Amazing… Dominant… Unheard of… Special…Not ever to be repeated…These are the words to describe what the St. Edward wrestling program has done over the last thirteen years. It has been an amazing dynasty, and may be the greatest stretch of excellence ever seen in Cleveland area sports. The numbers are mind-boggling: Thirteen straight state championships, breaking a tie for most consecutive team championships held by the Cincinnati St. Xavier swim team from 1970-1981. Twenty eight team wrestling titles, and the list goes on and on…
This year, however, there is a real serious threat to the Eagles’ dominance. The Wadsworth Grizzlies are the real deal, and could very well spoil the annual St. Edward coronation. These two teams had “the appetizer” last weekend at the Ashland district, but the “entrée” and all the marbles with be in Columbus this weekend. Each team has wrestlers that can win state titles. More importantly, each team has wrestlers that can pile up team points through the consolation brackets. The team title will come down to these two teams, so let’s see how they stack up:
Ashland district result: St. Edward 289.5,-Wadsworth 268.5
State Qualifiers: Wadsworth 12,-St. Edward 11
District Champions: St. Edward 6-Wadsworth 6
Projected State Champs: Wadsworth 4-St. Edward 2
There were four head-to head matchups at the Ashland district, with Wadsworth winning three out of the four by the narrowest of margins. The teams are a study in contrast. While Wadsworth fields a senior laden team full of experience, St. Edwards starts eight sophomores and freshman out of the fourteen weights. Who are the main players that will determine the team title?
St. Edward: Strong in the lower and middle weights, led by two-time state champ and University of Illinois recruit Jaime Clark, 2008 state champ and Virginia recruit Gus Sako, three time place winner and Virginia recruit Nick Sulzer, and two time place winner and Lehigh recruit Anthony Salupo. Also capable of winning a state title are freshmen Dean Heil and Domenic Abounader, both district champions at the Ashland district.
Wadsworth: The Grizzlies have three great upper weight wrestlers in undefeated Caleb Busson, Nick Tavanello, and heavyweight Ben Buzzelli. They will get major points from the Squire brothers, Brad (an Ohio University recruit) and Kagan, with both projected to the state final. Watch out for 112 pounder Alfredo Gray, as he has a favorable bracket, and could make a run to secure even more points. Wadsworth has already ended a long St. Edward winning streak. In 2009, they became the first team from Ohio to beat St. Edward in a dual meet since 1997, defeating the Eagles 27-25.
This could be the closest race to the claim the Division I crown in over 30 years, and may not even be decided until very late in the day Saturday night. Will there be a new king of the hill in Ohio wrestling? What will determine final team victory? Keep an eye on the consolation bracket. If either team’s wrestlers lose early, they can still pick up team points by continuing to win through the lower bracket. It could very well be the team with the most third and fourth place finishers, and not state champions, that decides the team title.
Either way, it is going to be exciting, and a can’t miss show.
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