ELYRIA — An escape here, a reversal there … the Pioneers knew they were just a move or two away Wednesday night from winning a Division I regional championship in the second annual state dual team tournament.
Elyria rolled through Mount Vernon in a regional semifinal, then lost 36-30 to Oregon Clay in the final.
“Our kids fight — I never count them out,” Elyria coach Erik Burnett said. “You don’t know what can happen (in a dual meet). As it turns out, if we’re a little bit better at getting off the bottom, maybe we’re going down to Columbus (for the state tournament).”
The Pioneers advanced to the championship with a 54-21 win over the Yellow Jackets, highlighted by five pins — the most impressive coming from sophomore Mikah Price against Mount Vernon’s Lane Hinkle, who is ranked No. 7 in the state by Intermat’s Josh Lowe.
Hinkle had pinned Price a month earlier at the Brecksville Holiday tournament.
“I just came into the match knowing that I wanted to win,” said Price, who used a cradle for the victory. “It’s a big win, but a win’s a win. I’m just trying to focus on state … I’m just trying to win (the Northeast Ohio) conference.”
The meet served as Senior Night for the Pioneers — the actual event against Olmsted Falls was cancelled Saturday due to weather — but Burnett said the underclassmen showed plenty of growth during the two dual meets.
“That’s a big win (for Price),” Burnett said. “To come back and beat a kid that’s beaten you before, that shows a little bit of a winning attitude … and that’s what you’re hoping for. That’s what we’re looking for out of these younger guys.”
Not that the seniors didn’t contribute.
Armando Torres earned a forfeit in the opener, then pinned Clay’s Chad Berning in the first period in the final. Connor Kamczyc picked up a pair of pins at 220 pounds.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing it’s Senior Night and it’s my last two matches in this gymnasium, so it was good to go out like this,” Kamczyc said. “I’ve been trying to save myself for the end of the season. I’m going to try to come in strong at conference, sectionals, districts and hopefully make it to state.”
Joining Torres, Price and Kamczyc with 2-0 records were sophomore Ben Darmstadt, and freshmen J.T. Brown and Kevin Vough.
Vough squared off against Clay’s Antonio Zapata — ranked No. 4 in the state — who played the hero in Clay’s 30-30 semifinal win over Perrysburg. Zapata eked out a 4-3 win over Perrysburg’s Cale Bonner — ranked No. 2 in the state — in the ultimate tiebreaker to tie the dual meet after 14 matches. The Eagles advanced on criteria.
Zapata never had a chance against Vough, who snapped him to the mat, scored a takedown and later flipped the heavyweight to his back for a nearfall and an 8-2 victory.
“It was a hard match against a good opponent … I worked really hard to get him,” Vough said. “I go into (matches) thinking I can beat (my opponents). I tell myself I can do anything that I put my mind to.”
Consistently beating top-10 opponents throughout his freshman season has Vough thinking about a state championship.
“It’s a very possible goal,” he said. “I want to get it. I want to get high on that podium.”
Burnett attributes Vough’s success to more than just brute strength and solid technique.
“Kevin’s really mentally tough,” Burnett said. “Whether they are in ninth grade, fourth grade, 12th grade … mental toughness is something where you can build on it, but it’s really nice if a kid already has it. That’s what that kid is all about.”
The performance — and being just a few points from the final eight — might be just what the Pioneers needed to add the state team tournament to their annual list of season goals.
“I would hope so,” Burnett said. “Dual meets are fun. When you get further along like this, every match is just a little more cool, a little more fun to be part of.”
Elyria 54, Mount Vernon 21
106 — Cameron Farmer (MV) dec. DeVontae Bowens,
6-2. 113 — Ben Tate (MV) pinned Brandon Lang, 1:43. 120 — Armando Torres (E) won by forfeit. 126 — Brendan Price (E) maj. dec. Robe Harris, 12-2. 132 — Matteo Lybarger (MV) pinned Jesse Orantek, 3:59. 138 — Mikah Price (E) pinned Lane Hinkle, 2:54. 145 — Darrion Overall (E) pinned Cayleb Cole, 3:56. 152 — Ben Darmstadt (E) maj. dec. Lucas Staten, 11-1. 160 — Taylor Workman (E) maj. dec. Dale Thompson, 21-8. 170 — J.T. Brown (E) won by forfeit. 182 — Cameron King (E) pinned Nathan Minor, 3:48. 195 — Matthew Lybarger (MV) pinned Tyler Giorgini, 3:37. 220 — Connor Kamczyc (E) pinned Chris Jeffery, 1:23. 285 — Kevin Vough (E) pinned Chase Gallagher, 1:24.
Oregon Clay 30, Perrysburg 30
106 — Nick Henneman (OC) dec. Khyron Vidales, 7-1. 113 — Mario Guillen (P) tech. fall Evan True, 16-1. 120 — Moises Guillen (P) dec. Chad Berning, 8-4. 126 — Brock Jones (P) dec. Aaron Henneman, 5-4. 132 — Richie Screptock (OC) pinned Josh Herhold, 4:46. 138 — Leo Romp (P) dec. Mondragon Calixtro, 5-4. 145 — Gavin Nelson (OC) dec. Matt Waltermeyer, 7-3. 152 — J.P. Newton (P) pinned Zach Brown, 1:37. 160 — Nick Stencel (OC) dec. Dan Waltermeyer, 8-4. 170 — Andy Howard (OC) pinned Chase Newton, 3:39. 182 — Rocco Caywood (P) pinned Kevin Witt, 1:26. 195 — Matt Stencel (OC) won by forfeit. 220 — Kadin Llewellyn (P) maj. dec. Tyler Koester, 12-3. 285 — Antonio Zapata (OC) dec. Cale Bonner, 4-3 (UTB).
Oregon Clay 36, Elyria 30
106 — N. Henneman (OC) pinned Bowens, :23. 113 — True (OC) pinned Lang, 3:41. 120 — Torres (E) pinned Berning, 1:47. 126 — A. Henneman (OC) dec. B. Price, 5-4. 132 — Screptock (OC) maj. dec. Orantek, 14-0. 138 — M. Price (E) pinned Calixtro, 1:19. 145 — Nelson (OC) dec. Overall, 4-2. 152 — Darmstadt (E) pinned Darren Todd, 1:59. 160 — N. Stencel (OC) dec. Workman, 9-3. 170 — Brown (E) dec. Howard, 3-0. 182 — Witt (OC) tech. fall King, 18-1. 195 — M. Stencel (OC) pinned Giorgini, 2:37. 220 — Kamczyc (E) pinned Koester, 2:41. 285 — Vough (E) dec. Zapata, 8-2.