Cardinals flatten foes at Canfield Duals
By Brian Dzenis
As Canfield’s upperweights go, so does the Cardinals’ wrestling program. On Saturday, they led the Cardinals to a good place.
In the team’s home opener, they had six wrestlers go undefeated to help the team go 4-0 at the Canfield Duals.
Starting with Ben Cutrer at 170, David Crawford (182), Nick Crawford (195), Tyler Stein (220) and Dan Kapalko (285) all bested the competition. David Reinhart (152) also picked up four victories in as many matches.
“It was better than I expected coming off a 13-week playoff run. It just speaks to not just how competitive our kids are, but our whole school and community,” said coach Stephen Pitts, referencing the football team’s run in the fall.
“We want to fight for conference titles and state titles. We want to beat our rivals. Our kids are hungry for this kind of stuff and they love it.”
The competition at Canfield was no slouch. Reigning Pennsylvania state duals champion Reynolds came down Route 224, as did Aurora with its five state-ranked wrestlers and Division I sides Kenston and Dover.
“It was awesome. Those were great team wins against four really good teams, especially Reynolds,” David Crawford said. “They were really, really tough.”
The Cardinals edged the Raiders, 34-33, in the their final match of the day and both sides were 3-0 coming in. Canfield’s other three victories came by at least 20 points.
Reinhart provided the momentum swing. Canfield was down 12-0 after dropping the first three bouts when Reinhart was set to face Reynolds’ Hunter Michaels. The home wrestler struggled out of the gate, falling behind 5-0 in the first period, but turned his bout and the match around by pinning Michaels with 19 seconds left in the second.
“The beginning of my match was pretty rough. I knew the team really wanted to win it, so I knew I had to do something big,” Reinhart said. “I caught him a little high and I caught my pin to get the team rolling. Everybody’s energy level got so high.”
Then came the unstoppable run of Canfield’s upperweights.
Seth Hull pinned the Raiders’ Hunter Thompson. Cutrer, who was spelling an injured Anthony D’Alesio — the No. 2 wrestler in the state in Division II — took a 9-3 win against Cole Toy. Reynolds decided it wanted no part of No. 1-ranked David Crawford and took a forfeit, denying him the chance to get four pins in four matches. David’s younger brother, Nick, pinned Evan Miller. Stein picked up a 5-2 win against Jared Miller and Kopalko got an 11-1 win against Wyatt Owen.
It was an excellent debut for a few wrestlers just cracking the lineup. Reinhart is a junior who had to drop weight to find a slot where he could compete.
“Just being on the team is a big thing in general,” Reinhart said.
Then there’s Kopalko, a senior heavyweight who found his way back into the sport.
“Dan wrestled for us for years — since he was a little kid. He took a year off and he said he missed it,” Pitts said. “Now he comes out here and goes undefeated.”
The Cardinals have another stiff challenge in team play. On Wednesday, Canfield will travel to East Liverpool to face Eastern Ohio Wrestling League power Beaver Local. The Beavers have five state-ranked wrestlers, including No. 1-ranked Skyler Lasure (132) and reigning state runner-up Cole McComas (113). The two schools often get mentioned when discussing the best wrestling teams in the Mahoning Valley.
“That’s what it seems like when when people are talking [about us and Beaver Local],” David Crawford said. “Our league is really tough this year and I’m looking forward to our match on Wednesday.”