With another intense season coming to a close, the varsity wrestlers prepare for the journey to the state tournament.
All wrestlers are familiar with this part of the season, which is when the “grind” is in full swing.
The Bulldog wrestlers are 5-1 in dual meet matches, having their only loss handed to them by Brunswick. They have defeated Austintown Fitch, North Royalton, Cuyahoga Falls and Medina and outscored their opponents 267-146 in total team points.
In the Aurora Invitational, the wrestlers took second place overall.
At the Tuslaw Duals, the Bulldogs took second overall with three wrestlers who went undefeated on the weekend: senior Nick Planicka, junior Kyle Jenkins and sophomore Jared Tatgenhorst. Kiyal Izaldine was 8-1 at the tournament.
When the wrestlers traveled to Firestone for the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament, they finished 19 out of 44 teams. Three Bulldog wrestlers placed at this prestigious tournament: senior Nick Planicka took fifth, sophomore Joey Andrassy finished sixth and senior Anthony Valore won eighth.
At the wrestlers latest tournament, the NOC Tournament, they placed seventh out of the 18 teams competing. Five wrestlers placed top eight in the conference: Kyle Jenkins third, senior Justin George third, Joey Andrassy third, senior Ian Finegan sixth and Anthony Valore sixth.
“We did some good wrestling as a team and as individuals,” sophomore Joey Andrassy said, “but the season is not over. We have to do our best wrestling next weekend at sectionals to move onto districts and then states. It was a fun season but it will be better if we finish well.”
Senior Nick Planicka is finishing up his fourth year wrestling for the Bulldogs.
“I really enjoyed this season,” Planicka said. “It was really great being a senior and a leader on the team. It is a shame that I am not going to be able to wrestle with my teammates next year. On the bright side, the season is not over: we still have sectionals to work for. I believe that every member of this varsity line up can make it deep into the post-season tournaments.”
The Brunswick Blue Devils visited the James G. Tyree Gym to face off against the Stow Bulldogs in an exhibition wrestling match. The dual meet took place on January 22. The Bulldogs were looking to bounce back after only taking 15th overall at the Bill Dies Tournament last weekend.
The match began in the lightweights and a 106-pound intense duel between Logan Reiheld of Stow and Joe Cacuzza of Brunswick started the meet off. Reiheld emerged victorious in an 8-6 decision, making the team score 3-0 in favor of Stow.
The following match was at 113 pounds, John Koneval versus DJ Skiba. Skiba was able to take the win in comfortable fashion, taking the score to 8-1 before his first period pin in 1:32, giving Brunswick the 6-3 overall lead.
Next up was Luke Black facing Branton Lantz at 120. Black was victorious in a 4-1 win, tying the team score up at 6-6.
Then it was 126, Justin George and his counterpart Thomas Castenoda were locked in a close one until Castenoda was able to secure the 11-7 victory. The team score became 6-9.
Anthony Valore, returning from earning eighth place at the Bill Dies Tournament, was looking to keep his momentum going facing off against Josh Heil. The match was one sided from the start. Heil took the score to 17-4 before he pinned Valore with 15 seconds left in the second period, increasing the Blue Devil’s lead to 15-6.
The middleweights started in a 138-pound match with Billy Muncy and Nick Kuissis. Kuissis was in control the entire match, finishing Muncy off by way of pin with 59 seconds left in the second period. Brunswick’s team score grew to 21-6.
Joey Andrassy and Austin Fallon had their skirmish at the 145-pound weight class. Andrassy, who took sixth at the Bill Dies Tournament, and his counterpart were unable to score any points in the first period. The nail-biting match ended in favor of Andrassy 2-1. Stow was back on the board, chipping away at the lead making the team score 21-9.
At 152, Logan Emery wrestled Cade Bonds. Bonds won the match by major decision 15-5. Turning the score into 25-9.
Bill Dies Tournament 160-pound fifth place wrestler Nick Planicka was up against Frank Tusick. In a tight one, Tusick was victorious in a 3-1 win, again increasing Brunswick’s total score to 28-9.
170-pound Travis Bodjanac grappled with Brandon Bryant. Bryant walked away with the easy win by pin in 1:31. The team score then became 34-9.
The heavyweight classes began in a quick, 182-pound pin by Mike Bekney who defeated Kiyal Izaldine in 45 seconds. Making the team score an incredible 40-9 in favor of Brunswick.
The 195-pound weight class, with Aaron Naples, granted Brunswick with a free six team points due to forfeit. Team scores 46-9.
Brian Baranowski was defeated at the 220 pound weight class by Collin Sustersic 5-2. Making Brunswick’s lead 49-9.
Even with the insurmountable 40 point lead, heavyweight Jared Tatgenhorst seemed unfazed. He hastily pinned Mike Fontana in 1:42, bringing the final team score to 49-15 in favor of Brunswick.
Dating all the way back to 776 BC at Olympia’s first Olympic Games, wrestling has not only been a recreational sport, but also a form of hand to hand combat.
Dan Gable, who had a collegiate career of 181-1 once said, “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”
Wrestling is a lifelong commitment for some people. Junior State Qualifier Kyle Jenkins says he has been wrestling for 12 years, ever since he was five years old.
We asked Jenkins, with the sport being so difficult, why do students continue to wrestle? He replied, “Everyone seems to have a lot of fun together. Wrestling makes people closer than anyone can imagine.”
Wrestling is a sport still growing in popularity. Since 2003, the number of student wrestling in high school has increased by 40,000.
How can such a popular sport still by growing. According to Jenkins, “The sport has great interest because it takes a lot of hard work and brings a great reward. It helps you grow as a person and is a great way to make new friends and have fun.”
Wrestling is arguably one of the toughest sports, Sophomore Joey Andrassy said, “Wrestling is a tough sport, its a grind.” He continued to say, “The season is long and having to cut weight during Christmas break is hard.”
When wrestlers cut weight, they attempt to lose as much fat as possible to obtain a higher strength-to-mass ratio. Theoretically, that should give an advantage against wrestlers at the same weight. Some wrestlers go to extreme lengths to cut weight, such as not eating for days on end and drinking only a microscopic amount of water. Then, after one weighs in, one eats a large quantity of food and liquid in a small time, only to starve it off the next day. No other athlete in any other sport can say they go through that trouble just to participate at the next match.
Jenkins said, “Last year overall wasn’t too bad of a season. It was a young team and a down year, this year should be a lot different.”
When asking Andrassy what he looks forward to this season he said, “I’m looking forward to wrestling down in Columbus (for states) at the end of the season, I want to win that state title.”
After the new year if one is looking for a way to support these hard workers, the James G. Tyree Invitational will be held in the gym of the high school on January 3.