ELYRIA — Lorain’s Eli Garcia knew he couldn’t use Thursday night’s 33rd annual Lorain County All-Star wrestling meet at Elyria Catholic to close the book on his high school career like several other seniors. The throbbing knee left over from last weekend’s state tournament did not allow him to put on his singlet and step on the mat one final time.
But then he did end up stepping on the mat one final time — in street clothes — to accept the crystal trophy as the Division I Wrestler of the Year.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Garcia, who placed fifth at 138 pounds in Columbus. “I kind of had an idea (that I might win) … a little bit, but I wasn’t too worried about this because all I had was the state tournament in front of me the whole season.
“But this is all right, probably one of the best ways I could have ended my career.”
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The Lorain County Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association also honored Clearview senior Matt Hollingsworth as the Division II/III Wrestler of the Year. Hollingsworth matched Garcia’s podium finish in the Division III 132-pound bracket.
“Looking back on it, we should have expected it all along,” Hollingsworth said of his success. “But going into the postseason, I didn’t really know what to expect.”
That’s because Hollingsworth had never experienced a high school wrestling postseason. Injuries cost him sectional appearances as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
“It makes me realize that I should have started all this earlier,” he said. “But there’s no rewind button. It’s just great that we picked it up this year.”
With fifth-place finishes, Garcia and Hollingsworth were able to win their final matches at the state tournament. Hollingsworth was able to win his final two high school matches as he defeated Keystone’s Logan Stiner 4-3 in Thursday’s 132-pound championship match.
He did it while twin brother Mike wrestled for third at the same weight on the next mat.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Matt said. “My accomplishments are basically his accomplishments because we do everything together.”
The Wrestler of the Year awards were the highlight of an evening that saw a handful of state qualifiers compete, including a Division I vs. Division III matchup at 120 pounds.
North Ridgeville senior Drew Dickson, who was unable to compete in Columbus when he failed his skin test on Day 1, battled Keystone senior Dylan Stiner, who went 1-2 in Division III.
The pair battled through a scoreless first period before Stiner chose the down position to start the second and Dickson began racking up points with nearfall after nearfall.
“I was tired … when we were on our feet I felt so slow,” Dickson said. “But once I got on top I knew I could get my turns. I probably didn’t have to turn him again in the last 15 seconds, but I wanted to make (the score) a little more dominating.”
It wasn’t much of a salve to cool the burn that Dickson was still feeling a week after being told he wasn’t allowed to compete in Columbus.
“It does eat me up a little,” he said. “But overall I was pretty good this week. Last year, after I broke my hand (to end the season) … I didn’t handle that well at all. I was angry for two months after the season was over.”
There weren’t a lot of premier title matches Thursday night — involving elite finalists — but there were several solid championship matches.
Wellington junior Jacob Downs opened the night by winning the 106-pound title with a 4-2 overtime decision over Columbia’s Justin Clark, Avon junior Jake DeLorge won 2-1 in overtime against Amherst junior Bryce Williams, and Avon Lake’s Joey Bernosky, Avon’s Hamza Kirresh and Hollingsworth all won titles with one-point decisions.
The exhibition victories aren’t added to the wrestlers’ records, but it was still a fulfilling way to end the season, especially for the seniors.
“It was definitely satisfying,” Dickson said. “It’s more than likely I won’t wrestle in college, so this was a fun way to finish my career.”
Hello to the Hall
Four individuals were inducted into the Lorain County Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association’s Hall of Fame. The Class of 2013 includes Uland Ralston, Dan Hornbeek, John McKitrick and Joe Myers.
Ralston was a four-year varsity wrestler — for both Admiral King and Southview — before going 33-3 his senior year for the Saints. He won a sectional title and finished runner-up at the district and state tournaments in 1990.
Former Elyria Catholic coach and longtime tournament director Hornbeek has been active in the Lorain County wrestling community for four decades. He coached the Panthers’ first state champion, Jim Reighley, in 1976.
McKitrick was a member of the 1973 Elyria team that won the county’s only state title and wrestled for Marietta College. He coached at Elyria, Clearview and Elyria West, and was an official for 15 years.
Myers dominated the county during his years at North Ridgeville, putting together a 102-25 record and culminating with a 189-pound state runner-up finish in 1992 as a senior. (He also placed sixth as a junior). He is the first Rangers wrestler to be inducted into the LCWCOA Hall of Fame.
- The LCWCOA honored two county coaches and an official during a break in wrestling. Elyria’s Erik Burnett was named the Division I Coach of the Year, Keystone’s Jim Pycraft was named the Divisions II-III Coach of the Year and Tom Bauer was named the Official of the Year.
- The Frank Fiore/John Hollett Memorial scholarship winners were North Ridgeville’s Drew Dickson, Lorain’s Blake Benyard and Amherst’s Mike Sliman.
- The LCWCOA awarded its service award to longtime wrestling official Don Way.
106 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Jacob Downs (Wellington) dec. Justin Clark (Columbia), 4-2 (OT). THIRD: Frank Rizzo (Avon) dec. Madison Burns (Brookside), 6-3. FIFTH: Anthony Gerone (Avon Lake) pinned Michael Falencki (Amherst), 2:25.
113 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Evan Collier (North Ridgeville) maj. dec. Aidan Wonder (Brookside), 15-4. THIRD: Zach Carte (Midview) dec. Mike Filiaggi (Elyria Catholic), 7-5. FIFTH: Nick Amspaugh (Wellington) won by forfeit.
120 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Drew Dickson (North Ridgeville) maj. dec. Dylan Stiner (Keystone), 11-1. THIRD: Josh Gabor (Midview) pinned Jack Gothier (Avon), 1:07.
126 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Joey Bernosky (Avon Lake) dec. Max Kuchenrither (Avon), 3-2. THIRD: Devin French (Brookside) pinned Mason Harsar (Elyria Catholic), 1:27. FIFTH: Jon Eschedor (Wellington) won by forfeit.
132 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Matt Hollingsworth (Clearview) dec. Logan Stiner (Keystone), 4-3. THIRD: Mike Hollingsworth (Clearview) dec. Darrion Overall (Elyria), 4-0. FIFTH: Drew Schatz (Midview) dec. Sean Kilbane (Elyria Catholic), 7-2.
138 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Alex Funderburg (Amherst) tech. fall Chris McKenzie (Keystone), 17-1. THIRD: Ben Provoznik (Wellington) dec. Tony Lupico (Midview), 4-1. FIFTH: Clay Hartley (Keystone) dec. Morgan Bremke (Oberlin), 6-3.
145 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Jake DeLorge (Avon) dec. Bryce Williams (Amherst), 2-1 (OT). THIRD: D.J. Murdock (Avon Lake) dec. Ian Standen (Brookside), 3-2. FIFTH: George Colvin (Lorain) dec. Alex Imhoff (Wellington), 3-0.
152 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Williams (Amherst) dec. Derrick Foster (Keystone), 12-5. THIRD: Tyler Mayer (Avon Lake) maj. dec. Tyler Thomas (Oberlin), 10-0. FIFTH: Kolby Hirschfelder (Midview) dec. Josh Kitko (Wellington), 5-2.
160 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Colin Riley (North Ridgeville) pinned Aaron Rice (Vermilion), 1:20. THIRD: Jason Barnicle (Avon Lake) def. Josh Fisher (Keystone) by default.
170 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Aaron Neal (Lorain) maj. dec. Jeremy King (Keystone), 15-3. THIRD: Kaz Dec (Wellington) dec. Brandon Blakely (Avon), 7-3. FIFTH: Taylor Workman (Elyria) maj. dec. Noah Pine (Firelands), 13-4.
182 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Hamza Kirresh (Avon) dec. Derek Eibon (Amherst), 3-2. THIRD: Zack Fries (Brookside) pinned Alex Schumaker (Columbia), 1:59. FIFTH: Ryan Steinmetz (Avon) dec. Aaron Ferguson (Wellington), 7-0.
195 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) dec. Dennis Breeding (Amherst), 4-1. THIRD: Corbin Chizmadia (Keystone) dec. Devin Resseger (Lorain), 2-1. FIFTH: Jose Carabello (Columbia) pinned Jacob Squier (Wellington), 2:27.
220 — CHAMPIONSHIP: Adam Kuchta (Elyria Catholic) dec. Ivan Mendoza (Brookside), 7-1. THIRD: Joe Travagliante (Avon) dec. Jason Bustance (Keystone), 3-1. FIFTH: Todd Hastings (Amherst) pinned Nick Johnson (Firelands), 1:08.
285 — CHAMPIONSHIP: T.J. Halstead (Elyria) dec. Deion Arnold (Clearview), 5-1. THIRD: Nick Bailey (North Ridgeville) pinned Stephan Moody (Amherst), 2:30. FIFTH: Clayton Breeds (Lorain) pinned Andre Torres (Elyria Catholic), 1:58.