CVCA wrestling's state team title dreams fizzle vs. Ross

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

Columbus -- Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy wrestling was part of history Feb. 9.

The Royals were one of eight Division II team to participate in the inaugural state team wrestling tournament at St. John Arena in Columbus.

Given the No. 2 seed in the eight-team, one-day tournament, the Royals hoped to have a shot at the first ever Division II team crown.

Unfortunately, the Royals were eliminated in the quarterfinals -- by the slimmest of margins.

CVCA's quarterfinal match with Hamilton Ross ended with the score tied at 30-30. To determine a winner, the match went to criteria.

Both teams won seven individual bouts, but Ross finished with three 6-point wins (two pins and a forfeit) to two for CVCA (one pin, one forfeit).

As a result, Ross was given the criteria point and a 31-30 win.

CVCA finished the season 15-2 in dual meets. There only other dual-meet loss this season came vs. Division I champion St. Edward during the first week of the season.

Ross advanced to the Division II semifinals, where it lost 48-22 to Urichsville Claymont.

Claymont then lost in the final 36-24 to St. Paris Graham.

St. Edward won the Division I title by beating Massillon Perry 28-21, while Delta won the Division III title by beating Massillon Tuslaw 52-17 in the final.

CVCA coach Dave Bergen said the loss was tough to take, not only because it was so close, but because CVCA seemed to have the match in hand. The Royals led 27-6 after the 152-pound match, only to see the Rams launch a comeback.

"It came down to the second or third tie-breaker, so it's a tough," Bergen said. "I wish we would have won it more decisively.

"You go through the refining fire [during the season]," Bergen added. "Like the coaches are telling me, there's always good that can come out of this. We'll get back to work for the postseason."

Despite the quarterfinal loss, Bergen said he loved the format of the state team tournament and the fact the finals took place at St. John Arena.

"I really liked it," Bergen said. "I'd like to come back next year and win a few more rounds. Hats off to Hamilton Ross. They have the upmost respect from me."

The match started in the 106-pound weight class, though CVCA freshman Mason Brainard still weighs in at about 80 pounds. Brainard looked to be giving up at least 25 pounds to Ross' Aaron Cox. Brainard was game, getting an early reversal, but lost a 7-5 decision.

CVCA's lightweight stars then all took care of business.

First, 113-pounder Ryan Bennett just missed getting a technical fall over Ross' Brenden Williams. He scored a 16-3 major decision.

Ross then chose not to face CVCA's three-time state champion Nate Tomasello, forfeiting the match at 120 pounds.

Royals' 126-pounder Josh Decatur then put on a takedown clinic against Ross' Joey Yerace, as he scored a 22-5 technical fall.

CVCA got its lone pin in the match at 132 pounds, as sophomore Andy Dobben stuck Ross' Austin Russell in 1:37.

At 138 pounds, junior Ricky Simonelli trailed 4-1 after one period, but then put Ross' Cordell Byrd on his back in the second. Simonelli didn't get the pin, but did turn the match around, as he hung on for an 8-7 win.

Down 24-3 at that point, Ross finally got back on the board when senior Joseph Jones pulled out a hard-fought 6-2 win over CVCA's Jeff Hojnacki.

However, CVCA got the points right back at 152 pounds when senior Matt Dobben scored a 7-2 win over Ross' Andrew Dunn.

That's when things started to unravel for CVCA.

At 160 pounds, CVCA's Michael Meadows was in his match until the last 10 seconds. That's when Ross sophomore Dalton Jones got the takedown to score a 5-2 win.

The killer result came at 170 pounds for CVCA.

CVCA sophomore Noah Havener was in a competitive match with Ross' Chase Sayers. But during a scramble late in the second period, Sayers put Havener on his back and got the pin at 3:53.

Had CVCA been able to pull out the win, the hero would have been junior Tyler Maclellan. Moving up to 182 pounds to face Ross' Ben Davis, Maclellan trailed early and suffered a nasty looking ankle injury early in the second period.

Maclellan was basically wrestling on one leg during the final four minutes of the match.

Despite this handicap, Maclellan somehow managed to get a reversal in the third period and turn Davis for a two-point nearfall. He then held on to claim a 5-4 win.

Maclellan went directly to the hospital after the match, with his ankle heavily wrapped.

Unfortunately for CVCA, Maclellan's heroics were in vain.

First, senior 195-pounder Nick Havener lost a 6-2 decision to Ross' Tyler Bidwell.

Then, undersized sophomore Paul Gibson gave his best effort at 220 pounds, but was pinned in 1:46 by Ross' Frank Heimkreiter.

Ross heavyweight Gavin Peacock then won by forfeit, setting up the tie.

CVCA was set to open the postseason at the Division II sectional meet at Walsh Jesuit Feb. 15 and 16, but results were not available at press time.

The top four finishers in each weight class at Walsh advance to the Division II district meet at Alliance Feb. 22 and 23.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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