Girard takes Howland Invitational

McCloskey, Morgan, DelGarbino all

win individual titles on historic night

By Steve WILAJ


Girard senior wrestler Chris Morgan is a realist when he looks at this years’ Indians team — and he likes what he sees.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve had the same caliber that we had two years ago,” he said. “But I feel like we have a lot of heart and that’s what makes our team.”

On Saturday, Girard won the 55th Howland Invitational for the first time in program history (it started attending the event in 2009). The Indians placed first out of nine teams with 189 points, while Geneva placed second (146) and Howland finished third (130).

“That’s what we came to do,” Indians coach Jim Cardiero said. “We didn’t come here to take second. I think as a team, we all wrestled well. I think some of the teams lost some to graduation last year, so they were down. But my guys all wrestled well — even lower placement.”

Girard had three first-place finishers — Dakota McCloskey at 120 pounds, Morgan at 138 and Jack DelGarbino at 195 — as well as six second-place finishers: Warren Smith (126), Michael Belcik (152), Jake Roviscanec (170), Moufid Sayej (182), Ben Norman (220) and Ryan Stuart (285).

Morgan, who has just one loss this season, defeated Howland’s Frank Viera for the second time in two years.

“I ended up sticking him last year, but he came back a little bit stronger,” Morgan said. “I was probably a little iffy. I should have been more on the attack.

“But I had to capitalize and basically just punish him for his mistakes. Like I said, I wrestled a little bit defensively because I was a little nervous because I knew he watched me all day and I don’t think he had the same struggles I had during the bracket. So I just kept on the defense, looked at what he had and took the shots when I seen them.”

DelGarbino was another impressive Indians wrestler. Just a freshman, he pinned Howland’s Isom Julian to win his 195-pound match.

“Jack’s been a terror this year,” Morgan said. “He’s been beating everyone like there’s nothing to it. He’s got some talent.”

In a championship match between two state qualifiers a year ago, Brookfield’s Zach Hackett downed Girard’s Norman at 220. It was a defensive match for both wrestlers — and it was also Hackett’s second consecutive first-place finish at the tournament.

“I was just not letting him work to his strengths,” Hackett said. “Just keeping distance and trying to find my shot and get the advantage that way.

“I’ve wrestled state champions before, so I really don’t have anything to be afraid of. Every win gives you more confidence as you go along, but at the end of the day, you just have to go out and wrestle.”

Other local first-place finishers were: Gavin Miglets of Brookfield (113), A.J. Stehura of Austintown Fitch (152) and Bryce Randall of Brookfield (182). Additional second-place finishers were: Hunter Helminiak of Fitch (106) and Geeshawn Matlock (120) and Shawn Carr (145) of Howland.

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