Heading into the Division I sectional tournament at Austintown Fitch, Cuyahoga Falls wrestling coach Craig Wilson admitted he didn't know what to expect.
"We had been really inconsistent all year," Wilson said. "We were hoping to get five or six kids out [to districts]."
Falls chose an opportune time to exceed the coach's expectations.
Falls finished third at the Austintown with 165 points, trailing only champion Hudson (198.5 points) and runner-up Solon (179.5). The tournament took place Feb. 15 and 16.
More importantly, the Black Tigers advanced eight wrestlers on to the district meet. The top four placers in each weight class at Austintown advanced to districts.
"We had a couple of kids step up," Wilson said. "It was very good to see."
Falls had one weight class champion at Austintown in junior 220-pounder Rudy Ware.
Ware was top form, pinning Kent Roosevelt's Sean Miller and Hudson's Matt Slater on his way to the final. He then needed just 1:09 to pin Boardman's Justin Humpheys in the final.
"Going in, you're hoping that's Rudy could do something like that," Wilson said. "I think he's getting into a higher mode of thinking. He's worked a little extra hard. He's got a more serious frame of mind."
Like Ware, senior 195-pounder Joey Repasky was given the top seed. Also like Ware, Repasky pinned his way to the final, sticking Stow-Munroe Falls' Chris Wright in 1:18 and pinning Kenston's Nick Lewis.
In the final, Repasky tangled with Lakeside's Kyle Conel, who came into the match undefeated. It was a tight affair, but Conel pulled out the 3-2 win.
"Joe wrestled good; he got beat by one point," Wilson said. "This week, I don't think that kid will beat Joey again. We'll be ready."'
Falls had one other finalist in 120-pounder Cole Oldham. Oldham reached the final with a 15-0 technical fall over Twinsburg's Alec Detweiler and a 13-1 win over Chardon's Anthony Tilocco.
However, Oldham's final opponent was two-time state champion Brandon Thompson of Solon. Thompson got the pin in 3:56.
Wilson complimented 113-pounder Mitch Hannan for getting third place after a very rocky season. Hannan defeated Lakeside's Tyler Newsome 13-3 in the third-place match.
Junior 170-pounder Bucky Hendershot also managed to take third place, defeating Kenston's Nolan Kondik 6-5 in the third place match.
Falls also got a third-place finish from sophomore heavyweight Sampson Demand. Wilson said Demand's third place was particularly gratifying, as he defeated his arch rival, Hudson's Peter Mougey, 3-1 in the consolation final.
Falls got fourth-place finishes from 126-pounder Jacob King and 160-pounder Austyn Wilson.
Falls was set to participate in the Division I district tournament at Mentor Feb. 22 and 23, but results were not available at press time. The top four placers at Mentor advance to the state meet.
The Division I state meet will begin Feb. 28 at Value Cite Arena in Columbus. Division I wrestling will start at 5:45 p.m.