By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
More than half of the Portage Trail Conference's wrestling teams hit the mats at Akron Firestone on Friday for 27th annual Bill Dies Memorial Tournament.
More than one coach remarked that this year's Dies field was "loaded," which makes the PTC's day one performance that much more remarkable.
Coventry leads a trio of PTC teams in the top 12 heading into today's quarterfinal rounds. The Comets finished the day second in the team race with 106.5 points. Defending champion Brecksville leads with 112.5 points.
Rootstown stands in seventh place with 82.5 points, while Streetsboro is tied for 11th with 71 points and Norton stands 16th with 65.5 points.
Coventry coach Keith Shinn admitted he was pleasantly surprised by this team's performance.
"We're not built as a tournament-style team; we're a dual-meet team," Shinn said. "Our depth can't show. I'm pretty happy. There were a lot of bonus-point wins for us. If we can look this solid later, I'll be very happy."
The Comets will have five wrestlers in today's quarterfinals -- 120-pounder Josh Gunter, 138-pounder Austin Shields, 145-pounder Zach Lake, 170-pounder Chris Cook and heavyweight Andrew Wilborn.
Both Streetsboro and Rootstown will have three wrestlers in today's quarterfinals.
Streetsboro 195-pounder Tyler Rowland continued to roll, pinning Tallmadge's Travis Darago to reach the quarters, while 160-pounder Kyle Woods scored two pins.
At 138 pounds, Chris Dynowski won a dogfight with Coventry's Keenan Davis 3-2 to advance.
"We're starting to hit the moves we've worked on," said Rockets coach Rick Charlton. "The kids are coming to wrestle. This is a district-level tournament, so it needs district-level intensity."
Rootstown All-Ohioans Zack Ladich and Travis Linton breezed to the quarterfinals, while freshman 112-pounder Dalton Lightner scored two pins to advance.
Despite this, Rootstown coach Craig Wise said he was looking for a bit more from his team.
"We have a couple of tough draws, and a couple matches got away from us," Wise said. "You've got to be ready to wrestle. You've got to have a little more desire than we showed today."
Norton also advanced three wrestlers to the finals -- 132-pounder Nick Framer, 182-pounder Dylan Whyde and 220-pounder Sean Rutherford.
Woodridge's hopes took a hit before the tournament started, as Bulldogs coach Mike Massey said starters Eric Bissonnette and Hunter Mercer each have been sidelined with injuries.
Massey rated his team's performance as "average," and he said that before 195-pounder Cody Jenkins was upset with a last-second takedown.
Woodridge did have two wrestlers reach the quarterfinals, as 113-pounder Eli Yoho and 220-pounder Mason Hiller each pinned their way to the quarters.
Given that the Dies field was loaded with Division I powers, Mogadore had a decent first day, finishing with 39 team points.
Wildcats 138-pounder Justin Chew, seeded second in his bracket, scored two points and won by injury default to reach the quarterfinals.
"We're starting to come along, even when compared to two Thursdays ago," said Mogadore coach Duane Funk. "(Chew) has been wrestling really well for us."
Kent Roosevelt coach Nic Rossiter said he was anything but happy with his team's performance. The Rough Riders were shut out of the quarterfinals when heavyweight Kyle Clarity was pinned by GlenOak's Tristan Roberts.
"We're losing matches we shouldn't lose," Rossiter said. "I only have one senior and one junior, but that's no excuse."
It was a long day for Garfield, which did not win a match in the championship bracket. Only 120-pounder Noah Heim remains alive for the G-Men in the consolation bracket.
"Just because we're young doesn't mean we're not going to battle," said Garfield coach Alan Harbert. "It's a growth thing for us."