Like many wrestlers in the Elyria program, senior Chad Shaffer began wrestling in the school’s biddie program when he was in the fourth grade.
Unlike many wrestlers in the Elyria program, Shaffer decided the sport wasn’t for him and quit.
“I just didn’t like it,” he said. “But I also don’t like failing at things, and I felt that first time around I had failed. So I wanted to come back and accomplish something.”
Shaffer jumped back on the mats in the seventh grade at Westwood Junior High, battling during practices throughout the week and heading to Elyria High on Tuesdays and Thursdays for extra practice. He also began training under Pioneers coach Erik Burnett at All-American Wrestling — aka The Barn — in LaGrange during the year.
“I began to do better, I had more confidence,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer steadily improved and worked his way up the Pioneers depth chart. He was part of the varsity lineup last season as a junior, but injuries to his shoulder and knee limited his success.
But he entered his senior season healthy and made his debut at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman. He went 0-2 in the tournament, but knew those matches were the toughest he’d see all season.
“I’ve faced a bunch of tough guys this year already,” Shaffer said. “There were some tough competitors at the Ironman. It showed that I still had work to do and it showed me what exactly I needed to work on.”
Shaffer has bounced back from his shutout start, earning a pin against Strongsville and a technical fall against Walsh Jesuit on Thursday night to improve to 14-6. The bonus points against the Mustangs helped the Pioneers finish unbeaten in Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division dual meets.
“(I’ve earned bonus points in) at least 70 percent of my matches,” Shaffer said. “Those bonus points are really important to the team, whether we’re wrestling in a dual meet or in a tournament, and sometimes, like tonight, bonus points can be the deciding factor in a dual meet.”
Week in review
- Lorain finished seventh out of 18 teams at the Ron Masanek Invitational at Fairfield High last Friday and Saturday. Leading the way for the Titans was Eli Garcia, who won the 138-pound championship. Also placing for Lorain were Devione Edwards (third at 106 pounds), Luther Washington (fourth at 170), Markus Cruz (sixth at 113) and Aaron Neal (sixth at 182).
- Avon finished sixth out of 17 teams at the Pin City Invitational at Perry High last Friday and Saturday, while North Ridgeville finished eighth and Lutheran West finished 15th. Earning the area’s lone championship was North Ridgeville’s Drew Dickson at 120 pounds. Placing for the Eagles were Hamza Kirresh (runner-up at 182), Jake Delorge (third at 145), Max Kuchenrither (fifth at 126), Alex Shermak (sixth at 113), Adam Kirresh (sixth at 132), Paul Sturm (sixth at 195) and Jack Gothier (seventh at 120). Also placing for the Rangers were Evan Collier (runner-up at 113), Nick Bailey (fourth at 285), Ricky Godri (fifth at 145), Riley Gannon (sixth at 106), Colin Riley (sixth at 160), Justin Dodge (eighth at 126) and Nick Asp (eighth at 152). Placing for the St. Edward White team — the Eagles took fourth — were Sheffield Lake’s Kevin Khoma (fourth at 170) and Avon’s Kevin Ward (eighth at 285).
- Amherst went 5-0 at the Mentor Duals last Saturday, and was co-champs with Mason. The Comets downed Kenston (41-25), Geneva (57-22), Olentangy Liberty (48-26), Solon (41-36) and a team of extras (54-21). Going 5-0 for the Comets were Alex Funderburg — recording career win No. 100 in the process — Bryce Williams, Mike Sliman, Derek Eibon, Todd Hastings and Dennis Breeding, while Bryan DeRuchie, Austin Williams, Mike Wearsch and Stephan Moody. Wearsch’s lone loss was to defending state champion Anthony Colica of Solon, DeRuchie’s loss came to two-time state champ Brandon Thompson of Solon and Austin Williams’ loss came again Jake Ryan, son of Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan, of Olentangy Liberty.
- Elyria went 4-1 at the Mentor Duals, with wins over Mentor (47-18), Solon (43-30), Twinsburg (54-21) and Geneva (64-12). The Pioneers’ loss came against Mason (36-29). Going 5-0 for the Pioneers were Armando Torres (113 pounds), Darrion Overall (126), Brandon Egnor (132) and Chad Shaffer (138/145), while Nico O’Dor (106), Ben Darmstadt (120), Taylor Workman (170) and heavyweight T.J. Halstead went 4-1.
- Firelands finished 14th out of 17 teams at the Woodmore “A” Classic on Friday and Saturday. The lone placer for the Falcons was Angel Alexander, who won the 132-pound championship.
- Wellington finished fourth out of 14 teams at the Chippewa Invitational last Friday and Saturday, and were led by 132-pound champion Ben Provoznik. Also placing for the Dukes were Kaz Dec (runner-up at 182), Alex Imhoff (third at 145), Jon Eschedor (fourth at 126), Jacob Downs (fifth at 106), Josh Kitko (fifth at 152), Matt Kitko (fifth at 170) and Nick Amspaugh (sixth at 113).
- Keystone finished seventh out of 13 teams at the Plymouth Invitational on Saturday, led by Logan Stiner’s championship at 132 pounds. Also placing for the Wildcats were Jacob Worthington (runner-up at 182), Chris McKenzie (fourth at 138) and Clay Hartley (fifth at 145).
- Black River finished 10th out of 23 teams at the J.C. Gorman Invitational at Mansfield Senior last Friday and Saturday. Winning championships were Spencer White at 113 pounds and Mike Hozan at 120, while Sebastian Vidika (runner-up at 106) and Jake Maund (fifth at 182) also placed for the Pirates.
Tournaments on tap
- Avon Lake, Brookside, Clearview and Columbia and Elyria White will compete at the Len Pariano Memorial at Midpark High on Saturday.
- Midview will compete at the Joe Searcy Memorial at Bedford High on Saturday.
- St. Edward will compete at the Detroit Catholic Duals in Novi, Mich., on Saturday.
Player of the week
Drew Dickson, North Ridgeville
- YEAR: Senior
- WEIGHT: 120 pounds
- LAST WEEK: Went 6-0 — three pins, two technical falls and a major decision — to win the 120-pound championship at the Perry Pin City Invitational last weekend.
- DREW’S THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK: “I felt like I wrestled really good. I was sort of upset because (Perry’s) Collin Dees dropped to 113, and Tim Mecklenburg from Lutheran West went up to 126. I was hoping to face both those guys. It was a well-run tournament and I had fun.”
- OFF THE MAT: Loves lifting all year, at home, the school and Powerhouse Gym in North Olmsted. His favorite class is Decamarketing, a marketing and advertising class that has competitions in February — he qualified to state as a junior. During the summer, works at Olmsted Ice, a family business in which his father is a part owner. He also enjoys going out to eat with his friends.
- PARENTS: Tom and Lisa
- FUTURE PLANS: He wants to make it to state and place this season, then would like to wrestle in college – Arizona State tops his wish list. Would like to study toward a business degree.