Eastwood mauling: Canfield wrestlers dominate Howland


By Dan Hiner

dhiner@vindy.com

NILES

With Canfield wrestler Tyler Stein up 7-6 with less than 10 seconds left, Howland’s Brandon Matlock went for the winning takedown. But Stein avoided Matlock at the last minute and took his opponent down instead.

Stein won the match 9-6 in the most anticipated match in the Mats At The Mall event at Eastwood Mall on Wednesday. The Cardinals won 72-3 and featured 10 pins by the Cardinals in 14 matches.

The event took place at center court of the mall and featured Howland and Canfield’s middle school, junior varsity and varsity teams.

Stein and Matlock were the two of the top three in the 220-pound weight class.

“I knew tonight was going to be tough,” Stein said. “I knew he was a good wrestler, but I just knew the training would pay off. It’s hard not to let the state rankings and all the talk get in my head. I just took a deep breath, relaxed and went out and wrestled.”

Stein said he wanted to wear down Matlock gradually because he know the match was going into a third period.

“At the beginning of the match, I was just trying to shoot off as many shots as possible and just try to wear him down,” Stein said. “I knew in the last minute, if I could get some space in between, then I could wear him down in the last minute.”

Canfield head coach Steve Pitts told Stein in the beginning of the year to be more aggressive because his opponents know he’s talented.

“[Stein was] a state qualifier for us last year, but is one of those guys who could have been on the podium for us last year and has won big matches into the end of last year. This past weekend he’s beaten kids just as good as Matlock. But to win a match like that, you gotta grind and you gotta keep fighting. And that’s what we preached to him the whole week. We said ‘Hey, you gotta go win the tough match. You’re gonna be in a close one. Kids are not gonna quite on you. They know your name now and you gotta fight.’”

Stein said he’s matured as a wrestler over the last year and started to focus on small details that can get him wins.

“I think last year and even freshman year, I was just a little immature,” Stein said. “I didn’t flip the switch. I didn’t have the instinct to go out and hit my moves — just to focus on the score and get the next points. I think this year it feels a lot better confidence-wise.”

Canfield won two other matches. Giovanni Watkins won the 138-pound match 7-5 over Howland’s Alexander Smith in overtime, and the Cardinals won the 145-pound match by forfeit.

Howland’s only win came at 120 pounds when Isaiah Lyles decisioned Chris Mauch, 9-2.

Stein said wrestling in a mall was “weird” because fans weren’t sitting in stands as they would in a gym. The fans were standing feet away from the mat.

Pitts said the Cardinals didn’t know what to expect going into the match because of the setting.

“When you go into gym after gym after gym, year after year, it’s the same,” Pitts said. “This was different. To be honest with you, if we want to make wrestling exciting for fans in the Youngstown area, we gotta do more of this.”

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