By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
Heading into the postseason, Rootstown head coach Craig Wise he said he wanted to take "a bus" up the Division III district tournament at Garfield Heights.
It was mission accomplished for Rootstown as the Rovers had 10 wrestlers on the mat at districts.
At the district level, however, quality counts more than quantity.
Fortunately, the Rovers have a bit of that, too.
Rootstown stands in 10th place after day one at the district tourney with 33 points.
Waterloo stands 15th with 23 points, Garfield is tied for 24th with 13 points and Mogadore is 36th with eight points.
Defending Division III state champion Waynedale leads the team race with 66 points.
All told, Portage County will have six wrestlers in the semifinals when wresting resumes this morning.
Wise was a bit lukewarm on his team's performance. After going 5-5 in the first round, Rootstown saw only its two top guns -- 170-pounder Travis Linton and 220-pounder Jake Moore -- reach the semifinals.
"Every match gets tougher from here on in," Wise said. "Hopefully, we'll see what happens with those two.
Linton scored a pair of first-period pins, including a stick in 1:50 over Loudonville's Blake Cary in quarterfinals. He faces Northwestern's Joey Meek in the semifinals.
Moore was in control of both of his matches, including a 7-2 win in the quarterfinal over Elyria Catholic's Adam Kuchta. He will face Maplewood's Tyler Shank in the semifinals.
Beyond that, the quarterfinals were a bit tough on the Rovers, particularly 195-pounder Kyle Slaughter, who lost 12-10 to Norwayne's Heath Rohrbaugh.
"I would love to see him get to states," Linton said of his drill partner. "He's worked so hard and pushed me all year."
Slaughter is one of five Rovers, including all three Rootstown freshmen, who remain alive in the consolation bracket.
"I'm hoping that every one of my guys can win a couple matches in the consolations," Wise said. "It's everything right now."
Waterloo ended up with only three wrestlers competing Friday, as 182-pound Henry Bolanz had to scratch because of a back injury.
The good news for Waterloo is two of its wrestlers have reached the semifinals, as 138-pounder JJ Diven and 195-pounder Brandon Brenes advanced.
"They've been wrestling pretty hard recently," said Waterloo head coach Brian Munger. "I would like to see all three of them get out."
Diven will take an undefeated 44-0 record into the semifinals, as he beat Berkshire's Cody Charvat 15-6 to reach the semifinals. Meanwhile, Brenes was his usually funky self, defeating Beachwood's Paully Flowers 7-2.
Brenes threw a one-legged pancake in the match in the win over Flowers -- a move which Munger described as "frustrating."
What was more frustrating for Waterloo was a 7-6 loss in the quarterfinals for 152-pounder Josh Horning. He lost to Orrville's Brad Potter.
The big news this postseason for Garfield is the return of defending state runner-up Kevin Stock. After missing the entire regular season following the death of the his brother Nick, Stock finds himself one win away from his third trip to states.
Garfield head coach Alan Harbert said Stock returned to the room the week of the Portage Trail Conference Tournament.
"He decided to come back," Harbert said. "I'm glad he's back. It's going to help him.
"We'll see how far he goes," Harbert added. "His ultimate goal is to progress as far as he can."
Stock looked like his old self in the quarterfinals, pinning Black River's Jake Maund in 30 seconds. He faces Northwestern's Ken Schaefer in the today's semifinals.
Garfield 195-pounder Andy Anderson also remains alive in the consolations.
Mogadore had some good news on day one as well, as junior 132-pounder Justin Chew is one win away from becoming the Wildcats' first state qualifier since Shayne Stewart in 2009.
Chew squeezed out a 3-2 win over Northwestern's Tyler Berry to reach the semifinal level of competition.
"He's had an excellent season," said Mogadore head coach Jason Windon. "He's done everything we wanted."
"Going this far is not my goal," Chew said. "My goal is to place here and get to states. It's been what I've been working for all year."
Chew will face Cardinal's Casey Johns in the semifinals.
Wrestling resumes at Garfield Heights today at 11 a.m.