Three teams dominating D-II

Canfield, West Branch,

Howland lead

By Jim flick


Friday night was the first step toward state titles for 159 wrestlers competing in the Division II sectional tournament at West Branch High School.

“This weekend is ground zero,” said Poland Seminary High coach Tony Stellato. “This is what we work toward all season.”

Poland is one of 12 teams competing in the tournament. Preliminary matches in each of the 14 weight classes began Friday night and will resume at 11 a.m. today. Finals will begin at 5 p.m.

The tournament marks the end of a long season, said Howland coach Bill Beasom. “This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s grueling. Every weekend there’s a match or a tournament, and we want to keep getting better from week to week.”

Heading into today’s final round, Canfield leads with 82 points, followed by West Branch (80) and Howland (76).

In the 106-pound weight class, West Branch’s Alex Schopfer and Poland’s Dante Ginnetti are among four wrestlers still alive in the championship bracket.

Other area wrestlers still alive in the championship bracket are Howland’s Nico Lucarelli and Canfield’s Korey Frost (113 pounds); Howland’s Jimmy Lerakis and WB’s Travis Pidgeon (120); Howland’s Alex Cornicelli and WB’s Donovan Anderson (126); Canfield’s C.J. Frost (132); Canfield’s Shawn Williams, Salem’s Kade Byland and WB’s Braycen Shelton (138); Howland’s Gabe Stark, Canfield’s Bryan Batton, West Branch’s Mason Hughes and Poland’s Anthony Mancini (145); Howland’s David Brian Whisler and WB’s Kenneth Faulkner (152); Salem’s Jesse Slocum, Howland’s Jordan Radich and WB’s Tyler Pidgeon (160); Canfield’s John Poullas and Poland’s Mike Audi (170); Canfield’s Stan Socha and Howland’s Josh Grodesky (182); Howland’s Andrew Rolfe, Poland’s Abe Kassem, Canfield’s Hayden Smith and Hubbard’s Tyler Whitacre (195); WB’s Logan Sharp and Canfield’s Jacob Esarco (220); WB’s Connor Sharp, Howland’s Mike Bell and Canfield’s Curtis Burns (285).

West Branch coach Jason Brown agreed that motivating the wrestlers for the sectional tournament isn’t a problem, and that mental preparation is important. “A lot of it comes down to desire. How much do you want it? If you really want it, you’re going to have success here.

Brown said his wrestlers planned and worked hard for a strong season. “Our team has done a good job in the off-season. They put in the time.”

Last summer, the West Branch wrestlers traveled to Disney World to compete in a tournament in preparation for their regular season matches. “They had success down there, they competed in a ton of events. So our guys are ready. Coach Don Newell of Hubbard said he used some unusual techniques to prepare his wrestlers for the sectional tournament. “I think a lot of people get tired at this time of year, so you got to do different ways to let them have fun.”

For instance, last Friday he took them took swimming in Hubbard pool.

“We just let them have fun. We have a young team,” Newell said. “It’s going to take them a while to get use to competing through a whole season.”

Coach Dean Connelly of Canfield said he had no problem motivating his wrestlers after they’d fought through the long season, and seemed confident.

“The kids are ready,” he said. “If you need to get motivated for this tournament.”

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