AVON LAKE — It’s been a long time since Lorain County wrestlers had such a dominating showing at the season-opening Knights of Columbus wrestling tournament at Avon Lake High School.
Over the past 10 years of the 32-year-old event, Lorain County never had more than seven individual champs, and you have to go all the way back to the 1980s to find the last area school to win back-to-back titles (Elyria in ’86 and ’87) and the last time Lorain County teams even won two years in a row (Brookside followed the Pioneers in ’88).
Saturday night, that all changed.
Amherst used nine championship finalists and five individual champions to claim its second consecutive team championship (and third overall) by scoring 319 points.
How dominant were the Comets? Well, heading into the finals, they were already within five points of last season’s winning score (297).
Lorain County wrestlers were strong, too, winning 10 of the 14 individual weight classes, led by Amherst’s five champions — Bryan DeRuchie (132), Bryce Williams (145), Austin Williams (152), Nick Wearsch (160) and Mike Sliman (170).
OK, maybe Bellevue’s withdrawal from the tournament because of the school’s appearance in the Division III state championship football game was a factor, not that anybody was complaining.
“It’s good to see some success,” Amherst coach Brian Cesear said. “But also, it was good to see some areas that we need to improve. Our overall performance was definitely a lot better than last year. We came out to wrestle, for the most part. I’m proud of my kids, and I thought we wrestled pretty well.”
The Williams twins claimed their first K of C titles in back-to-back matches and were pleased to not only do it together, but to play a key role in their team’s dominating performance.
“Last year, I got fourth here and the year before that, I got eighth, so I really wanted to win it this year,” said Bryce Williams, who pinned Avon’s Jake DeLorge in 2:28 in the finals.
Added Austin Williams, who shut out North Ridgeville’s Nick Asp 7-0 in the finals: “We had a real nice week of practice leading up to this.”
North Ridgeville (203) couldn’t quite catch West Shore Conference rival Bay (239) for second place, but the Rangers finished with two individual champions, one of whom made some history in the process.
Senior Drew Dickson emerged from the tough 126-pound weight class with his third K of C individual championship, becoming just the 13th wrestler to win the tournament three times. He won a 14-4 major decision over Bay’s Adam Tepper.
“It feels really good to be a three-time champion,” Dickson said. “I worked hard for it and I knew coming in that I could do it.”
Toward the end of the match, Dickson injured his left shoulder. He finished the match and had an icepack on his shoulder while he spoke to reporters.
Defending Keystone state placer and K of C champion Dylan Stiner also injured his shoulder while being pinned by Tepper in the 126-pound semifinals and had to default to sixth place. Stiner’s arm was in a sling and his coaches said they’ll know more after an MRI early this week.
Dickson’s teammate and drill partner Evan Collier claimed the 113-pound championship with a 14-4 major decision over Ben Tepper, giving the third-place Rangers two individual champions.
“It feels really good,” said Collier, who finished second at last season’s K of C. “I came really close here last year and it was really disappointing. So I was real happy to finally win it. I worked really hard in the offseason for it and I feel a lot stronger this year. It showed.”
Amherst’s lone defending K of C champion, Alex Funderburg, couldn’t claim his second straight title. In one of the best matches in the finals, Funderburg fell to Lakewood’s Yassir Abdel-Salam 8-6 in overtime at 138. Abdel-Salam — a two-time K of C champion — was named Most Valuable Wrestler.
“Funderburg wrestled a heck of a match,” Cesear said. “I know he took second, but I’d rather see him take second to a quality opponent than see him pin a lesser kid when I know he’s not going to get anything out of that match.”
Keystone 132-pounder Logan Stiner won the most falls award, pinning six opponents while finishing third in his class. Sophomore teammate Jacob Worthington pinned Amherst’s Dennis Breeding in 3:45 to win the 195-pound championship, helping the Wildcats take 10th with 125 points.
“That was a tough kid from Amherst,” Worthington said. “They have a tough program. … But I’ve been working hard this whole offseason and trying to get better. I just missed out on state last year, so my goal is to make it, and this was a nice first step in that journey.”
Avon edged Rocky River for fourth place, 185.5-184. The Eagles had one individual champion in Hamza Kirresh (182), who edged Amherst’s Derek Eibon, 4-3.
The host Shoremen, who finished ninth with 130 points, had one individual champion in freshman Joe Bernosky, who had an 8-0 major decision win over Port Clinton’s Nick Pope in the 126-pound finals.
“It feels awesome,” Bernosky said. “I came in seeded ninth as a ninth-grader and I just came in pinning kids and got on a roll. I’ve been watching this tournament forever growing up, so to win it in my first time is awesome.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Amherst 319, 2. Bay 239, 3. North Ridgeville 203, 4. Avon 185.5, 5. Rocky River 184, 6. Clearview 146, 7. Port Clinton 141, 8. Lakewood 137, 9. Avon Lake 130, 10. Keystone 125, 11. Holy Name 90.5, 12. Normandy 87, 13. Brookside 80, 14. Midview 73, 15. Vermilion 31.5.
106 — FIRST: Vince Zitiello (Bay) dec. Aaron Kelly (Rocky River), 10-5; THIRD: Frank Rizzo (Avon) dec. Zach Carte (Midview), 4-3; FIFTH: Jason Grau (Midview) pinned Jarrett Hylton (Clearview), 2:07.
113 — FIRST: Evan Collier (North Ridgeville) maj. dec. Ben Tepper (Bay), 14-4; THIRD: Nick Mayer (Avon Lake) dec. Dan Mahoney (Rocky River), 8-2; FIFTH: Alex Shermak (Avon) pinned Brian Stringer (Avon), 1:36.
120 — FIRST: Drew Dickson (North Ridgeville) maj. dec. Adam Tepper (Bay), 14-4; THIRD: Brad Spau (Rocky River) dec. Jack Gothier (Avon), 4-0; FIFTH: Anthony Mendez (Amherst) def. Dylan Stiner (Keystone) by inj. default.
126 — FIRST: Joe Bernosky (Avon Lake) maj. dec. Nick Pope (Port Clinton), 8-0; THIRD: Nick Foster (Holy Name) pinned David Gadelsayed (Rocky River), 5:48; FIFTH: Dave Reynolds (Normandy) pinned Anthony Leyva (Amherst), 4:12.
132 — FIRST: Bryan DeRuchie (Amherst) dec. Mike Hollingsworth (Clearview), 7-2; THIRD: Logan Stiner (Keystone) pinned Max Kuchenrither (Avon), 2:03; FIFTH: Drew Schatz (Midview) pinned Adam Kirresh (Avon), 2:28.
138 — FIRST: Yassir Abdel-Salam (Lakewood) dec. Alex Funderburg (Amherst), 8-6 OT; THIRD: Adam Barker (Avon) dec. Matt Hollingsworth (Clearview), 3-2; FIFTH: Caleb Cuevas (Port Clinton) maj. dec. Brent Ningard (North Ridgeville), 17-7.
145 — FIRST: Bryce Williams (Amherst) pinned Jake DeLorge (Avon), 2:28; THIRD: Ricky Godri (North Ridgeville) dec. Seamus Kilbane (Rocky River), 4-0; FIFTH: Robbie Peterman (Port Clinton) def. Aaron Smith (Port Clinton) by inj. default.
152 — FIRST: Austin Williams (Amherst) dec. Nick Asp (North Ridgeville), 7-0; THIRD: Tommy Wendling (North Ridgeville) pinned Joe Kubinski (Bay), 1:37; FIFTH: Ian Standen (Brookside) pinned Alex Szuch (Midview), :42.
160 — FIRST: Mike Wearsch (Amherst) dec. Derek Foster (Clearview), 12-8; THIRD: Tyler Mayer (Avon Lake) dec. Colin Riley (North Ridgeville), 10-5; FIFTH: Sean Meaney (Bay) pinned Max Revay (Holy Name), 1:58.
170 — FIRST: Mike Sliman (Amherst) maj. dec. Ralph Johnson (Lakewood), 9-0; THIRD: Dom Ruma (Bay) pinned Jason Barnicle (Avon Lake), 2:16; FIFTH: Jeremy King (Keystone) pinned Felipe Valadez (Clearview), 4:17.
182 — FIRST: Hamza Kirresh (Avon) dec. Derek Eibon (Amherst), 4-3; THIRD: Cody Wright (Bay) pinned Divante Holt (Clearview), 3:16; FIFTH: Brandon Blakely (Avon) dec. Zak Kulina (Lakewood), 5-2.
195 — FIRST: Jacob Worthington (Keystone) pinned Dennis Breeding (Amherst), 3:45; THIRD: Alex Veltre (Holy Name) dec. Matt Spies (Bay), 6-3; FIFTH: Paul Sturm (Avon) pinned Tristian Mallory (Port Clinton), 2:27.
220 — FIRST: Chris Overfield (Port Clinton) pinned Michael Kirkpatrick (Port Clinton), 5:53; THIRD: Emanual Lewis (Lakewood) pinned Matt Beniard (Bay), 1:31; FIFTH: Bill Kelly (Rocky River) pinned Joe Travagliante (Avon), 3:53.
285 — FIRST: Mike Budinsky (Normandy) dec. Stephan Moody (Amherst), 3-2; THIRD: Nick Bailey (North Ridgeville) pinned Jesse Singler (Rocky River), 4:55; FIFTH: Jason Bustance (Keystone) pinned Darrin Demetro (Holy Name), 5:42.