By Jim Flick
Pins in the last two championship matches of the night secured a Division II sectional wrestling title for West Branch on Saturday night.
West Branch wrestlers won three individual titles while three more wrestlers finished second in their weight classes as the team that hosted the tournament compiled 199 points to win the championship.
Crestwood was the runner-up with 190 points, while Canfield scored 180.5 points and captured one individual title to finish third.
Howland scored 179 points and won two individual titles.
The top four wrestlers in each of 14 weight classes now move on to the district tournament, which will be held at Alliance High School next weekend.
When the final rounds started Saturday night, West Branch held a slight lead over Crestwood. Crestwood closed the gap, winning four individual titles and one runner-up trophy.
Tyler Pidgeon of West Branch won the title in the 160-pound weight class to help his school maintain its lead over Crestview. The match went to overtime as Pidgeon defeated Tony Rupert of Marlington 7-5.
“You got to be in good shape to win in overtime,” Pidgeon said.
The battle for the team title was still in question when Logan Sharp of West Branch stepped to the mat for his title match with Santana Barrera of Southeast in the 220-pound weight class. Sharp pinned Barrera, but one more match remained.
“I just worked harder than my opponent,” Logan Sharp said.
In the final championship match of the night Connor Sharp of West Branch, Logan Sharp’s older brother, pinned Curtis Burns of Canfield to secure the sectional title.
Connor Sharp said he bear-hugged Burns to put him in position for the pin.
“I just wanted to win on our home turf, and I wanted to win the tournament,” Connor Sharp said.
Earning runner-up titles for West Branch were Travis Pidgeon (120), Donovan Anderson (126), and Braycen Shelton (138).
Alex Cornicelli of Howland won the individual title in the 126-pound division, while teammate Gabe Stark won at 145.
“I knew I had to give it my A-game,” Cornicelli said. “I’m excited to keep training and beat some good kids down in Alliance.”
Finishing in second place for Howland were David Brian Whisler (152), and Andrew Rolfe (195).
Five Canfield wrestlers were runners-up in their weight classes: Korey Frost (113), John Poullas (170), Stan Socha (182), Hayden Smith (195) and Burns (285).
Anthony Mason of Poland was runner-up at 145.
The sectional title “is important for the guys,” West Branch coach Jason Brown said. “They worked hard, they did everything we asked them to do. We knew they would be in a position to win a title here.”
Brown added he and his coaches “pushed them as hard as we could possibly could. There aren’t any easy practices for those boys. We’re in their faces, getting after it every day.”
The community supports the West Branch wrestlers, he added.
“It’s absolutely strong,” Brown said. “It’s spectacular.”
Poland finished seventh on Saturday with 102 points, Salem was 11th with 39.5 points and Hubbard was 12th with 28 points.