Th Falcons advanced seven competitors to this weekend's district tournament.
AUSTINTOWN -- Injuries have really taken a toll on the Fitch High wrestling team in the past few weeks.
The Falcons lost returning district qualifier Joe Stryffeler to a season-ending ACL knee injury. The junior is slated to have surgery today to repair the damage and missed his chance to compete for his second consecutive district tournament berth.
Also out for Saturday's sectional tournament was Fred Weidenthal, also with a knee injury late in the regular season. The senior would have been seeking his second consecutive trip to the district and state tournaments.
To make matters worse, senior Anthony Gigiliotti was competing at sectionals after hurting his right shoulder during the East Ohio Wrestling League tournament. He bruised his AC shoulder joint and wrestled wearing a protective brace.
Granted, the rash of injuries couldn't have come at a worse time, but the Falcons have managed to fight through their misfortune and renew their focus on the postseason.
The Fitch wrestlers that were able to make it out on the mat for the Division I tournament used their fallen teammates' misfortune as motivation.
The Falcons advanced seven wrestlers to this weekend's district tournament. In the process, Fitch ran away with its second consecutive sectional championship, easily outdistancing Madison, 209.5 points to 154.
"We really felt bad for the guys that got hurt and weren't able to wrestle," said junior Nick Bodnar. "We knew we would be missing two guys that could score some big points for us. So, we had to work hard to get those bonus points with pins and tech falls.
"We're all friends on this team and those of us wrestling wanted to win this team title for the guys who were injured. It was tough for them not to be here, so we just picked up the slack for them."
Bodnar led the charge for Fitch, earning his third consecutive sectional title, this year at 135 pounds. He did so in impressive fashion, scoring two pins and a pair of shutout victories (7-0 and 5-0). In the process, the returning state qualifier won his 100th career match. Bodnar is projected by the Brakeman Report as a top candidate for a state title.
Freshman Tony Jameson (103 pounds) breezed through his first sectional tournament, winning by pin twice and capturing a 10-0 major decision in the finals.
Brakeman has Jameson projected as the state champion at 103.
Brian Weidenthal (125) and R.J. Donadee (140) each captured sectional titles and qualified for districts for the second consecutive year.
Gigiliotti, a senior who moved last year from Latrobe, Pa., proved his mettle by fighting through a shoulder injury to win a sectional title at 145 pounds.
He will be among one of the favorites at the Perry district and is rated as the third-best wrestler by the Brakeman Report.
Dan Boseman was Fitch's surprise of the tournament, as the senior qualified for the district by finishing second at 215. With a 13-9 record and unseeded, he came out of nowhere to advance to the championship match.
"He wrestled one great tournament," said Powell. "He struggled most of the year and came in seeded real low. But we told him to hang in there and keep working hard. He bought into that and good things happened for him."
Mike Westhead finished fourth at 130 to earn a trip to districts.
"We've been battling injuries the last couple of weeks and the kids tonight kind of dedicated this win to the ones who got hurt and couldn't compete. I'm really happy with how things went," said Powell.
Boardman will be represented at the district by Adam Chizmar (119), Jon Green (130), Mike Pasquale (189) and Justin Powell (215). The Spartans finished fourth as a team with 133.5 points.
Chizmar won the 119-pound sectional title and Green earned top honors at 130.
Canfield boasted four district qualifiers. Moving on were Brad Benedict (103), Matt Narducci (135), Pat McCabe (171) and Nick Rousher (275).
The Cardinals were ninth in the team competition with 112.5 points.
The Massillon Perry district begins Friday night and continues Saturday morning. The finals will begin at 7 p.m. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament in Columbus.