Medina Highland wins team title at Bill Dies Memorial Tournament


Brunswick’s Richie Spicel wrestles Kenmore’s William Sheppard at the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament

Freshman Dan Mirman and senior Bart Young got things rolling for Medina Highland, winning championships at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively, in
leading the Hornets to the overall championship at the 21st annual Bill
Dies Memorial Tournament. Senior Steve Timoteo added insurance with another first at 152 pounds. Kenmore finished second and Waynedale was third.

AKRON – In wrestling, the big guys tend to be the heroes in team events, with the little guys having done their thing sometimes hours earlier. Saturday at Firestone High School in Akron, the contributions of Medina Highland’s two lightweights were anything but forgotten by the time their biggest guy won the biggest match.

Freshman Dan Mirman and senior Bart Young got things rolling for the Hornets, winning championships at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively, in leading Highland to the overall championship at the 21st annual Bill Dies Memorial Tournament.

“This was a total tournament effort to win this,” Highland coach Mark Savoia said. “We were down 10-12 points (after the semifinals). I basically said we have to win all our matches and they (Apple Creek Waynedale and Akron Kenmore) have to lose most of theirs. Except for an injury default, we won all our matches.”

When 215-pound junior Tyler Houska won his third-place match with a 40-second pin of Stow’s Kris Maruna, it gave the Hornets 190 points. That was good enough to edge runner-up Kenmore, which had a pair of champions and two runners-up.

Waynedale finished third with 182.5 points. That was the same total the Golden Bears had after the semifinals before going winless in three championship matches and three other placement bouts.

“You hate to rely on someone else to do your work for you,” Savoia said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice little treat. It happens. It’s what tournaments and the team race are about. Sometimes you have to have someone else help you out.”

In addition to their two early titles, the Hornets got a third championship when senior Steve Timoteo won at 152 pounds. They got some key points when junior Ben Brown won the 160-pound third-place match.

That set the stage for Houska, who earlier was forced to default his semi-final match against Barberton’s Adam Cogar due to a bursa sac problem. The junior advanced to the third-place match with a second-period pin of Creston Norwayne’s Matt Magyar, then made quick work of Maruna.

With Kenmore’s Cody Lamberg beating Waynedale’s Jared Neff in the 189-pound championship, Houska needed at least a major decision to give the Hornets the title.

He did one better than that.

“I didn’t expect that to happen,” he said of his decisive pin. “He’s a good wrestler. I just caught him.”

For runner-up Kenmore, the day was a rousing success, near miss atop the standings or not. Sophomores Garland McCormick (130) and Lamberg (189) won championships for the Cardinals. Seniors Isaiah Chapman (125), Erick May (135) and William Sheppard (140) finished second

The big match for the Cardinals was Sheppard’s final against former state champ Richie Spicel of Brunswick. The two went back and forth in regulation, with Spicel scoring with 10 seconds left to send it into overtime.

In the overtime periods, neither could muster more than the obligatory kick-out escape, but Spicel got a traditional escape in the sudden-death period to win. From Kenmore coach Lee Thompson’s point of view, Sheppard’s performance was a tone-setter for the rest of the year.

“I think it was huge,” he said. ‘We had a couple other matches (Sheppard) lost he lost by one point and it was because he didn’t have the confidence that he could beat the kids, because they had placed high in the state last year.

“If we should be lucky enough to face Spicel somewhere in the state tournament or in the state finals, we might have the confidence that we can be right there with him.”

Spicel, who earned tournament MVP honors after winning his first three matches in lopsided fashion, liked having the competition in the title bout.

“It’s a good match to see where I’m at, conditioning-wise, strength-wise and technique-wise,” he said. “Going into the third period I felt good. Going into the third overtime I felt like I could go another match.”

The two will likely meet again at the Medina Division I Sectional, and perhaps at districts and state as well. That in mind, Spicel was happy to have a match against Sheppard under his belt, win or lose.

“I always feel more comfortable wrestling somebody once before I have to wrestle them again when it comes to getting to the show,” he said.

Other individual champions included Kyle Gilchrist of Jefferson Area (senior, 119); Jonathan Kostandaras of Richfield Revere (senior, 125); Drew Leonard of Norton (senior, 145); Billy Calhoun of Green (junior, 160); Norwayne’s J.D. Smyers (senior, 171); Barberton’s Cogar (senior, 215); and Canal Fulton Northwest’s Vince Magestro (senior, 285), who pinned Norwayne’s Zach Murray with a second left.

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