By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
How tough is the sport of wrestling? Sometimes, in order to win, you have to fight through injuries to the neck.
That's right -- fight through a neck injury.
Rootstown 170-pounder Travis Linton was in the final at the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament on Saturday and going for the takedown against Brunswick's Tyler Hughes.
Linton got the takedown, but felt a twinge in his neck immediately.
"My neck started bothering me," Linton said. "After that first scramble, my body felt a shock and just went dead tired. I might have a small muscle tear in my neck, but there's nothing to be done about it until after the season."
So, Linton gutted it out.
He put Hughes on is back at the end of the second period and survived a late rally to win 6-5 and take the 170-pound title.
Linton was the only PTC wrestler to win an individual title at the Dies.
"It's called winning ugly," said Rovers coach Craig Wise. "His neck's been bothering him for a couple weeks, but you've got be able to win on your bad days."
Wise said, outside of Linton's victory, it wasn't the best tournament for the Rovers. Rootstown finished 22nd in the 40-team race with 63 points.
"Not a great weekend for us," Wise said. "We were due for a bad tournament and I guess this was it."
Brecksville won the team title for the sixth straight year at the Dies with 255 points, more than 100 points ahead of runner-up Barberton (146).
Among the PTC teams, Norton finished eighth with 100.5 points, Woodridge was 11th with 94 points, followed by Coventry (15th, 86.5), Kent Roosevelt (17th, 85), Rootstown, Mogadore (33rd, 38.5), Springfield (37th, 20) and Garfield (39th, 18).
Norton's top 10 performance was remarkable, considering it had only one finalist ins 220-pounder Sean Rutherford. Rutherford lost his title match to Barberton's Vernon Rowe 7-3.
"I never really imagined that we would be be able to finish in the top 10," said Norton coach Gene Leonard. "When we came in today, we almost won every consolation match that we had. We're only going to get better."
Likewise, Woodridge coach Mike Massey was happy with his team's place, as the Bulldogs got a third-place finish from 152-pounder Trevon Burgins.
"Our goal as team was to finish top 10 and we're close," Massey said. "This is a tough tournament. Trevon's place was as high as anyone we've every had."
After a solid first day, Coventry coach Keith Shinn rated his team's performance as a "C" at the Dies.
"And 'C' doesn't get you to the state tournament," Shinn said. "We've got four weeks to get ready for states."
Coventry heavyweight Travis Gosnell reached the title match, but a technical violation for illegally locking his hands cost him a 2-1 loss to Chippewa's Zack Srock.
The PTC had one other finalist in Kent Roosevelt's John Spurney, who reached the final at 182 pounds.
While Spurney was pinned in 1:44 by Revere's Stephen Suglio in the final, Roosevelt coach Nic Rossiter was still pleased, noting the Rough Riders had never had anyone reach the placement matches at Dies in his tenure.
""Everybody, wrestled hard this weekend," Rossiter said. "John hurt his ankle in the semifinal and you can tell it was bothering him.
Roosevelt also got a fourth-place finish from 152-pounder Aaron Miller, who lost 11-7 to Burgins in the third-place match.
Finally, Mogadore coach Jason Windon was very happy with his team's performance, noting it had been years since any Wildcat reached the podium at the Dies. Mogadore got a fifth-place finish from 132-pounder Justin Chew, who defeated Woodridge's Alex Teodecki 12-2 in the fifth-place match.