A SECTIONAL STRUGGLE
Boardman, Fitch wrestlers start slow
Austintown Fitch head wrestling coach Brett Powell already knew the results and was hesitant to see them in writing.
When he was handed a sheet of the team scores after the first day of the Division I wrestling sectional tournament, Powell took a quick glance, folded his arms and looked away.
“Oh, man,” was all he could say.
The Falcons, who hosted the tournament, are in 10th place out of 11 teams with 23 points. Only Kent Roosevelt with 20 points is worse. Boardman sits just one spot ahead of Fitch with 23.5 team points.
“It wasn’t Fitch’s day, that’s for sure,” Powell said. “We just picked a bad day to have a bad day.”
Only Lennie McGeachy at 285 pounds has a chance to compete for an outright title at his respective weight class. He defeated Stow’s Zach Millush by a fall. His next opponent is Sampson Demand of Cuyahoga Falls.
Nine Fitch grapplers will still have the chance to compete today. They are Rick Ague (106 pounds), Desmond Gray (120), Zack Goist (126), Zach Mackall (132), Kyle Rocco (138), Mike Hafely (152), Donny Ferree (182), Jake Franks (195) and Ron Shadd (220).
“A lot of good teams are coming here, a lot of high-end competition. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” Powell said. “We had some guys that showed up and wrestled as hard as they could wrestle. Some of our guys just didn’t show up and didn’t wrestle very well. We got in a lot of jams.”
Boardman didn’t fare so well, either.
As expected, No. 1 seeds Nick Mancini (106) and Nico Graziani (160) are alive and in the hunt. Mancini defeated Stow’s Adam Hunt by a fall in just 59 seconds. He faces Daniel Clement of first-place Solon. Graziani upended Kenston’s Nolan Kondik by a 18-3 fall and moves on to face Justin Kresevic of Solon.
“Nico is just one of the meanest wrestlers you will ever come across,” said Boardman head coach Dom Mancini. “When you go up against him, you truly are defending yourself because when he gets on the mat — he wants to hurt you.”
Joining that top pair in the championship bracket is Alex Rich. He beat Stow’s Dylan Hartwig by an 8-6 decision and will square off against Nathan Gregory of Hudson.
Fellow Spartans Kyle Kondas and Joe Cordova at 145 and 170 pounds, respectively, are slated in the consolation bracket.
Both local teams are hoping a new day brings a renewed spirit to the mat. Action will get under way at 10 a.m. with the championship bouts taking place at 3:30 p.m.
There are opportunities out there for every wrestler to pick up some sought-after team points.
“We’ll have to see how everything pans out,” Powell said. “We’re going to be moving on from here and see who survives the consolation rounds.”
But it’s going to be a battle.
“It’s kind of like being stuck in quicksand,” Powell said. “You have to relax yourself and get focused. You swim out of it gradually. When you start going under, you have to struggle to fight even harder. So, that’s what we don’t want to do. We need to get up early.
“It’s a sink or swim for us.”