By Pete Chiodo
A year ago, General McLane only sent one champion to the top of the podium at the Tool City Wrestling Tournament. Yet the Lancers still had enough points to win its first-ever team title at the event.
This season, the Lancers upped it’s number of champions to three — giving them the most individual champions of any of the 19 teams in the tournament.
Yet as the tournament wrapped up Saturday at Meadville High School, a repeat as team champs would not be in the offing for the Lancers. McLane finished third in the team standings behind champion Boiling Springs and runner-up Fort LeBoeuf.
“That’s kind of how we saw it shaping up to be,” said McLane head coach Ryan Cook. “We’re more of a top-heavy team this year. We’ve got some outstanding individuals. ... We had three champs, but we felt that we left a lot of points out on the mat.”
Winning titles for McLane was senior Joe Wheeling at 113, who bested McDowell’s Charlie Lenox 2-1 in the final.
At 152, senior Mike Sutton defended his title from last year, scoring a 6-2 decision over Howland, Ohio’s Jordan Radich.
And at 138, junior Keller Watkins rode out the third period on top of Saegertown’s Nick Monico to pull out a 1-0 victory in the title bout.
“The goal was to win that team title and we didn’t do it,” said Cook. “But it’s a tough tournament. And we had three champions, and I believe that’s the most that McLane has ever had here — three in one year.”
Reynolds repeats for Panthers
The Saegertown wrestling team managed to up its team finish from seventh last year to fifth this year, finishing the event with 149 points. The Panthers finished higher than McDowell and DuBois, which were both ahead of Saegertown in last year’s team standings.
The Panthers were led by junior 182-pounder Dylan Reynolds, who defended his tournament title with a 7-4 verdict over Greenville senior Justin Reynolds.
“Dylan stepped up,” said Panthers head coach Jim Mulligan. “I thought he was really dominant.”
All four of Justin Reynolds’ points were from escapes. Dylan Reynolds, meanwhile, had three takedowns and one escape for the win.
“My shots were all right,” said the Panthers junior. “Some of them needed finishing a little better, though.”
Saegertown also got a pair of runner-up finishes.
Tyler Vath finished second in a tough 132-pound bracket. He picked up a big win in the championship semifinals, beating defending tournament champ D.J. Fehlman of Warren 3-1. However, Vath then fell to Boiling Springs’ Kyle Shoop 5-0 in the title bout.
And at 138, Nick Monico couldn’t escape the clutches of General McLane’s Keller Watkins, who held on tight for a 1-0 victory over the Panthers’ sophomore.
Also placing for Saegertown was Bingbong Elizon, who was fifth at 120 after a 6-4 victory over Titusville’s Hunter Wagner in the consolation final; and 170-pounder Dan Simmerman, who finished sixth after dropping the fifth-place match by fall to McDowell’s Coleman Cousins.
Lee fires up Rockets
Saturday’s final round began at 160. And what a place to start, as Titusville senior Ehrin Lee and Howland, Ohio’s David-Brian Whisler faced off in a narrow battle.
Lee scored first, getting an escape point in the second period. But Whisler — a fourth-place medalist at the OHSAA Division II championships last season — tied it up with an escape in the third.
Both wrestlers got free from the bottom in their respective rideout periods, making it 2-2 going into the ultimate rideout.
Lee’s initial attempt to escape ended with him being pushed out of bounds with 17 seconds left. And his second attempt didn’t even get off the ground. However, Lee got a hold of Whisler’s ankle, and pulled himself out of the Howland junior’s grip just as the final buzzer sounded.
The exciting win earned Lee his second straight Tool City title and it has the Rocket senior off to a 16-0 start to the year.
Bulldogs led by trio
Meadville had three wrestlers win places at their home tournament.
At 113, Aaron Ehrgott finished third. He lost his lone bout of the tournament 5-3 to Charlie Lenox in the championship semifinals. But he bounced back with a 4-1 decision over Clearfield’s Logan Gilbert in the consolation semis, and a 5-1 victory over Greenville’s Jase Paxton in the third-place match.
At 170, Louis Crawford finished in fourth. He was bounced to the consolation bracket after getting pinned in the third period by eventual champion Dakota Geer of Franklin. He then defeated Saegertown’s Dan Simmerman 10-0 in the consolation semis. He later fell to Boiling Spring’s Connor Murphy 9-4 in the third-place match.
And at 220, Luke Carr also finished fourth. He won three straight consolation bouts before falling to Conneaut’s Connor Overman 4-3 in the third-place match.
Conneaut has three place
The Conneaut Eagles had three wrestlers win places.
At 132, Kyle Lukowich responded after his 5-0 loss to eventual champion Kyle Shoop of Boiling Springs by pinning McDowell’s Noah Burkhardt in the consolation semifinals. However, Lukowich was dropped 4-1 in the third-place match to Warren’s D.J. Fehlman.
At 152, Taylor Ellis also finished fourth for Conneaut. He lost to eventual champion Mike Sutton of General McLane 8-3 in the winner’s bracket. He responded with a pin in 2:50 over McGuffey’s Tyler Harris. However, he fell in the third-place match to Fort LeBoeuf’s Brad Malinowski, 3-2.
Conneaut’s best finish of the day belonged to 220-pounder Connor Overman. The first-year wrestler was leading eventual champion Kyle Taylor of Boiling Springs in the semifinal round when Taylor caught Overman for a pin in 3:55.
In the wrestlebacks, however, Overman won two straight, beating McDowell’s Benji Bish 4-2 and Meadville’s Luke Carr 4-3 in the third-place match.
Boozer takes fifth
Cochranton’s lone place-winner was senior 152-pounder Robert Boozer.
Boozer started Saturday with back-to-back losses to Howland’s Jordan Radich (8-6) and Fort LeBoeuf’s Brad Malinowski (2-1).
However, he ended the day on a high note, pinning McGuffey’s Tyler Harris in 3:33 in the fifth-place final.
Awards and honors
For this year’s tournament honorarium, the Meadville wrestling program was recognized in celebration of it’s 50th anniversary.
The Class AA Outstanding Wrestler went to Boiling Springs’ junior Kyle Shoop, who won the 132-pound bracket.
The Class AAA OW was Cathedral Prep’s Jake Gromacki, who posted the win of the night when he beat two-time defending tournament champion Korbin Myers of Boiling Springs 4-2 in overtime during the 120-pound final. Gromacki also recorded the most takedowns of the tournament with 16.
The fastest fall of the tournament went to Titusville’s 113-pounder Kaleb Chase, who scored a 17-second pin over DuBois’ Steve Jacobson.
The most pins in the least amount of time were recorded by Boiling Springs’ heavyweight Noah Davis, who had four falls in 4:45.