Powell quickly disposes of 3 rivals
The Boardman senior spent only 1:39 on the mat in the Alliance Top Gun Tournament
By ERIC HAMILTON
ALLIANCE -- Boardman High's Justin Powell approaches every wrestling tournament he competes in differently. For him, just winning isn't always enough; it's how he wins that means the most to him.
Heading into the Alliance Top Gun Tournament on Friday, Powell looked to have a cakewalk through his 215-pound bracket.
Only two other wrestlers are former state qualifiers and Powell was the top seed after finishing third in the Division I state tournament in 2006.
Without much competition, Powell challenged himself by making his goal to win the tournament and pin every opponent along the way.
So far, so good.
In his three matches on Friday, the senior spent a total of 1 minute, 39 seconds on the mat.
His first two matches lasted a total of 37 seconds.
In the opening round, he pinned Salem's Will Beagle in 22 seconds. The next match was over even faster as Powell scored a pin-fall in 15 seconds.
Powell will face Odo
Powell advanced to today's semifinals by pinning West Jefferson's Tyler Fabry in 1:02 in the quarterfinals. He will face 2006 state tournament alternate Ryan Odo, of CVCA, in the semifinals.
If he wins that match, it could set up a rematch of the 2006 Top Gun finals when Powell beat Derek McCluggage of West Holmes.
"I just want to pin each kid as fast as I can," said Powell, who has already finished third in the highly-touted Ironman and Beast of the East (Del.) tournaments this season. "In a tourney like this I just try to challenge myself in little ways to work hard.
"At Kenston I wanted to pin my way through, but I tech falled a kid and that was like a little loss to me.
"We have one of the toughest schedules around with these hard tournaments and the Federal League," Powell said. "I couldn't ask for any more of a challenge. And our team is doing well, which no one expected. Hopefully, I'll have a few friends coming to state with me this year."
Powell was just part of Boardman's success on Day 1 of Top Gun. The Spartans will send nine wrestlers to the second day of competition. Seven of those will be forced to battle through the consolation bracket.
Creatore also carded
Joining Powell in the semifinals is Bobby Creatore of Boardman, who will face top-seed Coby Boyd from St. Paris Graham in the 145-pound bracket. Boyd finished third in the 2006 Division II state tournament.
Fitch, led by two-time defending state and Top Gun champion Tony Jameson, advanced an area-high 10 wrestlers to Saturday's competition.
Jameson earned a spot in the 135-pound semifinals, which will feature four wrestlers that placed at least fourth in the 2006 state tournament.
Should Jameson (first in Division I) beat Mansfield Madison's Josh Speelman (fourth in Division I), he could set up a match against defending Division II state champ Ben Jordan, of St. Paris Graham.
Both Jameson (12th) and Jordan (6th) are ranked nationally.
J.J. Pankewicz also advanced to the semis for the Falcons and will battle Ravenna's Phil Dukes in a match between returning state qualifiers.
Alliance will have five wrestlers coming back, including Manuel Cintron at 145 pounds and Matt Walker at heavyweight in the semifinals.
Brookfield, one of just a few Division III schools in the tournament, advanced three wrestlers.
Tristan Thompson, who was second in the state last year, moved on to the 125-pound semifinals in what is hands-down the toughest weight class of the tournament. The field includes nine returning state placers and all four semifinalists placed at state last year.
In the team standings, Fitch leads the Valley contingent after one day. The Falcons are third on the leader board with 89.5 points. St. Paris Graham leads the pack with 136.5 points and Ravenna is second with 92.
Boardman is seventh with 75 points, just 10 points behind fifth-place Claymont. Alliance (53.5) is tied for 14th and Brookfield (50) is tied for 18th.
Action begins today at 10 a.m. with consolation rounds and the semifinals. The championship finals will begin at 5 p.m.