Raves aminig for 8th straight league title at WRC wrestling tournament

By Don Dreger Record-Courier assistant sports edit Published:

The second Western Reserve Conference wrestling tournament opens Friday at 5 p.m. at Solon High School and it should be a real donnybrook. Ravenna, who has won eight league titles (seven Metro, one WRC) in a row, was barely challenged last year in the initial WRC Tournament, scoring 2471/2 points and outdistancing second-place Twinsburg Chamberlin's 2161/2. However, this year will be different. Nordonia and Hudson have joined the WRC and now the tournament has 12 teams, instead of ten. Both schools bring more than respectable programs into the tournament so there will be more of a fight for bonus points. Last year, Ravenna crowned three champions and had five finish second. Pulling eight wrestlers into the finals will be hard to duplicate. In fact, according to the seedings brackets, the Ravens have two wrestlers, Brandon Hayes (103 pounds) and Andy Hampton (189), seeded No. 1, and three matmen, Keith Lara (140), Jesse Edsall (160) and Brad Bauer (171), seeded No. 2. These five are favored to make it to the finals, earning the nine advancement points that usually pulls a team away from the field. Hayes has a 13-0 record and Hampton is 14-0. Hampton has dropped from 215 pounds to 189. Both will be favorites to win the state tournament. Bauer carries a 13-3 record. But Nordonia lurks in the woods. The Knights, always one of the better wrestling schools in northeast Ohio, have another one of those teams. Gino Iacoboni (140), Louie Iacoboni (145), Ryan Lange (160) and Jared Tanner (215) are all top seeded for Nordonia. Only in one weight class do the two teams clash, and that is at 140 pounds. The only thing in Ravenna's favor is that the Ravens outscored Nordonia at the Medina Invitational Tournament and easily won the Solon Tournament where Chamberlin, Hudson and Solon were common opponents. "Solon will be the dark horse like we were last year," said Ravenna coach Steve Reedy. "Nordonia will be tough also. "As a team, we haven't put it all together this season. We will need team depth to succeed. Every kid has to score. Everyone has a job to do and we need some pleasant surprises." The secret of winning will be how high the other wrestlers place. Ravenna placed 13 wrestlers in last year's WRC Tournament. It will not be that easy this season. Ravenna placed 10 grapplers at Solon. In addition to Hayes, Bauer and Hampton winning titles, Todd Wunderle (119) and Jeff Dunfee (125) were second, Chris Davis (112) and Mike Ramsey (130) were third, Edsall (160) was fourth and Steve McDaniel (215) was fifth. "Knock on wood, everyone is healthy," said Reedy. "But this time of the year is dangerous. This week is weight certification week so all the kids have to make the weight they want to wrestle at later." Kent Roosevelt will rely on the leadership of senior Jeremy Good, who has posted a 5-2 record this season at 189 pounds. Unfortunately, he will run into Hampton, who dropped to 189 this week. "After the Hudson Tournament, I think Good kicked it into gear," said Roosevelt coach Wes Murphy. "That was two weeks ago. Time will tell. The returning champ at 189 is still there (Tim Corrigan from Chamberlin) ... I think we can give him a match. And it also depends on where Hampton will wrestle. I don't know if he's going to stay up at 215 or if he's dropping. He's wrestled at 215 all year. We're looking to be in the finals somewhere, if not first or second then third or fourth for sure. "The league tournament will probably be our toughest tournament. If some of our kids get a good seed, we should do well. If they don't, it could be a long weekend." Murphy is realistic about his team's chances. "We'll probably finish right about where we did last year, around seventh," said the Rough Riders boss. "You add Nordonia this year and you add Hudson this year ... it'll come down to how many kids get a good draw. Nordonia's pretty stacked this year. I'd say they're the favorite, but Ravenna won't be too far behind, though." Other Roosevelt wrestlers to look for are seniors Nashid Habeeb at 145 pounds (4-3) and heavyweight Tim Mansfield (5-3). Both finished fourth last year. "It's a very tough tournament," said Murphy. "We'll be in there somewhere. A couple of our kids have a chance of placing somewhere, and the rest will give it a good battle and we'll see what we can do."

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