GARFIELD HEIGHTS — Twenty-two wrestlers representing the area descended upon the Division III Garfield Heights district tournament, hoping to keep their state dreams alive.
When the two-day event concluded Saturday night, only five wrestlers representing three area schools survived. That included two district champions.
Black River senior 106-pounder Sebastian Vidika, who became a three-time district champion, and Elyria Catholic freshman 113-pounder Stan Bleich, who claimed his first district title, highlighted the list of the area five.
Other state qualifiers included Elyria Catholic senior Jerot Schill (second, 160), Lutheran West senior Jake DeLorge (third, 152) and junior Tim Mecklenburg (third, 126).
Three of the four area semifinalists won one match Saturday to punch their tickets to state, with DeLorge coming back with a 19-3 technical fall over Northwestern’s Derek Gregan in the consolation semifinals. However, of the 11 wrestlers still alive in the consolation bracket, Mecklenburg was the sole survivor.
Vidika capped his 4-0 tournament with a 17-2 technical fall over Tuslaw’s Shane Johnston in the semifinals – a rematch of last year’s district final – and a 4-2 win over Manchester Joey Bowen in a rematch of last weekend’s Independence sectional final.
“Even though I beat (Bowen) by a greater margin last week, I felt more solid going into today,” Vidika said. “I just felt better overall. I think the score was closer because we had just wrestled each other, so we both kind of knew what each other was going to do.
“I still came out with a win, which is good going into next week. When you go down to state, you’re not going to get pins and tech. falls and wrestle those one-period matches. I’m going to have to get used to those six-minute matches, so it was nice to have one here in the finals. This was a great test for me.”
Vidika (39-1) placed fourth at last year’s state tournament and is ranked third in his weight class by Intermat’s Josh Lowe.
“It still feels the same as when I won this as a sophomore and again last year,” he said. “My main focus all year has been on winning a state title, so this is just a stepping stone to what my bigger goal is.”
Bleich (34-1) added another highlight to his remarkable freshman year with a 4-0 run, capped by a 12-4 major decision win over Hawken junior Louis DeMarco in the championship. He earned his state berth with a pin of Rootstown’s Brad Trescott in the semifinals.
“It feels really good to get to state, especially as a freshman,” Bleich said. “I was just wrestling every match the same, and if I could get a pin or a tech. fall, it just happens.
“I was really happy when (Jerot) won his semifinal match. It feels really good to be going down to Columbus with him. For EC wrestling, it means we can still compete with the few wrestlers we have and we can do some damage on the mat.”
Schill (31-7) came up short in his bid to join Bleich as a district champion. However, they both will give EC two state qualifiers for the second straight year, while each also is making their first trips to Columbus.
Schill, who was unranked by Lowe prior to the postseason, scored a mild upset over Waynedale freshman Kyle Ice, who was ranked 14th, in the semifinals, winning 5-2. However, he ran into defending district champion and state runner-up Kollin Moore of Creston Norwayne in the finals. Moore pinned Schill in 1:24 to win his second-straight district crown.
“It feels good to know that all the work we’ve put in is finally starting to pay off,” Schill said. “It’s real cool to not only make my first trip to state, but to also go down with Stan. Even though I’m a senior and he’s a freshman, we’re both making our first trips to Columbus together, so that’s exciting.
“I don’t really pay attention to brackets or to state rankings or anything. I kind of just showed up and wrestled and did what I had to do.”
DeLorge (47-5), in his first year at Lutheran West after a successful wrestling career at Avon, finally realized his first berth to the state tournament in his first year as a Division III wrestler. He was denied a berth in the district finals by the projected third-place finisher in the state, Waynedale’s Dakota Stanley. Stanley defeated DeLorge, 7-1.
However, DeLorge rebounded with two victories to clinch third-place in his weight class. He defeated Kirtland’s Clayton Davidson, 3-2, in the consolation finals with a late takedown.
“It played out kind of how we thought it would,” Lutheran West coach Dave Ressler said. “Jake’s a great kid and he has fit in so well at Lutheran West. He’s a great leader for the team. He came in and worked his way up through his actions and his hard work.
“He’s just a fun kid to be around and he gets along with all of his classmates. He’s so well deserving of this state berth.”
Mecklenburg (22-6), who qualified for state as a freshman but missed out on a return trip by one match last season, took the long road back to Columbus on Saturday. He won three consolation bouts, including a 2-1 decision over Grand Valley’s Cody Rhoads in the semifinals, to punch his second ticket to state.
Mecklenburg, ranked 10th in his weight class, knocked off the No. 6 wrestler in Burton Berkshire’s T.J. Malkus, 4-2, in the consolation final for his highest district placement in his three years.
“We were hoping to get both (Jake and Tim) to the semis, but Tim made a mistake Friday and had to take the long road back,” Ressler said. “But he did it as a freshman – wrestling from even farther back to qualify for state. So we had confidence in him that he would do it again, and he did.
“One of the things that’s really developed for Tim is patience. He’s not panicking anymore, especially if he gets down. We were down 1-0 in that (semifinal) match and he stayed calm, and things tend to work out when you don’t freak out over everything.”
Black River had two other wrestlers in freshman Ian Maund (126) and junior Ryan Slone (220) that came within an eyelash of joining Vidika in the state tournament.
Maund (29-14) came back with two wins on Saturday after losing in Friday’s quarterfinals. However, he lost to Malkus by a 12-0 major decision in the consolation semifinals before losing to Rhoads, 5-2, in the fifth-place match.
Slone (35-11) also bounced back with two victories after a quarterfinal loss. However, he lost a tough bout to Independence’s Alex Scotten, 4-3, in the consolation semifinals on a late stalling call. Scotten won the Independence Sectional title last weekend. Slone lost to Beachwood’s Paul Flowers, 9-4.
Wellington, Columbia and Oberlin were shut out in their respective quests for any state qualifiers. Columbia’s Josh Newman (113) and Jose Caraballo (190) and Wellington’s Jon Eschedor (145) each won one match on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Waynedale 163, 2. (tie) Rootstown, Beachwood 114, 4. Northwestern 97, 5. Norwayne 78.5, 6. Tuslaw 77.5, 7. Manchester 73.5 8. Loudonville 62.5, 9. Independence 61, 10. Hawken 58, 11. Jackson-Milton 52.5, 12. Girard 52, 13. Mapleton 51.5, 14. (tie) Black River, Elyria Catholic 48, 16. (tie) Lutheran West, Berkshire 45.5, 18. Kirtland 36.5, 19. Waterloo 35.5, 20. Grand Valley 33, 21. Cuyahoga Heights 32, 22. Hillsdale 30, 23. (tie) Brookfield, Pymatuning Valley 29, 25. Fairless 27, 26. Mogadore 25, 27. Cardinal 24, 28. (tie) Orrville, Wellsville 19, 30. VASJ 18, 31. Wickliffe 16, 32. United 14, 33. Columbia 12.5, 34. Canton Central Catholic 12, 35. (tie) Wellington, Liberty 9, 37. Trinity 7, 38. (tie) South Range, Columbiana 6, 40. Rittman 5, 41. Oberlin 4, 42. Smithville 2.5, 43. Warrensville Heights 1, 44. (tie) Chippewa, Dalton, Ledgemont, Newbury, Richmond Heights, Crestview, Garfield, Southern, St. Thomas Aquinas 0.
106 — FIRST: Sebastian Vidika (Black River) dec. Joey Bowen (Manchester), 4-2; THIRD: Shane Johnston (Tuslaw) tech. fall Dakota McClosky (Girard), 16-1; FIFTH: Christian Wellman (Waynedale) dec. Ben Kitay (Beachwood), 3-0.
113 — FIRST: Stan Bleich (Elyria Catholic) maj. dec. Louis DeMarco (Hawken), 12-4; THIRD: Mitch Tikkanen (Jackson-Milton) dec. Mitch Skleres (Pymatuning Valley), 6-2; FIFTH: Tyler Wirth (Waynedale) dec. Brad Trescott (Rootstown), 7-1.
120 — FIRST: Jett Heldenbrand (Hillsdale) pinned Ian Mast (Cardinal), 3:42; THIRD: Charles Davis (Fairless) dec. Tony Paulucci (Rootstown), 2-0; FIFTH: Joe Tromba (VASJ) def. Sean McKinley (Hawken) by default.
126 — FIRST: Zack Durbin (Mapleton) dec. Colton Ullman (Loudonville), 1-0; THIRD: Tim Mecklenburg (Lutheran West) dec. T.J. Malkus (Berkshire), 4-2; FIFTH: Cody Rhoads (Grand Valley) dec. Ian Maund (Black River), 5-2.
132 — FIRST: Sam Gross (Beachwood) maj. dec. Jason Sadler (Rootstown), 16-6; THIRD: Nate Frye (Cuyahoga Heights) dec. Evan Francis (Kirtland), 5-1; FIFTH: Kyle Waddell (Tuslaw) dec. Josh Tompkins (Mogadore). 7-6.
138 — FIRST: Jacob Spino (Independence) dec. Chance Marthey (Tuslaw), 3-2; THIRD: Bradley Wardell (Waynedale) pinned Justin Chew (Mogadore), 2:15; FIFTH: Cody Charvat (Berkshire) maj. dec. Josh Weber (Loudonville), 12-2.
145 — FIRST: Reid Stanley (Waynedale) dec. Zach Steiner (Norwayne), 4-2; THIRD: David Monturi (Wickliffe) dec. Anthony Walden (Beachwood), 8-5; FIFTH: Luke Sorboro (Rootstown) def. Corey Kowatch (Mapleton) by default.
152 — FIRST: Dakota Stanley (Waynedale) dec. Zack Ladich (Rootstown), 7-3; THIRD: Jake DeLorge (Lutheran West) dec. Clayton Davidson (Kirtland), 3-2; FIFTH: Derek Gregan (Northwestern) pinned Seth King (Hawken), 4:23.
160 — FIRST: Kollin Moore (Norwayne) pinned Jerot Schill (Elyria Catholic), 1:14; THIRD: Drew Brasiel (Manchester) dec. Josh Horning (Waterloo), 6-4; FIFTH: Kyle Ice (Waynedale) maj. dec. Zach Androw (Fairless), 12-0.
170 — FIRST: Ryan Harris (Beachwood) tech. fall Joey Meek (Northwestern), 22-6; THIRD: Nick Cardiero (Girard) def. Zach Jamieson (Brookfield) by default; FIFTH: Travis Pickering (Mapleton) dec. Logan Snyder (Waynedale), 7-1.
182 — FIRST: Travis Linton (Rootstown) dec. Kile Schaefer (Northwestern), 6-2; THIRD: Jack Staggs (Waynedale) pinned Will Bolanz (Waterloo), 2:33; FIFTH: Anthony Italiano (Jackson-Milton) dec. Josh Bailosky (Beachwood), 5-4.
195 — FIRST: Ryan Weber (Loudonville) dec. Glenn Zaller (Grand Valley), 5-3; THIRD: Tristian Anderson (Waynedale) dec. Scott Wolheter (Tuslaw), 5-2; FIFTH: Zach Hackett (Brookfield) pinned Austin O’Baker (Pymatuning Valley), 1:53.
220 — FIRST: Mitch Murray (Norwayne) def. Alex Stotter (Hawken) by default; THIRD: Seth Bloor (Wellsville) pinned Alex Scotten (Independence), 4:30; FIFTH: Paul Flowers (Beachwood) dec. Ryan Slone (Black River), 9-4.
285 — FIRST: Jacob Hanzel (Manchester) pinned Mat Hunter (Northwestern), 1:41; THIRD: Paul Deely (Independence) dec. Charlie Smith (United), 3-1; FIFTH: Corley Lamb (Jackson-Milton) pinned Jacob Zimmerman (Orrville), :21.