AVON LAKE — Having to face one of the toughest fields in years and doing so short-handed wasn’t exactly a dream scenario for an Amherst wrestling team in search of its third straight Knights of Columbus tournament title.
But it sure made winning again that much sweeter for the Comets.
Amherst was without one of its top wrestlers in Bryce Williams and lost 126-pounder Seth Orcutt to injury, but individual titles by tournament MVP Mike Wearsch (170), Austin Williams (145) and Christian Lough (120), along with four other finalists and a total of eight top-four finishes propelled the Comets to 240.5 points and the win over Lorain (215) and Avon (199).
Amherst became the first school to win the K of C three consecutive years since Kenston won it four straight times from 1998-2001.
The Comets’ four overall titles are the most by a Lorain County school.
“It feels good to win it again,” Amherst coach Brian Cesear said. “We were missing a couple of guys and we really had a lot of guys step up this week. I wasn’t too sure what to expect because there were a lot of tough weight classes out here this year, especially with North Olmsted and Lorain being here.
“But we had a lot guys step up and get to the finals. Seven guys getting to the finals was more than I was expecting. I was very pleased with everyone all across the board. Everybody had to step up to the plate and do a little bit more than what’s expected out of them. If everybody does that, usually things will work out for us.”
Wearsch, Williams and Lough were three of the 13 individual champions from Lorain County schools, which is the most at the tournament in more than 10 years.
Wearsch became a two-time K of C champion with a 17-4 major decision over North Ridgeville’s Ricky Godri at 170, capping a 3-0 day and a 6-0 tournament.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the MVP,” Wearsch said. “It wasn’t until the last match that Cesear told me, ‘Hey, pick it up a little bit, because you’re in the running for MVP.’ It’s definitely nice to bring home.
“Coming off a long break from football, I didn’t do much preseason stuff. But I felt like I’ve been working hard and I felt like this was a perfect tournament for me to get my feet wet before I jump into the bigger stuff.”
Williams, Bryce’s brother, also became a two-time K of C champ, using a big third period to defeat Avon Lake’s Tyler Mayer 8-4 at 145.
“I did this for my brother, because he couldn’t be here today,” Williams said. “I owe this win to him. Anytime you can go 6-0 to start the season is fantastic, and to be a part of three straight team championships in three years of varsity is fantastic.”
Lough had the toughest final of the three, needing a takedown with less than 10 seconds remaining to for a 4-2 win over North Olmsted’s David Brunner.
“He had a couple close ones today,” Cesear said. “He also had to overcome a close call that he didn’t get toward the end of the match. He didn’t let that bother him and he got that takedown with about five seconds left, so I was real proud of him there. He didn’t hang his head after not getting that close call and went right back after him.”
The Titans, who were tied with Amherst atop the leaderboard after Friday, got two champions and six wrestlers who finished third or better.
Xaevier Edwards, who defeated North Olmsted’s Brad Sprau by major decision, 15-4, in the 126-pound finals, and Adam Kuchta, who defeated Amherst’s Dennis Breeding 3-1 in the 195-pound finals, were the Titans’ two champions.
The third-place Eagles matched Lorain with two individual champions and had seven wrestlers place in the top four.
Kolin Carney, who defeated Brooklyn’s Yasser Hamdan 7-1 in the 106-pound finals, and Joe Travagliante, who defeated Amherst’s Todd Hastings 5-3 in the 220-pound finals, led the way for Avon.
“I’m ecstatic with our performance, especially in the round to get into the finals,” Avon coach Mark Porter said. “We had like four matches in a row where we either had to come back, or win matches in overtime, or beat kids that we had lost to earlier in the tournament. So all those things were really impressive to see, especially from our first-year varsity guys or guys that haven’t had as much success as they are having this year.”
Keystone’s Jacob Worthington, who wrestled at 195 last weekend, dropped down to 182 and ended up a two-time champion. He defeated Amherst’s Derek Eibon 3-0 in a tough match to pace the eighth-place Wildcats (126.5).
“I got my weight down to 182, and I thought that would hurt me at first,” Worthington said. “But I got hydrated and felt pretty good throughout this weekend, and I feel even better after I won. The practices were harder as I cut the weight, and the competition was harder than it was (last weekend at the Edison Invitational).”
Avon Lake sophomore Joey Bernosky (132) also became a two-time champion at his home tournament, pinning Holy Name’s Nick Foster in 3:55 in the finals. He led the Shoremen to a fourth-place finish with 169 points.
“I faced (Foster) twice last season and I beat him once,” Bernosky said. “I knew I had to go all out on him if I wanted to become a two-time K of C champ. Winning as a freshman gave me motivation to defend my championship from last year and gave me adrenaline to do good.”
Elyria Catholic freshman Stan Bleich (113) burst on the scene with an undefeated performance this weekend, culminating with an 8-5 victory over Lorain’s Devione Edwards in the finals.
“Being my first tournament of the year as a freshman, this is a big win,” Bleich said. “I just like to wrestle every match like I would wrestle anyone else. I don’t like to look at kids, watch their match and scout them. I’m just going to go out and wrestle anyone the way I normally do.”
Other area champions included Vermilion’s Michael Repko (152), Clearview’s Derrick Foster (160) and North Ridgeville’s Nick Bailey (285).
Lakewood 138-pounder Yassir Abdel-Salam, last year’s tournament MVP, became just the 14th wrestler to become a three-time K of C champion.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Amherst 240.5, 2. Lorain 215, 3. Avon 199, 4. Avon Lake 169, 5. North Olmsted 165, 6. North Ridgeville 155, 7. Rocky River 139.5, 8. Keystone 126.5, 9. Brooklyn 121, 10. Lakewood 97.5, 11. Elyria Catholic 94.5, 12. Midview 90, 13. Normandy 85, 14. Clearview 77, 15. Vermilion 72.5, 16. Holy Name 30.5.
106 — FIRST: Kolin Carney (Avon) dec. Yasser Hamdan (Brooklyn), 7-1; THIRD: Danny Cintron (Normandy) pinned Miguel Morell (Clearview), 4:56; FIFTH: Alex Reyes (Amherst) dec. Tyler Casey (Lorain), 7-5.
113 — FIRST: Stan Bleich (Elyria Catholic) dec. Devione Edwards (Lorain), 8-5; THIRD: Nick Mayer (Avon Lake) dec. Aaron Kelly (Rocky River), 7-2; FIFTH: Jarrett Hylton (Clearview) pinned Alex Shermak (Avon), 1:50.
120 — FIRST: Christian Lough (Amherst) dec. David Brunner (North Olmsted), 4-2; THIRD: Brandon Bartlome (Lorain) dec. Frank Rizzo (Avon), 9-2; FIFTH: Will Rodriguez (Lakewood) dec. Zack Klima (Avon Lake), 5-1.
126 — FIRST: Xaevier Edwards (Lorain) maj. dec. Brad Sprau (Rocky River), 15-4; THIRD: Dominic Meehan (Brooklyn) dec. Luke Chokan (North Olmsted), 9-2; FIFTH: Austin Haroch (Normandy) maj. dec. Austin Matsko (Avon), 14-1.
132 — FIRST: Joey Bernosky (Avon Lake) pinned Nick Foster (Holy Name), 3:55; THIRD: Adam Kirresh (Avon) maj. dec. Mason Harsar (Elyria Catholic), 11-2; FIFTH: Mike Ryan (Normandy) dec. Tyler Biggs (North Olmsted), 16-11.
138 — FIRST: Yassir Abdel-Salam (Lakewood) dec. Lewis Robinsky (Brooklyn), 10-3; THIRD: Max Kuchenrither (Avon) def. Logan Stiner (Keystone) by inj. default; FIFTH: Sam Matzek (North Olmsted) pinned Garrett Coe (Avon Lake), 4:05.
145 — FIRST: Austin Williams (Amherst) dec. Tyler Mayer (Avon Lake), 8-4; THIRD: Luke Roginsky (Brooklyn) maj. dec. Seamus Kilbane (Rocky River), 17-3; FIFTH: George Colvin (Lorain) dec. Sean Kilbane (Elyria Catholic), 6-3.
152 — FIRST: Michael Repko (Vermilion) dec. Colin Riley (North Ridgeville), 7-1; THIRD: Aaron Huff (Lorain) maj. dec. Alec Forrer (Midview), 12-4; FIFTH: Donny Wearsch (Amherst) dec. Zack Deems (Rocky River), 11-8.
160 — FIRST: Derrick Foster (Clearview) dec. Travis Leopold (Avon), 8-3; THIRD: Tommy Wendling (North Ridgeville) pinned Wesame Shoman (North Olmsted), :45; FIFTH: Jerot Schill (Elyria Catholic) dec. Kolby Hirschfelder (Midview), 5-3.
170 — FIRST: Mike Wearsch (Amherst) maj. dec. Ricky Godri (North Ridgeville), 17-4; THIRD: Jason Barnicle (Avon Lake) tech. fall Jacob Jones (North Olmsted), 18-1; FIFTH: Airren Robinson (Lakewood) pinned Ahmed Eddeb (Brooklyn), 4:24.
182 — FIRST: Jacob Worthington (Keystone) dec. Derek Eibon (Amherst), 3-0; THIRD: Austin Kuchta (Lorain) pinned Talon Dalton (North Ridgeville), 3:36; FIFTH: Eric Powers (Normandy) dec. Jimmy Smith (Rocky River), 7-3.
195 — FIRST: Adam Kuchta (Lorain) dec. Dennis Breeding (Amherst), 3-1; THIRD: Alec Winston (North Olmsted) pinned Paul Sturm (Avon), 3:35; FIFTH: Jeremy King (Keystone) pinned Alex Brockmeyer (Amherst), 1:28.
220 — FIRST: Joe Travagliante (Avon) dec. Todd Hastings (Amherst), 5-3; THIRD: Corbin Chizmadia (Keystone) pinned Anthony Strader (Vermilion), :32; FIFTH: Colin Shirley (Rocky River) dec. Grange Alves (Lakewood), 5-3.
285 — FIRST: Nick Bailey (North Ridgeville) pinned Mike Liepold (Amherst), 1:54; THIRD: Nathan Blair (Amherst) pinned Jason Bustance (Keystone), 4:34; FIFTH: Sadi Santana (Lorain) pinned Mitch Hasman (Midview), 4:06.