There was nothing down about the Eagles this weekend, as they easily won the championship of the 33rd annual Medina Invitational Tournament. St. Edward finished with 255.5 points to out-distance runner-up Claymont (163).
Davison (Mich.) was third with 161.5, followed by Massillon Perry (156.5) and Uniontown Lake (130.5). Urichsville Claymont was the top Division II team, while Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, which placed 10th overall with 93 points, was the Division III squad with the highest finish.
The Eagles had five individual champs and a pair of runners-up. No other team had more than one champ, though Lake did place three wrestlers in the finals.
“I’m extremely proud,” St. Edward coach Greg Urbas said. “We’ve had a couple of rough outings. The Ironman was a tough outing for us (the Eagles finished third) and Graham took it took us in the duals. But the last couple weeks it’s all seemed like it’s started coming together.”
The Eagles got championships from Gus Sako (103 pounds), Jamie Clark (112), Collin Palmer (135), Connor Suba (145) and Brian Roddy (171). Anthony Salupo (135) and Nick Sulzer (130) finished second.
St. Edward’s victory came two weeks after losing 47-13 to St. Paris Graham in a dual meet, snapping a 10-year win streak against Ohio teams. It also featured a healthy Palmer, who missed the dual loss to Graham with a back injury.
“It’s hurting a lot,” Palmer said. “There’s nothing I can do but push through it.”
The same goes for all the Eagles. They’ve won the last 11 big-school state championships and have no intention of stopping that streak.
“Obviously this year is a down year for St. Ed’s, but all the guys are sticking together and pushing each other,” Palmer said. “Everything’s going to be fine. It’s a huge difference after last year. It’s all right, though. We’re not worried about it.”
Urbas didn’t seem so, either. The earlier losses, though frustrating and uncustomary, were meaningless in the grand scheme. When the postseason rolls around, the Eagles are expected to be the last team standing.
“As long as they keep working hard and we keep making corrections and they keep making adjustments, the big picture is at the end of the year,” the Eagles coach said. “And that’s what we’re shooting for: a state championship.”
Claymont, which finished fifth in the state in Division II last year, has similar goals, though St. Paris Graham will have a ton to say about that. The Mustangs showed at Medina they can be contenders. They had one champion, 119-pounder Cody Garbrandt. Zach Garbrandt was runner-up at 160.
Ryder Dynes finished third at 145, while Jeremy Regula and Lionel Woods played fourth at 135 and 171, respectively.
“We set some high goals this year,” Claymont coach Eric Toukenen said. “The guys have been working extremely hard and put more time in the offseason than they ever had before. We’re focusing on the state duals next week. Anything can happen there. These are all steps and this is all nice, but the bottom line is, what we do next weekend and at the end of February is what matters.”
For Cody Garbrandt, wrestling as a defending champion has certainly upped the expectations. He’s well aware of it.
Despite the loaded field at Medina, Garbrandt had little problems getting through before stopping Kyle Ciccarello of Lyndhurst Brush 12-9 in overtime in the championship match.
“I always expect to win when I go to a tournament, but I know I have to wrestle my best now,” Garbrandt said. “I won a state title (at 112), so it’s expected of me. It makes me wrestle a lot harder and train a lot harder. This is the hardest I’ve trained.”
Other MIT individual champions included Lake’s Scott Mattingly (125), Massillon Perry’s Seth Horner (130), Brunswick’s Richie Spicel (140), CVCA’s Jared Kusar (152), Westerville North’s Chris Kline (160), Oak Harbor’s Cody Magrum (189), Barberton’s Adam Cogar (215) and West Holmes’ Tyler Hawkins (285).