Between Boardman and Fitch, three Division I wrestlers qualified for the state tournament at Saturday’s district tournament at Mentor High School.
The achievements can be attributed to Nick Mancini’s right hand, Camran Rezapourian’s nose and all of Joe Cordova’s upper body (especially his head).
After winning his first district title at 113 pounds, Mancini celebrated his third trip to Columbus with a series of high fives with his dad, Dom.
“I hit him pretty hard when I have the adrenaline flowing,” Nick said. “Yeah, it stings at first.”
An 8-3 decision over Jackson’s Justyn Bostic brought his record to 46-3 on the year, completing a historic weekend where he outscored opponents, 46-7.
“A district title is pretty impressive,” Dom said. “This is always one of the toughest districts in Ohio, probably even in the country.
“The dominance was a surprise. He’s just so determined right now. You couldn’t ask for someone in a greater frame of mind than he is right now.”
Nick added: “My confidence is really high. You can’t doubt yourself. If you doubt yourself that’s how you start to lose. I know I have the ability to take it to anybody in the state.”
Fitch’s Rezapourian wasn’t as sure of himself.
The junior, also a football and baseball player, took a year off from all sports and didn’t expect a wrestling season like this.
“I never thought I’d get here,” Rezapourian said. “I thought I’ be an average wrestler, just mediocre because of all I missed. I would’ve been happy with a fourth of fifth place in the sectional. I really shocked myself.”
He suffered a broken septum last week, and the nosebleed effects still lingered. He wrestled without a facemask this weekend, though he used one last week.
“I kind of poke at it to make sure I’m not bleeding,” he said. “It’s more of a breathing issue. I breathe through my mouth all the time now. It’ll get better.”
Rezapourian completed the tournament with a 6-1 decision over North Canton Hoover’s Joe Howard. He started the competition with a 8-6 over Howard in the first round.
“It was nice to kind of get used to each other at first,” he said.
He is the first Fitch qualifier since 112-pounder Sean Ague in 2010.
“It’s not how you start it’s how you finish,” Falcons coach Brett Powell said. “He ended on a really high note. He got better as the tournament went on and really bounced back.”
As for Cordova, he ended with a 3-1 loss to Justin Halaska of Parma, but beat him, 8-3, in the second round. The Boardman senior picked up a win over Barberton’s Hunter Thornton before finishing in fourth place.
Before he stood on the championship podium, Cordova spent time outside to cool off from a head cold he’s been battling all week.
Coughing and flushed, he said the ailment actually helped him on the mat.
“I got angry that I couldn’t work as hard as I wanted to, so I focused on technique and pushing the pace,” he said. “Plus, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I wanted this so bad. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’ll be happier in the morning, I’m sure.”
All three grapplers are excited for a final week of preparation for the biggest match of their lives.
“I can speak for every coach when I say that these kids work so hard for this moment,” Dom Mancini said. “We’re so fortunate to have guys with the will to win and good things will come next week.”