By Joe Catullo
Seconds trickled down in the 182-pound matchup between Canfield High’s Stan Socha and Poland’s Mike Audi on Wednesday night.
“We’ve been looking forward to [this matchup] for a long time,” Socha said.
Audi, a state qualifier last year, rolled Socha over with less than 10 seconds remaining. All Audi needed was Socha’s right shoulder to hit the mat. The immense crowd cheered Socha to hang on for five more seconds.
“I knew time was coming down,” Socha said. “I knew I couldn’t go over. We had the fan base. I knew I wasn’t going over for sure.”
The right shoulder never went down. Socha laid on the mat afterwards with both hands on his head, knowing he defeated a great opponent. Socha, a state alternate from a year ago, conquered Audi, 7-4. He was so excited when he stood up that he almost forget to let the official raise his hand.
“We had some wars with him last year,” Canfield coach Dean Conley said. “It was a real big matchup for Stan. He’s one of our captains, so those are the matches that you want. We wanted that match because we want the big matchups for our kids.
“Those were probably the two best kids competing tonight. Mike Audi is just an absolutely great kid and a competitor.”
The victory gave the Cardinals their momentum back after the Bulldogs lost seven consecutive matches. Canfield won, 54-24, in “The Battle of 224.”
“You can’t take any breaks against Mike Audi,” Conley said. “We maybe took a little bit of a rest, and Mike pushed us and maybe caught us a little bit. You root for him all year long unless he wrestles us.”
The Cardinals (5-0, 2-0) began Wednesday night strong with Korey Frost’s 120-pound victory. He pinned Darren Goodin in just more than two minutes.
Two matches later, Canfield won in its only non-pin victory during the seven straight wins. Stephen Daprile and Anthony Murko battled every second with nobody gaining full advantage over the other. Daprile was able to earn two more points and won, 24-22, in the 132-pound contest.
“I’m so proud with how the seniors have done,” Conley said. “We were hoping that we would start at the right place, and I think we did. The same thing happened against Austintown.”
Canfield won six straight after Frost with five pins. Anthony Audi earned a pin that gave Poland (6-3, 3-1) some energy back before Socha’s victory. Overall, the Bulldogs won just four times (one by forfeit).
“Tonight was disappointing,” Poland coach Tony Stellato said. “In short, you can lose a match, but there’s a specific way to lose. Today, we didn’t show up to wrestle. We have to find our heart by Saturday when we compete again. They’ve got to do some soul searching.”
Alliance, Poland and West Branch will compete in a quadrangular at Hubbard. The tournament begins at 10 a.m.
Canfield will host its Holiday Duals the same day starting at 9:30 a.m. Southeast, Richfield Revere, Richmond, Rootstown and perennial state wrestling powerhouse St. Paris Graham will join the Cardinals in a six-team, dual-meet format.