By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
Six Portage Trail Conference wrestlers stamped their ticket to Columbus on Saturday, competing in the Division III Garfield Heights District wrestling tournament.
Waterloo and Rootstown each advanced two grapplers, while Mogadore and Garfield are each sending one individual to next weekend's Division III State Tournament, held in Columbus.
J.J. Diven of Waterloo made a statement in the 138-pound class, taking the top overall spot. Diven notched a pin over Graham Montague of Independence just 1:57 into the first period of the competition.
"J.J. was really focused today," Waterloo coach Brian Munger said. "He worked really hard today when he was on top and then he just finished (the match) out."
Teammate Brandon Brenes will be moving on as well, taking third place in the 195-pound class after his scheduled opponent, Austin Kuchta of Elyria Catholic, was forced to pull himself out with an injury.
Munger said that Brenes is a bit of a wild-card as he heads down to the state championship competition.
"Brandon is sort of unpredictable," Munger said. "He lost to the eventual champion (Ryan Weber of Loudenville), 6-4 in their match and then that kid went out and won 6-1 in the championships.
"So if he works hard, he could really perform well (at states)," Munger added.
Rootstown's Travis Linton got an unexpected bye to the state championship, winning the 170-pound title via forfeit. Linton's scheduled opponent, Brenden Stanley of Waynesdale, was forced to pull out after suffering an injury in his previous match.
Stanley was one of the top performers in the state, coming into Saturday's finals with a 52-0 record on the season.
In the 220-pound championship round, Jake Moore joined his Rootstown teammate as a champion, pinning Caleb Fry of Cardinal in 3:46.
It was the fifth time Moore -- now a two-time state qualifier -- had faced Fry and the fifth time Moore had emerged victorious.
"It's a chess match out there," Moore said. "I tried to get a takedown and I just caught him and pancaked him."
Rootstown's Jason Sadler took fifth place in the 126 division, pinning Lewis Roginsky of Brooklyn in 1:35. Sadler's fifth-place finish earned him an alternate bid to next week's state championships.
Rootstown head coach Craig Wise said that he was happy with the way all of his grapplers performed this weekend.
"The state championship is the goal for all of our guys," Wise said. "And I really think that both Travis and Justin can go down there and compete (for a championship).
"I'm happy for all of the PTC kids, really," Wise added. "It's always good to see our conference send kids down there. Other than my guys, the PTC kids are who I root for."
Garfield's Kevin Stock continued what has been a wild postseason, winning the 182-pound class with a 14-6 major decision over Jacob Worthington of Keystone.
Stock missed the entire 2012-13 regular season following the death of his brother Nick, but petitioned the state to return to the mat for the postseason.
Now Stock -- last year's state runner-up -- has a chance to take that final step and bring home a state championship.
G-Men head coach Alan Harbert said that Stock has gone through a boot camp of sorts to get back into wrestling shape for his state championship run.
"This (run) has been really good for him and the skills are all still there for Kevin," Harbert said. "We just need to work on his timing and especially his cardio.
"We're just going to spend the rest of this week doing what we've been doing -- just working on his timing and whipping him back into wrestling shape."
Mogadore's Justin Chew will be moving on to Columbus, but in a slightly worse seed after falling to Matt Hollingsworth of Clearview via a 6-4 decision. Chew was up on Hollingsworth until the final minute of the match before ceding to his opponent.
Mogadore head coach Jason Windon said that Chew was obviously disappointed by the finish of his match, but a fourth place finish still secures a shot at a state title.
"I told Justin after the match that he can be upset at himself, he can be upset at his opponent or he can be upset at me," Windon said. "But what matters is he needs to focus and go out and win a state championship."