Area wrestlers survive D-II districts

By Brian Dzenis


Sometimes advancing in a wrestling tournament doesn’t involve getting that 15-second pin or technical fall, it’s doing just enough to stay alive.

Howland’s Isom Julian trailed in his first-round match up with Akron Saint Vincent-Saint Mary’s Zack Crissman until the final two seconds on Friday, when the senior 195-pounder pulled off the deciding reversal to win the match, 6-5. Crissman was a No. 1 seed.

“We were on our feet and I threw him, just to get the two,” Julian said. “I was thinking ‘I haven’t wrestled a good match the whole time.’ and I think it was just because it was the first match of the day.

“I thought ‘We’ll, I’m going to give this everything I’ve got.’”

Julian followed up the victory with a 9-5 decision against Akron Springfield’s Caleb Eppley to put himself in the championship semifinals for the first time in his career. He entered Alliance as a No. 4 seed and while Crissman and Eppley (a No. 3 seed) were ranked higher, Howland coach Matthew Zakraisjek wouldn’t call either victory an upset.

“He’s getting the W’s, but he’s not wrestling as clean as he can,” Zakraisjek said. “We haven’t seen his best matches.”

Julian’s opening-round victory interrupted an opening night where chalk walked.

Amongst Mahoning County powerhouses Canfield and West Branch, everybody that was expected to advance to Saturday’s semifinals did so. Top-ranked Cardinal duo Georgio Poullas (160) and David Crawford (170) breezed through their respective opponents. The Warriors’ No. 1-ranked heavyweight, Ian Sharp, pinned both his opponents. Every section champion from both schools — eight when combining both schools — is a semifinalist.

“As a team, we did really well. I wasn’t unhappy with anyone’s performance and these guys will tell you that doesn’t really happen,” Canfield coach Dean Conley said. “We did as well as we could. We wrestled well and I’m proud of everyone.”

As decorated as the previously-mentioned schools are, the three Trumbull County schools (Girard, Howland and Hubbard) have lost just one wrestler to elimination.

In addition to Julian, heavyweight Brandon Matlock is also a semifinalist and Julian’s younger brother Chris (220) remains alive in the consolation bracket.

All seven of Girard’s wrestlers are still alive. Alex DelGarbino (113), Jack DelGarbino (220) and Dakota McCloskey (120) are all champion semifinalists. Jack has now amassed 45 victories for the season, a long leap for someone who did not advance out of sectionals last year.

“As a freshman, he was in a tough weight class and there were some confidence issues and maturity issues,” Girard coach Jim Cardiero said. “He was good enough to be here, but he’s made some mistakes in sectionals. He hasn’t made those here.”

Even some of Girard’s consolation wrestlers, Jamil Bannister (152) and Zack Hazlett (170) offered some of the more exciting opening matches. Bannister edged Streetsboro’s Mike Carey, 3-2, with the Indians sophomore getting the deciding points in the third period, losing his headgear in the process. Hazlett beat Norton’s Niko Primovero, 2-1, in overtime. Hazlett picked up an escape and then didn’t allow one from Primovero as time ran out.

Hubbard got both of its wrestlers to today’s slate of matches, albeit in the consolation bracket. Jordan Najdusak (106) got a 7-3 decision against Canal Fulton Northwest’s Jacobi Smith in round one, but lost by technical fall to SVSM’s Jacob Decatur. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Matthew Cordello pinned Andrew Christy (113) in round one, but Christy rallied with a major decision against Harvey’s David Boykin.

Salem will not be sending anyone to Columbus as the Quaker’s lone competitor, freshman Jacob Frost (106), went two and out.

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