CLEVELAND — All three Lorain County wrestlers who reached Division I district championship matches at Cleveland State on Saturday night lost, but they all feel confident after strong performances against top-tier opponents.
Elyria junior Armando Torres lost a 3-1 decision to Brecksville senior Aaron Assad in the 113-pound final, Elyria freshman Ben Darmstadt lost 11-6 to Oregon Clay sophomore Richie Screptock in the 120 final and Lorain senior Eli Garcia lost 4-3 to St. Edward senior Colin Heffernan at 138.
Assad and Heffernan are projected state champions at their weights, while Screptock is ranked
No. 5 in the state by Intermat.com.
“I’ll tell them to take about 10 minutes tonight and be happy about (making it to state),” Pioneers coach Erik Burnett said. “Then we have to get back to work and try to start eliminating some of those mistakes that are costing them in matches. But it was a good tournament for both of those (Elyria) guys.”
It will be the first trip to Columbus for Torres, who was limited by a torn meniscus in his knee as a freshman and eliminated before the district tournament began last season after a controversial failed skin test.
“The past two years I couldn’t get a fair shot,” Torres said after his 6-0 semifinal win over St. Edward senior and North Ridgeville resident Sal Corrao. “So I finally got my shot and I’m going to state now. But I’m still hungry. This isn’t going to cut it. I’m going for a state championship.”
Torres will need to finally beat Assad, who he has lost one-point decisions to at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman, the Brecksville Holiday Tournament and the Bill Dies Memorial Invitational.
“Some people say it’s not a rivalry until both people have won, but hopefully I can get that one win soon … maybe next week — that’d be nice,” Torres said.
Garcia is making his second trip to state. He earned a trip to Columbus as a sophomore while a member of the Elyria program, then fell a match short and finished as the state alternate last season with the Titans.
“I think I can wrestle with anybody in the state,” Garcia said. “I didn’t do too good at states the first time I went, but I got a little bit of experience down there, so that’s good.”
Garcia had another close match with Heffernan in the sectional final at Lorain, and brought the crowd to its feet Saturday night with a spectacular second-period takedown that gave him a lead he didn’t surrender until the final 30 seconds of the match.
“At the end of the match he got his hand raised, and that’s all that matters,” Garcia said. “It might have been a good move, but you need more than just one. You’ve gotta get an early lead on a wrestler like that. If you allow the match to stay close, anything can happen in the end.”
Darmstadt had a history with both wrestlers he met Saturday. He defeated St. Edward freshman Austin Hiles 9-8 in the semifinals before his loss to Screptock.
“I’m going to state as a freshman, not a lot of people can do that,” said Darmstadt, who is only the second Elyria freshman to make it to state under Burnett — the first being four-time state placer Steve Mitcheff. “Me and Austin wrestled back when we were 6. It’s always been back and forth, back and forth … and the last time we wrestled he beat me. So it’s pretty good that I won here.
“(Screptock) and I had a close match at Brecksville.”
The three district runner-ups will receive No. 2 seeds at state next weekend and will face No. 3s in their opening round.
Four other Lorain County wrestlers will join them on the trip — Amherst’s Bryan DeRuchie (126) and Mike Wearsch (160) finished third, Corrao took third at 113 and North Ridgeville senior Drew Dickson took fourth at 120.
“It was a really emotional moment for me … I started crying,” said Dickson, who is the Rangers’ first state qualifier since heavyweight Greg Byrd in 2008. “I had a lot of family here with me — aunts, uncles, cousins — and they’ve all been by my side, supporting me during these past four years.
“It’s anybody’s ballgame once you get down to state. I know I have to win two matches to at least snatch seventh or eighth (place).”
Wearsch was pinned by eventual district champion Quentin Hiles of Brecksville in the championship semifinals, then downed Sylvania Southview’s Jake Sowders and St. Edward’s Robbie Rogers. DeRuchie lost 3-2 to eventual district champion Chance Driscoll of St. Edward, then beat Elyria’s Darrion Overall and Brunswick’s Zack Taylor.
“At first it didn’t hit me … I got my hand raised and I felt this big smile on my face,” DeRuchie said of his win over Overall that sent him to state. “It took me 12 years of working toward this dream and I finally reached it … this is awesome.”
DeRuchie said he wasn’t among those who were surprised by his close match with Driscoll.
“I feel I’m overlooked by people,” he said. “In my mind, I already knew I could go with him before we even had the match. My goal now is to go to state and place higher than people expect me to.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @shaunbennettct on Twitter.
TEAM STANDINGS: St. Edward 271, Brecksville 224, Oregon Clay 173, Perrysburg 118, Elyria 80.5, Nordonia 79, Brunswick 77.5, Wadsworth 66.5, Amherst 56, North Olmsted 45.5, Toledo Whitmer 38, Fremont Ross 37, Medina Highland 35, Toledo St. Francis deSales 34, Ashland 32, Westlake 31.5, Lorain 31, Strongsville 29, Anthony Wayne 21, North Ridgeville 20, Maumee 20, Sylvania Southview 18, Akron Firestone 16, Olmsted Falls 14, Mansfield 14, Toledo St. John’s Jesuit 12, Cloverleaf 11, Wooster 11, Avon Lake 8, Findlay 7, Avon 5, Copley 5, Holland Springfield 4, Lakewood 3, Midview 3, Marion Harding 3, John Marshall 1, Berea 0, Medina 0, Sylvania Northview 0, Lima 0.
106 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Assad (Brecksville) dec. Josh Heil (Brunswick), 5-1. THIRD: Mario Guillen (Perrysburg) pinned Tony DeCesare (Nordonia), 3:48. FIFTH: L.J. Bentley (St. Edward) def. Devione Edwards (Lorain) by forfeit.
113 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Aaron Assad (Brecksville) dec. Armando Torres (Elyria), 3-1. THIRD: Sal Corrao (St. Edward/Avon) dec. Jared Davis (Oregon Clay), 4-2 (OT). FIFTH: Brett Thomas (Brunswick) dec. Vince Schneider (Anthony Wayne), 8-3.
120 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Richie Screptock (Oregon Clay) dec. Ben Darmstadt (Elyria), 11-6. THIRD: Austin Hiles (St. Edward) dec. Drew Dickson (North Ridgeville), 5-3. FIFTH: Christian Yates (Anthony Wayne) pinned Dinny Moore (Toledo Whitmer), 1:42.
126 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Chance Driscoll (St. Edward) maj. dec. Justin DeMicco (Brecksville), 13-4. THIRD: Bryan DeRuchie (Amherst) dec. Zack Taylor (Brunswick), 2-1. FIFTH: Adam Salti (Olmsted Falls) maj. dec. Darrion Overall (Elyria), 10-0.
132 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Dean Heil (St. Edward) pinned Sonny Lucas (Brecksville), :33. THIRD: Ricky Perez (Strongsville) dec. Heath Phillibert (Nordonia), 7-4. FIFTH: Gavin Nelson (Oregon Clay) dec. Alec Herhold (Perrysburg), 7-0.
138 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Colin Heffernan (St. Edward) dec. Eli Garcia (Lorain), 4-3. THIRD: Mike DeCesare (Nordonia) dec. Mathias Zollinger (Wadsworth), 3-1. FIFTH: Grayson Davis (Brecksville) def. Dick Kelly (North Olmsted) by forfeit.
145 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Edgar Bright (St. Edward) dec. Wyatt Music (Ashland), 8-5. THIRD: Trey Grine (Fremont Ross) pinned Austin Strnad (Brecksville), 2:47. FIFTH: Abdulhabib Abdulhabib (Wadsworth) dec. Ryan Roth (Perrysburg), 4-3.
152 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Markus Scheidel (St. Edward) maj. dec. Damon Dominique (Oregon Clay), 13-1. THIRD: J.P. Newton (Perrysburg) maj. dec. Peyton Geary (Fremont Ross), 14-3. FIFTH: Danny Pushpak (Brecksville) dec. Robbie Bosley (Wadsworth), 4-2.
160 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Quinton Hiles (Brecksville) dec. Nick Stencel (Oregon Clay), 11-8. THIRD: Mike Wearsch (Amherst) dec. Robbie Rogers (St. Edward), 4-3. FIFTH: Jake Sowders (Sylvania Southview) dec. Taylor Workman (Elyria), 11-8.
170 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Tyler Hughes (Brunswick) dec. Tim Knipl (Wadsworth), 3-1. THIRD: Troy Lang (Brecksville) dec. Rocco Caywood (Perrysburg), 3-1. FIFTH: Shelton Evans (Toledo St. Francis deSales) dec. Matt Stencel (Oregon Clay), 8-5.
182 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Domenic Abounader (St. Edward) pinned Logan Paul (Westlake), 5:12. THIRD: Alex Belaia-Martinouk (North Olmsted) def. Edward Silva (Oregon Clay) by default. FIFTH: Traevon Dickerson (Mansfield) pinned Kadin Llewellyn (Perrysburg), 4:59.
195 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Adam Kluk (Medina Highland) dec. Josh Murphy (Brecksville), 3-2. THIRD: Gabe Dzuro (St. Edward) dec. Moose Al-Najjar (North Olmsted), 7-3. FIFTH: Johnny Arroyo (Maumee) dec. Dennis Breeding (Amherst), 3-2 (OT).
220 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Alex Woicehovich (Nordonia) dec. Austin Linden (Brecksville), 4-3. THIRD: Jarred Gray (Oregon Clay) dec. Parker Knapp (St. Edward), 5-1. FIFTH: Mark Delas (Perrysburg) dec. Peter Krull (Toledo St. John’s Jesuit), 10-6.
285 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Marquise Moore (Toledo Whitmer) dec. Cale Bonner (Perrysburg), 7-4. THIRD: Sam Burns (Toledo St. Francis deSales) dec. Antonio Zapata (Oregon Clay), 6-3. FIFTH: Trever Chapman (Wooster) def. Ralph Nichols (St. Edward) by forfeit.