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By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
At the start of the tournament, Rootstown wrestling coach Craig Wise said his team goal was to take a top-10 place at the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament.
How does a top-five finish sound?
Rootstown claimed fifth place with 151.5 team points, earning the Division III team title at the Dies. Coventry finished seventh with 141.5 points.
Elsewhere, Norton finished 11th with 117.5 points, while Streetsboro was 15th with 98 points and Woodridge finished 19th with 90.5 points.
Brecksville dominated the team race with 324.5 points to win its sixth straight Dies title. Canfield was second with 190 points.
Needless to say, Wise was ecstatic with his team's performance.
"We had a great day today," Wise said. "There were a lot of great wins for the Rovers."
Once again, senior 182-pounder Travis Linton led the charge for Rootstown, as he won his weight class.
Linton's opponent in the final was Parma's Mike Lewis, who gave Linton a scare earlier this season at the Paulie McGhee Invitational hosted by Aurora High School. There was no such drama this time, as Linton took an early 5-0 lead and went on to win a 10-3 decision.
"I wasn't going to run my boots this time," Linton said. "Being able to get that 5-0 lead was pretty important. Everyone's coming after me this year. It's good to be No. 1."
"Lewis is a tough kid," Wise said. "He's only got two losses this season and both of them are to Travis."
Rootstown had another finalist in 160-pounder Zack Ladich. Ladich had bulldozed his way to the title match, but in the final, Ladich was completely stymied by undefeated Kollin Moore of Norwayne. Moore won the match 16-4.
"We've got to go back to the drawing board with that kid -- or switch weight classes," Wise said. "Other than that, Zack had a great weekend."
Rootstown also got a fifth-place finish from 152-pounder Luke Sorboro, a sixth-place finish from 113-pounder Dalton Leightner, a seventh place from 120-pounder Tony Paolucci and an eighth-place finish from 138-pounder Jason Sadler.
Coventry was able to finish in the top 10 despite not have any wrestlers in championship matches. Coventry's top finisher was 145-pounder Zach Lake, who won 3-1 in the third-place match.
"Let's use the word 'content' for this weekend," said Coventry coach Keith Shinn. "We had a really good first day. I have no true big guns, but everybody wrestled up to standards today. What we have to clean up now is the one-point losses and last-second losses. That would give us eight placers instead of four."
Woodridge only had two wrestlers in placement watches, but both of them were in the title match.
At 113 pounds, freshman Eli Yoho was up late, but a takedown in the last 10 seconds by Brunswick's Ethan Rivera gave him the 2-1.
At 220 pounds, a possible preview of next weekend's PTC Tournament final took place when Woodridge's Mason Hilling ran into Norton's Sean Rutherford.
It didn't last long. Rutherford scored the pin in 23 seconds.
"He wasn't messing around," said Woodridge coach Mike Massey. "Sean's on another plain. We knew that. Mason had a great weekend before that. Eli's young. He's got his whole career in front of him."
Norton coach Gene Leonard said his team did "pretty well," though he was hoping for a few higher places.
Norton also got a fifth-place finish from 132-pounder Nick Farmer and seventh-place finishes from 170-pounder Mike Dyer and heavyweight John Glas.
Streetsboro 195-pounder Tyler Rowland survived an overtime bout in the semifinals to reach the title match versus Brecksville's Josh Murphy.
However, Rowland had no answers for the Brecksville All-Ohioan and lost 20-6.
"Give credit to the Brecksville kid. He's a very good wrestler," said Streetsboro coach Rick Charlton. "Tyler is continuing to wrestle well and learn."
Streetsboro 138-pounder Chris Dynowski also reached the semifinals, but a shoulder injury forced him to default down to sixth place. Kyle Woods took eighth place at 160 pounds.
Mogadore's Justin Chew had a very solid tournament, reaching the final at 138 pounds. In the final, however, Chew was unable to get his offense going, as he lost 7-2 to Brecksville's Sonny Lucas.
"He's showing a very young team how it's done," said Mogadore coach Duane Funk. "He wrestled the full six minutes. This is good for him. It gets us ready for the tournament at the end of the year."
Kent Roosevelt and Garfield did not have a place-winner.