MEDINA – Wadsworth wrestling coach John Gramuglia’s demeanor following the Medina Division I Sectional on Saturday night was anything but that of a coach whose team had just won the championship.
That Gramuglia’s Grizzlies did, though. Wadsworth won the team title for the first time in three years, scoring 218 points to easily best runner-up Strongsville’s 184.
What had Gramuglia so peeved is that only eight of his athletes moved on to the Massillon Perry District. Two more finished in fifth place and another two in sixth.
“It’s a pretty tough sectional,” Gramuglia said. “We had some tough seeds and a couple had some tough draws, but we’re good enough to get more than eight. We should have had at least 10.
“I’m very happy for the other eight kids. They took that, they handled it and they used our schedule to their advantage. Focusing on the other eight, they’re awesome.”
The upside for the Grizzlies is they had five champions and a runner-up, all of whom will get favorable draws at Perry. Their other two qualifiers both finished fourth.
“It definitely sets you up for going to the state tournament,” said junior Dan Foore, who won the 125-pound title. “It’s definitely going to help get our team mentally prepared.”
Furthering the optimism, the Grizzlies had just eight wrestlers qualify for districts a year ago, yet still finished fourth in the Division I state tournament. They again look to have the firepower to make a run at a top-five finish.
Sophomores Brad Squire (130 pounds), Loudon Gordon (135) and Ben Buzzelli (285) also won championships for the Grizzlies, along with freshman Alfredo Gray (103). Freshman Clay Wenger was runner-up at 119 for Wadsworth. Their other two qualifiers are junior Alex Gray (112) and sophomore Jordan Richards (215).
Barberton senior Adam Cogar added a sixth champion from the Suburban League. He came back from an early injury scare to overwhelm North Royalton senior Josh Zifzal.
“We got in kind of a scramble and it felt like I tweaked something a little,” Cogar said. “It was kind of like that thing where you think you’re going to get hurt, but then nothing’s really wrong.”
Certainly nothing was wrong by the match’s end, after which Cogar sprinted from the gym, down the tunnel behind the stands, then down an adjacent hallway before taking a couple laps in Medina’s wrestling room.
“Once my heart rate’s up, I don’t want to waste it,” Cogar said.
He needed the exercise, having gotten a first-round bye then only wrestled for a total of 4 minutes, 37 seconds in his two matches prior to the finals. Either way, Cogar is looking very much like someone likely to be atop the podium in two weeks at the Schottenstein Center.
The Barberton star was runner-up a year ago. Despite champion Justin Powell of Boardman having graduated, Cogar was only ranked No. 2 in the Brakeman report, behind Cincinnati Elder’s Orlando Scales, a slight Cogar takes in stride.
“I really don’t care what people think,” he said. “I guess some people might relax a little more if they’re ranked first. I don’t think I would have. I still think it’s kind of cool to be ranked second.”
Brakeman-ranked wrestlers were all over the place in the 140-pound class, with three of the top four in the state at Medina. The rankings held, but not without some interesting outcomes and a little controversy.
Brecksville’s Kyle Lang, ranked second, met third-ranked William Sheppard of Akron Kenmore in the semifinals. Sheppard defeated Lang by a point at the Dies Memorial four weeks ago. This time, Lang overwhelmed Sheppard, tech-falling him 16-1 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Richie Spicel of Brunswick.
The match looked early like it might go through to criteria, but a pivotal official’s decision shifted the match in Spicel’s favor. Up 1-0 with an escape, Lang was trying to prevent Spicel from getting one of his own, when he was ruled to have intentionally pushed Spicel out of bounds.
“The referees really know what they’re talking about,” Lang said with a deadpan tone. “They’re really good.”
The penalty point tied the match and forced Lang to kick Spicel out. The Brunswick wrestler recorded a take-down to lead 4-1 and won the match 4-2.
“I’m sure I’ll see him in the district finals,” Spicel said. “It was more of a feeling match. I need more movement, need to take more shots.”
Matching Wadsworth’s eight district qualifiers were Strongsville and Kenmore. Brecksville saw seven move on; Nordonia had six advance and Barberton five.
Strongsville checked in with three champs. Junior David Bolger (112), and seniors Matt Haxton (145) and Joe Stewart (171) also won for the Mustangs.
Brunswick was the other team with multiple champions, junior 152-pounder David Doyle joining Spicel. Others champs were Brecksville Ryan Marks (119, senior), Cuyahoga Falls’ Ethan Taylor (160, junior) and Kenmore’s Cody Lamberg (189, sophomore).