After a couple of performances he rated as subpar during the holiday season, Nordonia wrestling coach Audie Atienza was happy to see school start again last week.
"Not to make excuses for anything, but I think the holiday break threw our guys off a bit," Atienza said. "Once we got back into school and back into our routine, things kind of self-corrected."
That routine so far this season included the following: Work hard during the week, beat the opposition silly on Thursday and repeat.
The pattern resumed Jan. 10 as Nordonia dominated Copley 60-15 and Green 41-21 in a tri-meet at Copley.
Nordonia improved to 15-1 in dual meets, 6-0 in the Suburban League.
Atienza said his team put in a workmanlike effort at Copley, despite not having a complete lineup.
"We came out and took care of business," Atienza said. "We had a couple holes, but the guys that we kind of expected to win did what they needed to do."
Against the Indians, Nordonia won 11-of-14 matches and one of those losses was by forfeit at heavyweight.
Nordonia got pins from 106-pounder Tony Decesare, 120-pounder Nick Collica, 126-pounder Trevon Berry, 132-pounder Heath Phillibert, 152-pounder Jacob Dejesus, 160-pounder Ryan Taylor and 182-pounder Eric Claren.
At 138 pounds, junior Mike Decesare scored a 13-4 win, while 170-pounder David Rodriguez pulled out an 8-7 win.
Junior 113-pounder Anthony Coghill won by forfeit.
Atienza said he knew Green would present a stiffer challenge, but the Knights still won 10-of-14 matches.
"We knew coming in that we had some holes, but we were pretty confident that we could get the job done," Atienza said. "We were pretty happy with how we wrestled."
After a forfeit win by Tony Decesare, Collica squeezed out a 3-2 win at 120.
After losing at 126, Nordonia then won the match by winning the next eight bouts.
Phillibert started the charge with an 18-9 major-decision win, followed by a pin from Mike Decesare.
Nordonia 145-pounder Jake Urich squeezed out a 2-1 win, followed by an 18-5 major decision from Dejesus.
Taylor then avenged a loss from last season by squeezing out at 2-1 win, followed by a 12-6 win by Rodriguez.
Claren then scored a 6-2 win and 195-pounder Nick Bina completed the run with a pin.
The victories for the Knights set up a showdown with perennial Suburban League champion Wadsworth Jan. 17. Varsity start time is set for 7 p.m.
The winner of this contest will claim the outright dual meet championship in the Suburban League, which counts for half of the overall title.
Despite the stakes and the stature of the Grizzlies, Atienza downplayed the importance of the dual.
"We are aware of who's coming to town Thursday," Atienza said. "That said, it's just another match. We're going to be ready."
Nordonia will also begin the state duals Jan. 23, but location and opponent were not announced at press time.
The Knights will participate in annual Cable 9 tri-meet Jan. 26 at Aurora. First match is set for noon.