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Howland wins EOWL tourney crown

By John Bassetti

Sunday, February 6, 2011

By John Bassetti


Howland came out on top at the conclusion of the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League tournament on Saturday at Salem High School.

The Tigers rolled up 2061/2 points on the strength of one first place, three second-place finishes, two thirds, three fourths and two sixths.

Runner-up Canfield had 179 points and West Branch 1691/2. The Warriors were also the EOWL’s Div. II champion, while fifth-place Pymatuning Valley enjoyed Div. IV honors. Sixth-place Jackson-Milton was the top Div. III school.

Beaver Local was fourth overall with 148 points.

Boardman had three champions with Nick Mancini (103), John Dillon (119) and Nico Graziani (152).

Canfield’s Robby Reed (130) walked away as MVP.

Beaver Local was defending overall champion.

Reed was ahead, 4-2, in the second period, then went up 9-2 in his match with Jackson-Milton’s Johnny Matacic, who narrowed the gap to 10-7 before Reed won, 13-8.

“Matacic is good on his feet and fast, but I knew if I stayed with him [on his feet], I could take him on top and bottom [one person on top of the other],” said Reed, now 33-2. “I’m not that fast, so I just got some good turns on top.”

Dillon became a three-time champion following wins as a freshman in 2009 at 103 and a title in 2010 as a sophomore at 125.

He beat Jackson-Milton’s Vinnie Pizzuto for the 119 crown via a 2-1 decision in overtime.

Dillon (28-1) said that practicing with teammate Graziani helped.

“I practiced on the ride-out all week and it worked because riding did it for me tonight,” Dillon said of the match’s last 30 seconds.

Dillon was up, 2-1, then Pizzuto tied, 1-1, in regulation. After a minute, Dillon started in the down position, then Pizzuto started the next 30 seconds down. Dillon got him on his stomach and won.

Mancini pinned Anthony Spencer of Canfield in 5:27 to become a two-time EOWL tournament champ.

“He caught me with his knee,” Mancini said while on the trainer’s table with ice on a bump near his left temple.

“He’s good on his feet, but I’m always defensive. I used the block-and-throw — the best move in wrestling,” Mancini said. “I caught his arm and figure 4 the head and got the pin.”

West Branch’s Conner Sharp beat pinned Howland’s Cody Reesman in 7:19 of overtime at 285.

“I did what I had to do,” Sharp (15-6) said of his first-time meeting with Reesman. “We both worked hard, but he made a mistake [got his hips too low] and I pulled it off and capitalized,” said Sharp, a sophomore who is also a center on the Warriors’ football team.

Graziani decisioned Hubbard’s Nick Nadeja, 8-6.

“He was trying to tie me up with a Russian and I got two nice shots in the first period,” Graziani said of going up, 4-1.

“He was good on the bottom, so I knew I could get out and I was looking for a reversal and got one,” he said of widening his lead to 6-2.

Then Graziani (27-7) said he let Nadeja up and lost a point.

With the Hubbard wrestler within 6-5, Graziani got the takedown and escaped.

Prior to the finals, four individuals were inducted into the EOWL Hall of Fame: Fitch coach Brett Powell, former Girard athlete Dustin Smith, Bobby Poweski of Warren JFK and official John Butch of Brookfield.