By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
The West Branch Division II Sectional wrestling tournament was good to the Portage Trail Conference as 19 individuals qualified for a trip to next weekend's Alliance District level.
Field and Crestwood produced the most local individuals to advance, with eight apiece, while Southeast will send three standouts to Alliance.
Crestwood placed second overall as a team with 190 points, while Field placed fifth with 176 points. Southeast took eighth overall with 101.5 points.
The Red Devils led the way with four individual weight-class champions -- led by area standout Dylan Kager, who dominated Braycen Shelton of West Branch with a 19-2 technical fall.
Connor Nemec picked up the 100th victory of his career at 120 pounds, defeating Travis Pidgeon of West Branch by a 3-0 decision to win the class.
Kenny Jackson (182 pounds) and Jake Zemaitis (113 pounds) also were victorious in claiming their respective weight-class titles.
Garrett Gerardi (152) and Ricky Kollman (160) fell short of claiming consolation round wins, but their fourth-place finishes were still good enough to earn them spots in next weekend's district tournament.
Crestwood head coach Dave Wrobel said that he was pleased with the performance of his grapplers at one of the toughest sectionals in the state.
"I'm pretty excited because we knew, top to bottom, that this was the toughest sectional of the four that feed into Alliance," Wrobel said. "So we knew coming in that maybe we won't carry 10 or 12 kids on, but the kids that we are going to get out, will be quality and have a real shot at advancing to state."
Kager turned in one of the most dominant performances of the tournament with his victory.
Wrobel said that the Red Devils' senior standout is right on track to make a run at a state championship.
"Dylan, he came out like a bat out of hell in his final," Wrobel said. "His performance was outstanding. He's on a mission right now, and he just looks excellent."
Field's Zack Ladich was victorious at 152, defeating David Brian Whisler of Howland by a 3-2 decision.
Cory Simpson lost a 4-3 decision to Dakota Oliver in the first final of the afternoon at 106, but Simpson will still be moving on to the district level with his second-place finish.
Six other Falcons competed in the consolation finals as Vince Dejulius (113), Brett Mayfield (120), Jimmy Kubitza (132) and Matt Hettick (195) all were victorious in their respective third-place matches. Jarett Trautman (126) and Jacob Lawhorn (182) were defeated in consolation finals, but will still advance with fourth-place finishes.
Field head coach Joe Retherford said the eight Falcons moving on to next week's regionals is a big moment for the program.
"This is our best showing in school history and that's what I'm most proud about," Retherford said. "My first year, I brought eight total kids to this tournament and now we're bringing eight kids to districts.
"This is one of the toughest sectionals in D-2, if not the whole state," Retherford said. "So, I'm really proud of how hard our guys competed today."
Southeast was led by Brandon James, who took the 170 title with an 8-3 decision over John Poullas of Canfield. In the other final for the Pirates, Santana Barrera (220) was defeated by Logan Sharp of West Branch by a fall at the 2:33 mark.
James' win was the 100th of his career.
Hunter McPeak will also be moving on after defeating C.J. Frost of Canfield by a fall at 2:10 in the 138 consolation final.
Pirates head coach Bob Noall said that his team's eighth-place finish was slightly disappointing, but that he was proud of the way his kids competed.
"I was kind of hoping to maybe get a couple more people out and that part was disappointing," Noall said. "But we had a couple of kids finish sixth, which was unexpected, so their performance was good.
Noall added that he was especially pleased with the way James is competing as the postseason gets under way.
"Brandon has the right mindset and he wrestled a great match," Noall said. "He's really physical and tough and I think he has what it takes to win the whole thing."