Fitch takes second at Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament
Sutton, Ferree and Douglas earn top honors
By ERIC FORTUNE
Coming into the 25th Josh Hephner Memorial wrestling tournament, it seemed that first and second would come down to host Austintown Fitch and Louisville.
The teams already had met three previous times this season with Fitch coming off a 31-30 victory at Louisville in December, Louisville placed higher at Medina Invitational Tournament and the Falcons placing second to the Leopards’ fourth-place finish at Alliance’s Top Gun Tournament.
Saturday, the Leopards squeaked by the Falcons 300.5 to 290.5.
Fitch coach John Burd liked his team’s chances of winning the tournament, but felt the Leopards holding a 10-8 advantage in qualifying wrestlers would most likely determine the outcome.
“That was our goal coming in,” Burd said. “We had a very good opportunity. We had eight places. We were hoping for more. In an event like this, you have to have 14 guys with everyone scoring points.
“The more points you get, the better it is obviously. Louisville had 10 and we had eight places. They had one extra guy in the finals and that was the difference.”
Both schools had three overall champions with Gus Sutton’s pin of Logan Martin of Southeast keeping him undefeated this season at 29-0.
“He won Top Gun last week,” Burd said. “He’s getting better and better each week.”
Equally impressive was Michael Ferree in the 160-pound weight class. His record improved to 33-2 with a majority decision over Lake’s Sean-Michael James.
Ferree’s high pace and intensity were a bit too much for James as he got James out of position in each period building out a comfortable 7-1 advantage after two.
“He’s got his offense going,” Burd said. “He had a couple low singles, couple high crotches, a couple go behinds. He wrestled very hard and very intense.”
“There was no game plan,” Feree said. “It was just wrestle and have fun. It’s a home tournament. It’s a big deal. It’s a big crowd. I just went out there and let loose hoping that it would open a bit in the third period. I started off on my offense — heavy hands, high crotch, and got whatever I could.
“I just went out there and wrestled. Yesterday, I started out a little sluggish, but today I got out of my funk and opened up today. I opened up my last match yesterday. I’m just beat up from the grind of the last couple of weeks. It kind of showed this weekend, but I got the job done.”
In the 195-pound weight class, Breylon Douglas pinned Copley’s Adam Allen in the second period. He improved his record to 32-3.
Douglas seemed to be a step ahead of Allen all match. Douglas had already met Allen before this season had pinned him in that earlier matchup. Overall, it was a good tournament for Douglas with seven pins over the two days.
“I wrestled this kid earlier in the year at MIT in the consolation rounds,” Douglas said. “I pinned him then. So, I went in knowing I could probably pin him again, but I didn’t want to get too overconfident and end up getting caught. I’ve seen that happen to guys before, they lose to someone they are better than.
“I just felt he was a really strong kid. Probably one of the stronger ones I’ve ever wrestled. I was just being very cautious and took whatever was there. I didn’t force anything and listened to my coaches.”
The only other area champion was Girard heavyweight Jack DelGarbino.