AMHERST — On the last day of school before the winter break, the Amherst High students were treated to a rare daytime wrestling dual meet between two of the top team in the area — their Comets and rival Lorain.
The Comets didn’t disappoint in front of their schoolmates, getting five pins and a technical fall Friday afternoon to defeat the Titans 53-18 in the non-conference meet.
It was the second year the schools wrestled each other during the day, and the meet’s proceeds went to the American Brain Tumor Association in the name of Amherst coach Brian Cesear’s mother, Marilyn, who died as a result of a brain tumor.
“For me, it means a lot of things on a bunch of different levels,” Cesear said. “I can remember when I was in high school and you want all your friends to come to your matches and you look up in the stands and you see maybe a dozen of them there, so I wanted to do something to make it fun for the kids, something that they could look forward to and remember for the rest of their lives.
“The other thing, too, is we’ve got to do a better job of promoting our sport. Hopefully, kids will get excited about this and maybe we’ll have more kids come out for the team. My administrators allowed me to donate the money in honor of my mom, which is a great feeling as well.”
Amherst senior Bryan DeRuchie, whose first-period pin of Brandon Bartlome at 126 pounds started a run of eight victories over the final nine matches, was happy with the setup.
“Wrestling in front of the students at my own school, in front of your peers and your family, that’s something new and something we’ve never done before,” he said. “For it to happen during my senior year was great. To show them what a great team we are and to go out against another solid team in Lorain and really go at them and win, it’s something very exciting.”
Amherst (3-1) was also spotted 12 points as a result of two Titans (2-1) forfeits. But through the first eight weight classes, the meet was pretty even.
Devione and Xavier Edwards picked up pins at 106 and 120, respectively, to give the Titans a 15-9 lead. DeRuchie’s pin and a forfeit at 132 gave the Comets a 21-15 lead, setting up the match of the day at 138.
Lorain’s Eli Garcia — a 2011 state qualifier — and Amherst’s Alex Funderburg — a two-time district qualifier — staged a very competitive match. Garcia jumped out to a dominating lead, going into the third period ahead 8-2 and increasing that lead to 10-2. However, Funderburg snagged a couple of late takedowns to cut the deficit to 12-7, but ran out of time.
“Eli went down to 138 for the first time, and sometimes when you go down for the very first time, you can run out of gas,” Lorain coach Jim Kudrin said. “Eli’s a very good wrestler, as is Alex. In fact, their whole squad has a bunch of very good wrestlers, and you can see why they are one of the toughest programs in this area.”
The win cut the deficit to 21-18, but from that point it was all Comets.
Bryce and Austin Williams earned back-to-back pins at 145 and 152, respectively, followed by a dominating 17-1 technical fall by Mike Wearsch over Luther Washington at 160 that wrapped up the Comets victory.
Michael Figueroa began the dual with a pin at 220, while Derek Eibon added another pin at 182 for Amherst.
“We came out here with a mission, and I think everybody was aggressive,” Cesear said. “We’ve been doing the things we’ve been working on in practice, and that’s all you can ask for.
“Funderburg had a tough opponent. Eli’s probably the best guy on their team, but that’s what makes a wrestler better — going up against the best. Hopefully, we see him again down the road when it really counts, and hopefully, we can get after him then.”
Kudrin was pleased to take part in something that raised money for such a great cause.
“I was Brian’s Cub Scout master, along with his dad, way back when,” he said. “I’d like to talk about his mom, Marilyn, who we all miss. She was dear friends with my wife. I understand the money will be donated to the same charity as last year in her honor, and we’re real grateful for that. This is a very class act here at Amherst, that’s for sure.”
Cesear hopes that the daytime dual series will continue.
“I kind of set this up last year with (former Lorain coach) Billy Kopp,” he said. “I agreed to do it last year at their place and they agreed to come here this year. If not Lorain, then we’d like to continue it with someone else. But I hope to keep it going with Lorain.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amherst 53, Lorain 18
106 — Devione Edwards (L) pinned Michael Falencki, 2:35. 113 — Christian Lough (A) dec. Markus Cruz, 4-2. 120 — Xavier Edwards (L) pinned Anthony Leyva, 3:53. 126 — Bryan DeRuchie (A) pinned Brandon Bartlome, 1:54. 132 — Christian Calo (A) won by forfeit. 138 — Eli Garcia (L) dec. Alex Funderburg, 12-7. 145 — Bryce Williams (A) pinned Blake Benyard, 3:50. 152 — Austin Williams (A) pinned George Colvin, 2:52. 160 — Mike Wearsch (A) tech. fall Luther Washington, 17-1. 170 — Mike Sliman (A) won by forfeit. 182 — Derek Eibon (A) pinned Aaron Neal, 4:24. 195 — Dennis Breeding (A) dec. Devin Resseger, 8-2. 220 — Michael Figueroa (A) pinned Charles Cook, 2:44. 285 — Robert Wagner (L) dec. Stephan Moody, 3-1.