Historic wrestling power Copley sat on top of the team standings while Beaver Local, Bay and Worthington Kilbourne remained within striking distance.
Host Lorain sits in fifth — a strong showing for the undermanned Titans.
“We did pretty well,” Lorain coach Mark Moos said. “We have four guys out right now, which hurts bad, but the guys that we have are wrestling very well. There are a few good teams here and a lot of good individuals. That makes for a nice little tournament.”
Titans 170-pounder Aaron Neal swept his three Day 1 matches and did so in dominant fashion. It was Neal’s first significant action since returning from Lorain’s football team.
“Aaron Neal, our 170-pounder, looks really good right now,” Moos said. “He has all pins or technical falls right now and this is his first time back since the beginning of the year. He took some time coming back from football and he wasn’t mentally ready for wrestling until recently.”
Keystone also had a strong opening day, currently sitting ninth in the team standings with 48 points. It was a comeback of sorts for the Wildcats, who struggled early.
“We had a pretty bad first round, but we drew a lot of top seeds,” Keystone coach Jim Pycraft said. “In the second round we did much better and the kids felt a lot better about things. It’s good wrestling here. There are a lot of good kids and we came here to see where we were at as a team. We have a few starters out and we brought a few young kids to see what happened.”
Senior Jagger Owca, the Wildcats’ 126-pounder, had a pair of pins as he swept his first three matches of the tournament.
“We were banging and bullying, and that’s my style,” Owca said. “I didn’t wrestle the last two years so my technique was kind of weak, so I rely on strength and speed. That’s taken me pretty far.”
Owca also knows his work is far from finished.
“It’s very good competition here,” he said. “I know a lot of people from the Avon Lake tournament that are here. There’s strong competition and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Avon Lake junior Jason Barnicle, wrestling at 170, pinned his first opponent, lost a 6-4 decision in the second round and then won his third match by decision.
Barnicle thinks the Nationwide Holiday Classic gives wrestlers a valuable midseason measuring stick.
“Since it’s midseason, I’ve had time to get my conditioning about where I want it,” he said. “I’ve had some time to get in some practice and I’ve learned a few things. This tournament is a good measurement for how far I’ve progressed.”
The tournament is also about wins and losses, something Moos hopes his Titans remember.
“I would like for all my wrestlers in the winners bracket to make the finals,” he said. “How realistic that is I don’t know because I haven’t seen the brackets yet. I think we will be alright. Maybe not everybody to the finals, but hopefully everyone can place.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STANDINGS: Copley 88, Beaver Local 87, Bay 84, Worthington Kilbourne 65, Lorain 56, Twinsburg 56, Independence 51, Kirtland 50.5, Keystone 48, Clearview 47.5, Avon Lake 47, Midview 39, Westlake 39, Fairview 35, Jefferson Area 34, Benedictine 31, Lakewood 27, Normandy 16, Holy Name 10.5.