37 ranked wrestlers in Hephner tourney
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- Thirty seven state-ranked athletes representing 25 schools will compete in the Josh Hephner Memorial wresting tournament today and Saturday at Fitch High School's gymnasium.
Another interesting thing about the Hephner is a matchup between mentor (coach Brett Powell of Fitch) and pupil (coach Dennis Fletcher of Ravenna).
Powell says Ravenna is the team to beat. In two previous tournaments this season, the Ravens have finished ahead of the Falcons.
Fletcher wrestled for Fitch during the 1985-89 seasons. He was a team captain and two-time state qualifier for the Falcons.
"Fletcher is a good coach, a good man and has been recognized by the state for his leadership and sportsmanship," Powell said.
Athletes in each of the 14 classes will wrestle in pools Friday in a round robin format starting at 4 p.m. Each is guaranteed at least three matches.
The top performers advance into an eight-man bracket and will then wrestle to eight places.
Saturday's matches are scheduled for 9 a.m. with consolations and championships set to start at 6 p.m.
Jameson is top-rated
Fitch High's Tony Jameson, a two-time Hephner defending champ, Shaker Heights' Marcel Clopton and Massillon Jackson's Adam Haas are Division I wrestlers that will be competing in the 135-pound class and they are rated first, third and sixth respectively in the state. Ben Dierkes of Jackson-Milton, ranked ninth in Div. III will also compete in this weight class.
Jameson, a junior, is closing in on his 100th career victory and Powell thinks he'll have a good chance at getting that during the Hephner tournament.
The Falcons' Brian Weidenthal, 152 pounds, J.J. Pankewicz 160, and Matt Kuti, 189 are ranked sixth, seventh and eighth respectively in the state and coach Powell expects they'll be a big factor as Fitch tries for its fourth straight Hephner title.
Ravenna is ranked fourth in the state in Div. II and Fitch is ranked eighth in Div. I.
Brookfield's Ross Tice, a 2006 Div. III state champ who is ranked third in the state, and Ravenna's Phil Dukes, ranked fifth in Div. II, are in a strong field of wrestlers in the 160 class.
Other local schools entered are Beaver Local, Girard, Liberty, Poland and Warren JFK.
Tickets are 6 per session for adults and 3 per session for students.