By Greg Gulas
The area was well-represented at the recent AAU Junior Olympics with three local wrestlers earning freestyle medals and a fourth helping Team Ohio Blue to fifth at the 19-team event.
Overall, Team Ohio was represented by four teams with a roster of grapplers from across the state, including four entries from the local Green Machine Wrestling Club.
The club is directed by Dom Mancini, a former mat standout at YSU and the wrestling coach at Boardman High who served as one of 12 coaches for Team Ohio.
The club is named after Jon Green, a former Boardman High School wrestler who was a Greco-Roman state champion in 2004 and died in a motor vehichle accident in 2010. The club is for athletes not competing in a spring sport and is open to all area athletes. It is governed by both AAU and USA Wrestling.
“We currently have 35 members but our goal is to expand and hopefully attract in excess of 50 students who are dedicated to the game and willing to work on honing their wrestling skills,” Mancini added.
The four area wrestlers competing in Houston were Joe Cordova, Nick Mancini and Scott Glenn of Boardman, and Gabe Stark of Howland.
Cordova, who was 29-13 overall and 1-2 in the district tourney as a junior last season, went 13-1 in the tournament and earned a gold medal in the 182-pound weight class.
“The Green Machine Wrestling Club offers a lot of practice time and competitions to improve in the off-season and I have taken advantage of it,” he said. “Assistant coach [Jack] Raver also trains with me regularly and has helped me to improve my speed, strength and conditioning.”
Mancini went 36-9 as a junior, finished as district runner-up and is a two-time state qualifier. He finished 10-3 in the tournament en route to a silver medal at 120 pounds.
“Early on, Boardman assistant coach Bob Foster told me don’t make them better than they are, referring to your opponents and I have lived by that saying,” Mancini said. “I don’t care who I am wrestling; I know that I have a shot at winning.”
Stark went 40-8 for Howland, finished runner-up in the district and placed fifth in the Division II state tournament a year ago.
He went 10-5 in the tourney and earned a bronze medal at 160 pounds.
“My involvement with the Green Machine Wrestling Club improved my wrestling skills and opened up my offensive attacks during my high school season,” Stark said.
Glenn, who wrestled at 195 pounds, finished 6-8 in 14 tourney matches.
Cordova, Mancini and Stark also competed in the AAU Scholastic Dual Meet Championships in Orlando, Fla., where all three went 10-1, earned silver medals and were awarded All-America laurels.
For their efforts at the AAU Jr. Olympic Games, Cordova and Mancini earned All-American honors.
“In describing the difference between the three wrestlers, I would say that if I needed help in an alley fight I would want Gabe [Stark] because he is tougher than nails,” Mancini said.
“If I was outnumbered, I would want Joe [Cordova] because he’ll fight until death while if I wanted to win a war, I would take Nick [Mancini] because he is a mastermind of strategy,” he added.
“In my 24 years of coaching, I have found that those who enjoy Greco and freestyle success also enjoy folk style success,” Mancini stated.