Woodridge wrestlers win title at Stammen Invitational

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

The Janet Stammen Invitational might not be the biggest tournament in Ohio.

For the home team, however, the Stammen always has significance -- particularly this year.

Woodridge celebrated 50 years of wrestling at Stammen Jan. 5 by winning the team title in the eight-team tournament. Woodridge won with 236 points, holding off runner-up Norton (203 points).

Woodridge also honored former coach Stan Stammen with a picture of Woodridge's first wrestling team from 1963 prior to the finals. The tournament is named after Stan's wife, Janet, who is a long-time booster of the program.

"It was a big deal for us because it's our 50th year," said Woodridge coach Mike Massey. "Stan's the one who started the wrestling and cross country programs. We had a lot of alumni come out, so it was a good time."

On the mat, Woodridge honored its history by winning five weight classes and taking second in five others.

After an up-and-down December, senior 126-pounder John Vineyard opened 2013 by winning his weight class, pinning Norton's AJ Ritzman in 1:20 in the final.

"We told Jon, 'Look, Norton's still pretty close and we're not comfortable with our lead,'" Massey said. "He wrestled his match. He got three pins on the weekend."

At 132 pounds, sophomore Alex Teodecki continues to impress, pinning Orrville's Mike Ogg in 53 seconds in the final.

"I told him, 'Teo, you're not pretty, but you sure are getting results,'" Massey said. "He's just unorthodox. He gets points in bunches. He's very similar to [Woodridge graduate] Pat [Rado].

Senior 152-pounder Trevon Burgins also pinned his man in the final, after two major decisions earlier in the day.

Massey said heading into the holidays that his spots at 160 and 170 pounds were "wide open." After a solid performance in Loudonville, Massey gave junior Eric Bissonnette the start at 160.

"I told Eric, 'Don't make me look like a fool,'" Massey said.

Instead, Bissonnette made Massey look like a genius, as he pinned his way to the title, including a pin in 1:54 in the final over Norton's Michael Nunez.

Meanwhile,the final at 170 pounds was appropriate for a Woodridge tournament, based on recent history: It was Bulldog vs. Bulldog.

Massey said sophomore Demetrius Tabler and junior Christian Reese each wrestled great matches to get to the finals. Tabler was trailing 14-1 in the semifinals with 20 seconds to go when he threw his opponent on his back and pinned him.

"That was just a great match," Massey said. "If he gives up one more takedown, the match is over. He just said 'I want to try one more thing,' and it worked."

In the final, Tabler scored another pin, this time over Reese in 2:42.

One of the most anticipated matches of the tournament had Woodridge 220-pounder Mason Hilling facing Norton All-Ohioan Sean Rutherford.

Unfortunately, Rutherford dominated the match, forcing Hilling to settle for second.

Senior 138-pounder Pat Dickinson also had to settle for second, after making what Massey called "a critical error" in the first period of his match with Norton's Colin Hagenbush. Hagenbush pinned Dickinson, which gave Dickinson his fourth straight second place at the Stammen.

Woodridge also got second-place finishes from 120-pounder Brian Cooper, 145-pounder Hunter Mercer and 195-pounder Cody Jenkins.

The Bulldogs also got third-place finishes from 113-pounder Matt Dodds and 182-pounder Doug McIe.

Woodridge was set to return to Portage Trail Conference County Division action with a tri-meet at Mogadore with Waterloo Jan. 10, but results weren't available at press time.

"There's a lot of things riding on tomorrow," Massey said Jan. 9.

Woodridge has a full week ahead of it, beginning with its final County Division dual meet at Garfield Jan. 17 at 6 p.m.

The Bulldogs will then participate in the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament Jan. 18 and 19 at Akron Firestone. First match Jan. 18 is set for 3 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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