Wahl in Lorain’s holiday tournament. Garcia has rolled over his competition since, including a 7-3 win over Liberty Center’s Zach Niner — a two-time state placer — in the championship match of the Oregon Clay tournament in January.
“He just dominated the guy,” Kudrin said. “You wouldn’t think he’d be able to do that with a two-time state placer, but he did … and it was pretty amazing.”
One of the reasons for the newfound domination is a change Kudrin made in Garcia’s game plan.
“At the beginning of the year, he liked to tech fall kids,” Kudrin said. “I told him I didn’t think that was a good idea for him. I wanted him to pin guys as soon as possible. So when we went down to Fairfield, of his five matches, four of them were pins. He had the most pins in the least amount of time.
“So that’s what I’m going to have him do in the sectionals and for the rest of the year. I’m going to encourage him to work hard to pin guys rather than take it to the third period.”
Garcia doesn’t seem to have any problem with that. He doesn’t care how he wins the match, only that he wins … and keeps winning.
“I really only have one goal this season — just to win it all,” he said. “I’ve been enjoying my senior season, it’s my last season. At the same time, you can’t enjoy it too much or you can lose focus on what you need to do.”
Kudrin just wants to make sure the focus doesn’t become so great that the fun is diminished to nothing.
“Kids start so young now and the problem with that is they get burned out,” Kudrin said. “They are out there wrestling because their parents want them to do it or because there is an opportunity for them to get into college. It doesn’t seem to be a lot of fun for them anymore.
“So the conversation I’ve had with Eli is when he looks up at me when we’re at the districts and he’s in his go-to (state) match — and he will be — I said I’m going to put my fingers on the corners of my mouth and push my lips up like a smile. I’m going to remind him that right now is not the time to be upset, but it’s the time to have fun. He’s worked his whole life for that moment.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
WHERE: Lorain High School
TIMES: Tonight at 5; Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
COST: $6 per session for adults; $4 per session for students
PARTICIPANTS: Avon, Avon Lake, John Marshall, Lakewood, Lorain, Midview, North Olmsted, North Ridgeville, Olmsted Falls, St. Edward and Westlake.
PARKING: Free at Lorain High
STATE PLACERS: Domenic Abounader, St. Edward (first, 2012; first, 2011); Edgar Bright, St. Edward (second, 2012; second, 2011; sixth, 2010); Chase DuPratt, Olmsted Falls (eighth, 2011); Colin Heffernan, St. Edward (fourth, 2012); Dean Heil, St. Edward (first, 2012; first, 2011; first, 2010); Marcus Scheidel, St. Edward (second, 2012; fifth, 2011).
DEFENDING TEAM CHAMPION: St. Edward
RETURNING INDIVIDUAL CHAMPS: L.J. Bentley, St. Edward (106); Heffernan (120); Heil (126); Bright (132); Abounader (182).
OTHER SECTIONAL: Elyria and Amherst will compete at the Mansfield sectional, which will mix Northeast and Northwest district teams. The Pioneers will be led by state qualifier Brandon Egnor (132), district placer Connor Kamczyc (195), two-time district qualifier Armando Torres (113) and 2012 district qualifiers Taylor Workman (160) and T.J. Halstead (285). The Comets will be led by two-time district qualifier Alex Funderburg (138) and 2012 district qualifiers Christian Lough (113), Bryan DeRuchie (126), Bryce Williams (145) and Mike Wearsch (160).
WHERE: Medina High School
TIMES: Tonight at 6; Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
COST: $6 per session for adults; $4 per session for students
PARTICIPANTS: Bay, Brookside, Buckeye, Clear Fork, Fairview, Firelands, Holy Name, Lexington, Mansfield Madison, Padua, Rocky River and Vermilion.
PARKING: Free at Medina High
DIRECTIONS: Take Rt. 57 to Rt. 82 and turn left. Turn right on Rt. 83 and turn left on Rt. 18. Turn left on North Elmwood Street, then turn right on West Union Street. Arrive at Medina High School at 777 E. Union St. in Medina — 26 miles, 42 minutes.
STATE PLACERS: Jacob Kasper, Lexington (fourth, 2012); Josh Lehner, Lexington (first, 2012; seventh, 2011).
DEFENDING TEAM CHAMPION: Edison
• Edison will compete in the Bowling Green sectional.
RETURNING INDIVIDUAL CHAMPS: None.
WHERE: Brooklyn High School
TIMES: Tonight at 5; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
COST: $6 per session for adults; $4 per session for students.
PARTICIPANTS: Brooklyn, Chanel, Clearview, Cleveland Central Catholic, Columbia, Cuyahoga Heights, Elyria Catholic, Independence, Keystone, Lutheran West, Oberlin, Trinity and Wellington.
PARKING: Free at Brooklyn High
DIRECTIONS: Take US-20 (OH-10) east. Take I-480 East ramp to the right. Take exit 13 and turn left on Tiedeman Road. Turn right on Biddulph Road. Arrive at Brooklyn High School at 9200 Biddulph Road in Brooklyn — 23 miles, 28 minutes.
STATE PLACERS: None.
DEFENDING TEAM CHAMPION: Keystone
RETURNING INDIVIDUAL CHAMPS: Nick Orr, Cuyahoga Heights (106); Nate Frye, Cuyahoga Heights (113); Lewis Roginsky, Brooklyn (120).
OTHER SECTIONAL: Black River will compete at the Northwestern tournament. The Pirates will be led by returning two-time state placer Mike Hozan (120), returning state qualifier Sebastian Vidika (106), two-time district qualifier Spencer White (113) and 2012 district qualifier Jake Maund (182).
106 — Sebastian Vidika, Black River, 32-1 (.970); Devione Edwards, Lorain, 30-5 (.857); Jose Gracia, Elyria Catholic, 14-6 (.700); Jacob Downs, Wellington, 23-11 (.676); Jarrett Hylton, Clearview, 25-13 (.658); Justin Clark, Columbia, 21-11 (.656); Nico O’Dor, Elyria, 21-11 (.656); Austin Knowlton, Brookside, 17-9 (.654); Frank Rizzo, Avon, 17-12 (.586); Jason Grau, Midview, 11-8 (.579); Madison Burns, Brookside, 15-11 (.577); Zach Carte, Midview, 13-11 (.542); Anthony Gerrone, Avon Lake, 15-14 (.517).
113 — Spencer White, Black River, 32-1 (.970); Evan Collier, North Ridgeville, 30-2 (.938); Nick Mayer, Avon Lake, 12-1 (.923); Armando Torres, Elyria, 31-4 (.886); Zach Klima, Avon Lake, 23-9 (.719); Aiden Wonder, Brookside, 21-16 (.568); Sal Corrao, St. Edward/Avon, 17-15 (.531); Sam Taylor, Midview, 15-14 (.517).
120 — Drew Dickson, North Ridgeville, 29-2 (.935); Mike Hozan, Black River, 30-5 (.857); Ben Darmstadt, Elyria, 27-5 (.844); Dylan Stiner, Keystone, 19-6 (.760); Nick Saxton, Elyria Catholic, 8-4 (.667); Kurt Wysocki, St. Edward/Avon, 13-9 (.591); Jack Gothier, Avon, 17-15 (.531).
126 — Tommy Zeigler, St. Ignatius/North Ridgeville, 15-2 (.882); Bryan DeRuchie, Amherst, 29-5 (.853); Mike Hollingsworth, Clearview, 38-7 (.844); Darrion Overall, Elyria, 27-5 (.844); Max Kuchenrither, Avon, 33-7 (.825); Joey Bernosky, Avon Lake, 26-6 (.813); Mason Harsar, Elyria Catholic, 22-6 (.786); Devin French, Brookside, 28-17 (.622); Jon Eschedor, Wellington, 19-13 (.594); Justin Dodge, North Ridgeville, 17-12 (.586).
132 — Mikah Price, Elyria, 5-0; Logan Stiner, Keystone, 37-5 (.881); Angel Alexander, Firelands, 38-6 (.864); Matt Hollingsworth, Clearview, 39-7 (.848); Sean Kilbane, Elyria Catholic, 28-8 (.778); Brandon Egnor, Elyria, 22-8 (.733); Ben Provoznik, Wellington, 21-9 (.700); Drew Schatz, Midview, 26-12 (.684); Michael Dolan, Elyria, 14-8 (.636); Morgan Bremke, Oberlin, 19-17 (.528).
138 — Eli Garcia, Lorain, 24-1 (.960); Alex Funderburg, Amherst, 27-7 (.794); Jesse Orantek, Elyria, 28-8 (.778); Spencer Geil, Vermilion, 23-11 (.676); Chris McKenzie, Keystone, 21-14 (.600); Chad Shaffer, Elyria, 18-12 (.600); Tony Lupico, Midview, 18-13 (.581); Adler Vasiloff, Lutheran West/Vermilion, 20-15 (.571).
145 — Mike Repko, Vermilion, 9-0; Jake DeLorge, Avon, 32-5 (.865); Bryce Williams, Amherst, 29-6 (.829); Ian Standen, Brookside, 38-9 (.809); D.J. Murdock, Avon Lake, 11-3 (.786); Justin Flanigan, Elyria, 10-3 (.769); Mason Geierman, Elyria, 10-3 (.769); Ricky Godri, North Ridgeville, 20-9 (.690); Alex Parker, Elyria, 21-10 (.677); Alex Imhoff, Wellington, 23-15 (.605); Sam Wilson, Oberlin, 11-8 (.579); Alex Szuch, Midview, 8-7 (.533); Clay Hartley, Keystone, 17-15 (.531).
152 — Derrick Foster, Clearview, 38-5 (.884); Austin Williams, Amherst, 32-5 (.865); Tyler Thomas, Oberlin, 19-5 (.792); Kolby Hirshfelder, Midview, 18-7 (.720); Tyler Mayer, Avon Lake, 22-12 (.647); Josh Kitko, Wellington, 23-13 (.639); Adam Wukie, St. Edward/Elyria, 10-8 (.556).
160 — Zach Frambach, Midview, 11-1 (.917); Luther Washington, Lorain, 22-3 (.880); Jerot Schill, Elyria Catholic, 26-4 (.867); Mike Wearsch, Amherst, 31-6 (.838); Colin Riley, North Ridgeville, 24-10 (.706); Taylor Workman, Elyria, 27-12 (.692); Aaron Rice, Vermilion, 16-8 (.667); Jason Barnicle, Avon Lake, 12-11 (.522).
170 — Mike Sliman, Amherst, 21-6 (.778); Jeremy King, Keystone, 23-11 (.676); Felipe Valadez, Clearview, 21-12 (.636); Brandon Blakely, Avon, 20-12 (.625); Kevin Khoma, St. Edward/Sheffield Lake, 15-10 (.600); Josh Pierce, Elyria Catholic, 17-14 (.548); Kaz Dec, Wellington, 17-11 (.607).
182 — Hamza Kirresh, Avon, 30-3 (.909); Jacob Worthington, Keystone, 40-5 (.889); Derek Eibon, Amherst, 26-7 (.788); Jake Maund, Black River, 25-7 (.781); Divante Holt, Clearview, 20-10 (.667).
195 — Austin Kuchta, Elyria Catholic, 31-2 (.939); Connor Kamczyc, Elyria, 12-2 (.857); Dennis Breeding, Amherst, 24-7 (.774); Corbin Chizmadia, Keystone, 13-6 (.684).
220 — Adam Kuchta, Elyria Catholic, 31-2 (.939); Ivan Mendoza, Brookside, 21-9 (.700); Ryan Slone, Black River, 23-10 (.697); Joe Travagliante, Avon, 23-14 (.622); Todd Hastings, Amherst, 14-11 (.560).
285 — Deion Arnold, Clearview, 26-8 (.765); Nick Bailey, North Ridgeville, 22-7 (.759); T.J. Halstead, Elyria, 24-10 (.706); Stephan Moody, Amherst, 20-10 (.667); Kevin Ward, St. Edward/Avon, 18-9 (.667); Jason Bustance, Keystone, 24-14 (.632); Andre Torres, Elyria Catholic, 21-15 (.583).
Wrestler of the Week
Drew Schatz, Midview
WEIGHT: 132 pounds
LAST WEEK: Won every match with a first-period pinfall — including avenging a dual meet loss to Avon’s Adam Kirresh in the final — en route to winning a championship in the West Shore Conference Tournament on Saturday.
DREW’S THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK: “It was definitely a very big goal that I had set early in the season. Taking second in the conference last year was really disappointing. I had never won a tournament in high school, so I wanted to win one before my high school career was over.”
OFF THE MAT: Spends his summers working for a roofing company and enjoying the weather — usually lying on the beach at the family’s campground at Catawba Island. Also enjoys fishing with his cousin, Devon Crum, and grandfather, Joe Dossa, as well as getting together with his friends — they meet every Tuesday for dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube in Sheffield, and watch movies.
PARENTS: David and Sarah
FUTURE PLANS: Wants to attend LCCC for two years and then earn a nursing degree at Kent State.