Cuyahoga Falls wrestling coach Craig Wilson had a blunt assessment after his team's effort at the Division I district tournament at Mentor Feb. 22 and 23.
"You can't always get what you wish for. That's why they call it the Mentor Meatgrinder." Wilson said. "Almost everything that could happen to us did happen, but we wrestled well."
After a rough first day on the mat, Falls rallied to finish tied with Mentor for 19th at districts with 34 points. Massillon Perry won the team title with 199.5 points.
The good news for Falls is senior 195-pounder Joe Repasky earned a return trip to states by taking fourth place. The top four finishers in each weight class reached Columbus.
The bad news is Repasky is going alone after two of Falls' best wrestlers exited the tournaments due to injury.
Falls' 220-pounder Rudy Ware suffered a concussion in his consolation semifinal match, while 113-pounder Mitch Hannan had to leave the tournament after fracturing a disc in his neck.
Wilson said Hannan should make a full recovery, but the tournament certainly shook him up a bit.
"You always want to push hard, but seeing the guys have to leave on stretchers like that, it puts the athletics in perspective," Wilson said. "We chose the wrong weekend to get beat up."
Day one was not kind to the Black Tigers, as all eight of Falls' district qualifiers were either eliminated or sent to the consolation bracket.
In fact, Repasky lost his opening match, falling 7-4 to Isen Vajusi of St. Ignatius.
"He wasn't ready to go in his first match," Wilson said of Repasky.
Luckily, Repasky got the wake-up call and won four straight matches to earn his berth at states.
Repasky pinned Hoover's Tyler Stoltz in 1:38, beat Lake's Chris Meffert 5-1 and downed Bedford's Marquise Copeland to reach the consolation semifinal.
In the consolation semi, Repasky was involved in a tight one with Shaw's Antoine Barbee, but Repasky pulled out the 3-2 win to punch his ticket.
In the third-place match, Repasky lost a 5-1 decision to Barberton's Aaron Tschantz.
Repasky was set to begin the state tournament Feb. 28 at Value City Arena (see story, Page 40).
Ware opened his tournament by pinning Eastlake North's Paul Gilmore in 1:17, but then lost a rematch of the finals from the NOC Tournament, losing 11-8 to Shaker Heights' Kevin Agee.
Ware rebounded by beating St. Ignatius' Max Baughman 8-4 and Canton McKinley's Stephen Richburg 16-13.
In the consolation semifinal, Ware was involved with a scramble with Maple Heights' Devin Revels, when he landed on the back of his head.
"Rudy was literally knocked out," Wilson said. "This is Rudy's third or fourth concussion, so they're being very careful with him."
Ware lost the match by injury default and also defaulted the fifth-place match to North Royalton's Garrett Snyder.
Hannan's injury came during a scramble in the third-round consolation match with Maple Heights' Andre Stowers.
Falls also had 160-pounder Austyn Wilson reach the third round of consolations, when he too was hit with some bad luck. Wilson had Hoover's Tyler Malloy on his back in second period when the referee hit Wilson with a defensive pin at the 2:44 mark.
Falls' 170-pounder Bucky Hendershot won his opening round match by pinning Euclid's Dwayne Walker in 1:44. However, he lost his next two matches, dropping a 15-0 technical fall to Maple Heights' Richard Robertson and a 2-1 loss to Canton McKinley's Luke Boswell.
Heavyweight Sampson Demand also went 1-2 at districts
Falls' 120-pounder Cole Oldham and 126-pounder Jacob King each went 0-2 at Mentor.