Published in The News-Herald
February 7, 2016
Regardless of the sport, when business picks up in a team title race, coaches and athletes circle like a hawk.
Or in the case of the Western Reserve Conference tournament Feb. 6 at Madison, they circled like a Bomber — for a perch well worth the trouble.
Kenston got individual crowns from Brad Verbic (145 pounds) and Josh Miller (182) and four runners-up to capture the WRC title with 177 points, ahead of Mayfield (174), South (173) and Madison (170.5).
“It feels good coming in and winning the tournament — that’s awesome,” Bombers coach Brian Malloy said. “A great job for the boys that came here getting extra points. They knew it was going to be close. We all knew it was going to be close. All the coaches knew it was going to be close. It feels really good to go out there and have our guys wrestle as best as they can to pull off the victory and win this thing.”
Verbic recorded a pin at 145 in 3 minutes, 22 seconds, and Miller also delivered a second-period pin in 2:59 for Kenston, which was second by two points to Mayfield heading into the first- and third-place matches. The Bombers also got seconds from Noah Georgian (113), Joby Herbruck (126), Aaron Begy (138), and Joe Koplow (152).
In perhaps the highlight match of the afternoon, featuring two of the three returning Division I state qualifiers competing at WRC, South’s Spencer Dusi won by decision at 113 over Georgian, 5-0. It was Round 3 for the fellow area lower-weight stalwarts, with Dusi winning, 6-0, at the Solon Comet Classic and Georgian taking a 5-4 decision at D-I regional duals.
“This was definitely a lot better than last time,” Dusi said. “Last time I just felt off. It wasn’t me, and today I felt like I wrestled like I should have.
“It was just being aggressive and not backing down. The last match, I backed down a little bit and he was able to take advantage of that. And that’s pretty much it.”
Chardon had four individual champions, including a solid performance from 152-pounder Sam Rocazella. Rocazella, who captured the last Premier Athletic Conference title at 152 and was a D-I district qualifier as a sophomore last year, earned a 10-5 decision in his first-place match.
“It feels pretty good,” Rocazella said. “It was fun coming back here, even though it changed to WRC. I was really excited, trying to get back out here. I saw the lineup and I was like, ‘I can do this.’ You’ve just got to have the mindset. I got the music going, got pumped and I did it. I’m really proud of that.”
Hilltoppers 195-pounder Devin Johnson, a D-I Austintown-Fitch Sectional champion who was fifth at the Mentor District a year ago, won his meet crown with a pin in 54 seconds. Matt Klingbergs took the 220 title with a 5-2 decision, and Sam Eldridge rode a two-point move in the final minute of the third period to a 7-4 decision at 160.
Runner-up Mayfield got a meet title from returning D-I district qualifier Johnny Craker at 106, who had a 9-2 decision in his final, and seconds from Noah Fredrickson (170) and Carl Stacey (220). Other area individual champions crowned at WRC were South’s Mike Farkus (120), Isaac Hendershot (132), Milton Howard (170) and Nik Urban (heavyweight) and Madison’s Joey Hersh (126) and Tyler McGroder (138).
Visit The News-Herald for First-place match highlights of 113, 126, 145, 160, 195, 220, and Heavyweight; also, audio interview with Coach Malloy.