Nordonia wrestling takes second at Suburban League meet

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

After last week's results, Nordonia wrestling probably is a bit sick of that team from southeast Medina County.

Twice last week, the Knights wrestled well, only to see their hopes of victory quashed by a pack of Grizzlies.

First, Nordonia hosted the regional semifinals in Division I, Region 2-B of the state team wrestling tournament. Despite missing a few starters due to illness, Nordonia defeated top-seeded Barberton 35-24, only to lose to Wadsworth 33-24 in the nightcap.

Nordonia then wrestled at the Suburban League Tournament Feb. 2 at Green. The Knights' seven finalists and 12 individual placers at the tournament -- which was good only for second place.

Wadsworth won the tournament for the 21st straight season with 230 points, winning eight individual titles. Nordonia was second with 173.5 points.

Knights coach Audie Atienza said Wadsworth brought its "A" game to the league tournament.

"They wrestled a good tournament," Atienza said. "I'm always in favor of the team that wrestles the best winning, so I tip my hat. Overall, we wrestled pretty well, but of course, I think we should have done better. There are some matches I'd like to have back."

It was Nordonia's state qualifier who led the charge at the Suburban League meet, as 220-pounder Alex Woicehovich won his second straight Suburban League title.

"Wojo" pinned Wadsworth's Chris George in the 220-pound final in 1:33, claiming the title in dominant fashion.

"He wrestled a good tournament," Atienza said of Woicehovich. "He's headed in the right direction going into the postseason tournaments."

Unfortunately, Nordonia saw its six other finalists lose in the title matches.

Atienza praised 126-pounder Trevon Berry for wrestling an excellent tournament. Berry was edged 4-3 in the final by Wadsworth's Darrin Gilkerson for the title.

Atienza also acknowledged 182-pounder Eric Claren had a very tough match in the finals with Revere All-Ohioan Stephen Suglio. Suglio won 7-2 in the final.

For the Decesare brothers and 145-pounder Jake Urich, each saw their title dreams quashed by their respective nemeses from Wadsworth.

First, Tony Decesare fell in the 106-pound final in a tight 6-5 decision to Wadsworth's Noah Baughman.

Them, 138-pounder Mike Decesare dropped a 12-6 loss to the Grizzlies' Mathias Zollinger.

Finally, Urich lost at tight contest to Wadsworth's Abdul Abdulhabib 7-5.

Nordonia also had junior 132-pounder Heath Phillibert reach the finals, but he dropped a 5-2 decision to Cloverleaf's Marc Heidelman.

Nordonia got a third-place finish from 120-pounder Nick Collica and fourth places from 113-pounder Andrew Coghill, 160-pounder Ryan Taylor, 195-pounder Nick Bina and heavyweight Brandon Ren.

At the state duals, Atienza said his team accomplished its primary goal.

"We had two high intensity matches that night, but we couldn't get ahead of ourselves," Atienza said. "The first objective was to beat Barberton."

The Knights did just that, taking 8 of 14 matches, while overcoming forfeits at 152 and 170 pounds.

Nordonia had several wrestlers battling the flu that night, but Atienza refused to use that as an excuse for losing to Wadsworth in the nightcap.

It should be noted that each team won six wrestled matches on the night and the 12 points provided by Nordonia's forfeits at 170 and heavyweight provided the Grizzlies with their 11-point margin of victory.

Wadsworth advanced to face Brecksville in the Division I, Region 2 final Feb. 6 at Brecksville.

Nordonia's regular season is now over, but Atienza knows his team is in for a rigorous test to open its postseason run. The Knights will participate in the Division I sectional tournament at Medina Feb. 15 and 16.

The field at Medina includes -- guess who? -- Wadsworth, Brecksville, recently crowned Northeast Ohio Conference Champion Brunswick and Strongsvile.

Little wonder why Atienza and his fellow coaches refer to this tournament as "The Sectional from Hell."

"This is by far the toughest sectional in the state, regardless of the division," Atienza said. "I think when everything is settled, you'll have more state placers coming out of this sectional than any other. We know the task at had. We're prepping our guys to get out and live another day."

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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