The Ohio High School Athletic Association team tournament makes its debut on Wednesday and earned the right to host the Division III, Region 19-A quarterfinals.
The top-seeded Bison will wrestle No. 8 Wellington 20 minutes after No. 4 Lutheran West and No. 5 Keystone complete their dual, scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.
Beachwood head coach Dugan Bentley is excited to host and participate in the new tournament.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how it’s all going to unfold.”
The idea of competing for a team state championship is new in Ohio and while Bentley is hopeful his team will make a deep run in that tournament, he’s still focused on helping each individual wrestler achieve his goal of competing in the individual state championships in March.
“It’s early in the life of the team state tournament, so I haven’t lost my focus that each individual’s goal is to place at the state tournament,” he said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to help them get to their goals. (The dual tournament) is going to be an awesome thing, but I guess I’m still focusing on getting each individual to be as good as they can be.”
Bentley hasn’t had the opportunity to scout Wellington, but he plans to match-up his best wrestlers to give the Bison the best chance of advancing to the regional semifinals, which will be held on January 30 at a location to be decided later.
“We want to win the dual meet, we have a lot of pride in the team,” he said. “This adds an element of fun to the sport and hopefully the next couple years we should be competitive in it. I’m excited to see how it unfolds.”
Click here for the Region 19 bracket.
FIVE BISON PLACE AT DIES TOURNAMENT
The Bison, ranked 10th in Division III in the latest Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches’ Association state poll, finished ninth at the rugged Bill Dies Memorial Tournament at Akron Firestone High School over the weekend.
Junior Ryan Harris won the 160-pound championship, junior Sam Gross was third at 120, junior Anthony Walden was eighth at 138, senior Alex Angersola was third at 145 and junior Gordon Hong was eighth at 152.
Harris recorded four technical falls then defeated Norwayne’s Kurt Moore, 6-5, in the championship match to improve to 28-0 on the season. Moore was fifth in the Division III state tournament last season.
“He looked good,” Bentley said of Harris. “I don’t think at this point he hasn’t been challenged yet. He’s really separating himself. Barring a complete fluke, I just don’t see how most kids will be able to stop him. Moore is probably one of the top three kids in that weight class and it wasn’t really even close.”
Harris recorded two first period takedowns to lead 4-2 after the first period. He added a second period escape to lead 5-2 with two minutes left to wrestle. Moore started the third in the down position and managed an escape and takedown to tie the match at five. Harris scored the decisive escape to win the match.
“We’ve wrestled (Moore) before,” Bentley said. “He was just satisfied with keeping it a close match. He wrestled a really decisive match and Ryan wrestled a bit slow, not using the motion and pace we traditionally see. (Harris) got the early takedowns and kind of went into a coast mode. Moore was backing up a little bit and got a shot in late. It kind of shocked Ryan, and he gave up the takedown, but we controlled the match throughout.”
Gross scored two pins and a major decision to advance to the 120-pound semifinals, where he lost to Elyria freshman Ben Darmstadt for the second time this season.
Darmstadt won this meeting, 11-7.
“(Darmstadt) is a pretty special wrestler,” Bentley said. “It was a really cool match to watch; a lot of rolls, it was high scoring. It was takedown, reversal, just a lot of constant action. He’s a young kid, does a lot of rolls, a lot of funk wrestling, but he’s good at it.”
Gross rebounded with two major decisions to finish third. He improved his season record to 26-2.
“Sammy’s traditionally a high-scoring, offensive juggernaut and this kid was pretty good at that,” Bentley said. “We need to get him back to being a power wrestler, establish control and go with that. We always talk about chain wrestling and that’s good, but wrestling is all about control. Sometimes he gets lost in that chain wrestling.”
In his first year at Beachwood, Angersola has won 17 matches and continues to improve on the mat.
He went 5-1 in his third place finish at the Dies Tournament.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Bentley said. “We’re finding out some things he does really well and some things he needs to work on. We’re finding out more about him and he’s finding out more about himself. Hopefully, this weekend will catapult him into taking that next step this year.”
Walden and Hong both finished 3-3.
“They both had some middle range matches,” Bentley said. “Overall for Hong, he did some really good things this weekend, grinded out some matches. He found ways to dig down deep and win. He also had some times where he gave up some weird things.
“Walden is extremely strong and has a good heart out there. He’s a high-energy type of wrestler, but he’s got to sometimes remembers it’s not just a physical battle out there. It’s a sport of points. He has to stay in self-control and manipulate his opponent.”