Berkshire wrestling coach Steve Orr has brought the Badgers wrestling program back in his fourth season at the helm.
Steve Orr’s dream became a reality over the weekend at Beachwood High School.
Four years ago, when Orr started his tenure as Berkshire’s wrestling coach, his goal was to turn his team of eight wrestlers into a force to be reckoned with on the conference and state level.
After winning the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title two weeks ago, the 87 Rumble last week and the 2014 Division III sectional title on Saturday, the Badgers have arrived.
“I can’t ask for more,” Orr said. “These guys really picked it up when they needed to and scored points when we needed them.”
The Badgers advanced nine wrestlers to next weekend’s Division III district tournament at Garfield Heights to beat second place Beachwood 191 ½ to 173 ½. Kirtland was third with 137, Hawken was fourth with 136 and Pymatuning Valley rounded out the top five with 129.
Berkshire led by only 9 ½ points entering the finals round on Saturday but scored four pins, two major decisions and a technical fall to extend its lead over the host Bison.
“Again, it was pins and bonus points,” Orr said. “That’s the big difference and that’s what these kids were looking to get. I’m so proud of them. They handled themselves very well on the mat.”
Berkshire’s district qualifiers included freshman John Kumher (fourth at 106), freshman Will Blechschmid (second at 120), senior T.J. Malkus (first at 126), senior Brandon VanderMaas (third at 132), senior Cody Charvat (first at 138), junior Bobby Blair (third at 145), junior Ben Blechschmid (third at 160), freshman James Speelman (second at 182) and senior Devon Stivers (fourth at 220). Junior Nate Walker (113) and senior Ryan Miller (195) both finished fifth.
Malkus advanced to the district tournament for the fourth time and Charvat won his second straight sectional title. VanderMaas collected the 100th win of his career during the tournament.
The Badgers entered the tournament with the goal of advancing to districts. Winning the sectional title was an afterthought, at least until dinner before the championship matches began.
“I tried not to focus too much about it Day 1, but Day 2, as we started going into midday I started talking about it and the kids started getting more excited and more excited,” Orr said. “When we went into the break they were all talking about the championship. That’s why we came out and wrestled hard.”
Cardinal finished in sixth place with 109 1/2 points.
Five Huskies advanced to the district tournament including sectional champions Trent and Ian Mast. Trent, a freshman, defeated Kirtland’s Brendan Williamson, 9-4, to win at 106 and Ian, a junior, pinned Berkshire’s Will Blechschmid in 2 minutes, 26 seconds to win at 120. The sectional championship was the second straight for Ian Mast and he earned his third trip to the district tournament.
Sophomore Brandon Neikirk finished second after losing to Hawken’s Louis DeMarco, 3-1, in overtime at 113 pounds.
“The Masts had a great weekend. I was glad to see them both in for first,” said Cardinal head coach Jeff Zeigler. “Neikirk, that match could go either way each time they wrestle it. I thought he wrestled strong too.”
Senior Dakota Ward rallied to finish third at 126 pounds after losing a tough semifinals match to Grand Valley’s Cody Rhoads. He beat Pymatuning Valley’s Kegen Hoopes in the consolation semifinals then scored a 17-1 technical fall over Wickliffe’s Dominic Billie in the third place match.
Senior Devon Brezo finished fourth at 152.
“I’m very pleased coming out of here with five guys,” Zeigler said. “My 152-pounder is a bit of a surprise. He’s a senior. I’m glad for him. He’s put it together. He ended up fourth but it’s a nice treat for him. Dakota Ward came back to take third after a tough loss. He struggled a little bit there but we’re still happy to get him out.”
Newbury finished in ninth place with 52 points but the Black Knights posted six wrestlers on the podium and advanced a pair to the district tournament. With no seniors on the roster, head coach Doug Ule believes his team has turned the corner.
“All six come back,” Ule said. “We don’t lose anybody this year. We’ve got two juniors that are our ‘senior’ leaders there. I’m looking forward to next year. We don’t lose anybody. Hopefully we just get more kids coming up out of eighth grade.”
In Ule’s five years at Newbury, the Black Knights have not had six sectional place winners.
That group included Ule’s son, Joe, a freshman that placed third at 182 and freshman Tom McKale, who was fourth at 170.
McKale pinned his way through the consolation bracket before dropping his third place bout to Pymatuning Valley’s Collin Winkler. In his consolation semifinals match, his go-to districts bout, he pinned returning district qualifier Mike McKeon, a senior from Ledgemont.
“Tommy McKale, he wrestled his best matches ever against Mike McKeon in the consolation semis and pulled off a victory there,” Ule said. “For a freshman, I’m real proud of him. There’s a lot of promising years ahead of him.”
Joe Ule lost in the semifinals then pinned Pymatuning Valley’s Brandon Muha for third place.
“My son at 182, he had a pretty good draw but also wrestled well his last match,” Doug Ule said. “He had good position and didn’t make mistakes.”
Visit http://smu.gs/1faopg9 for more photos of the sectional event.
Other champions included Hawken’s Alex Stotter (220), Wickliffe’s David Monturi (145), Grand Valley’s Luke Baldwin (160) and Glenn Zaller (195) and Pymatuning Valley’s Shawn Shreve (285).
Team Standings: 1) Berkshire 191.5, 2) Beachwood 173.5, 3) Kirtland 137, 4) Hawken 136, 5) Pymatuning Valley 129, 6) Cardinal 109.5, 7) Grand Valley 103, 8) Wickliffe 63, 9) Newbury 52, 10) Brookfield 48, 11) Ledgemont 12, 12) Richmond Hts 7.5
Placement Match Results:
106- (1st) T. Mast (Cardinal) dec. Williamson (Kirtland) 9-4, (3rd) B. Kitay (Beachwood) dec. Kumher (Berkshire) 8-2, (5th) Piczer (Newbury) dec. Schoenbeck (Pymatuning Valley) 6-1
113- (1st) DeMarco (Hawken) dec. Neikirk (Cardinal) 3-1/OT, (3rd) Skleres (Pymatuning Valley) pin Miglets (Brookfield) 2:42, (5th) Walker (Berkshire) major dec. Andonian (Kirtland) 18-6
120- (1st) I. Mast (Cardinal) pin W. Blechschmid (Berkshire) 2:26, (3rd) McKinley (Hawken) dec. Jahnke (Kirtland) 7-3, (5th) Miller (Grand Valley) dec. Ellis (Pymatuning Valley) 5-4
126- (1st) Malkus (Berkshire) technical fall Rhoads (Grand Valley) 18-1/3:29, (3rd) Ward (Cardinal) technical fall Billie (Wickliffe) 17-1/4:09, (5th) Hoopes (Pymatuning Valley) dec. Baratz (Hawken) 7-5
132- (1st) Gross (Beachwood) dec. Francis (Kirtland) 11-5, (3rd) VanderMaas (Berkshire) pin Tatsuoka (Hawken) 4:00, (5th) Shanower (Cardinal) major dec. Rasmussan (Grand Valley) 14-0
138- (1st) Charvat (Berkshire) major dec. Calvert (Kirtland) 18-5, (3rd) Miller (Pymatuning Valley) pin McLaughlin (Wickliffe) 2:07, (5th) Booker (Richmond Hts) dec. White (Cardinal) 4-1
145- (1st) Monturi (Wickliffe) dec. Walden (Beachwood) 11-9/OT, (3rd) Blair (Berkshire) pin Gratzl (Hawken) 2:09, (5th) Podgurski (Kirtland) dec. Flannery (Newbury) 11-5
152- (1st) Davidson (Kirtland) dec. King (Hawken) 4-3, (3rd) Sanshuck (Beachwood) pin Brezo (Cardinal) 2:13, (5th) Carroll (Wickliffe) pin Sanders (Newbury) 2:38
160- (1st) Baldwin (Grand Valley) dec. A. Kitay (Beachwood) 9-4, (3rd) B. Blechschmid (Berkshire) pin Brown (Kirtland) 1:57, (5th) Fenstermaker (Newbury) dec. Haavisto (Wickliffe) 8-2
170- (1st) Harris (Beachwood) over Jamieson (Brookfield) by forfeit, (3rd) Winkler (Pymatuning Valley) major dec. McKale (Newbury) 11-1, (5th) Porter (Kirtland) over McKeon (Ledgemont) by forfeit
182- (1st) Bialosky (Beachwood) pin Speelman (Berkshire) 2:20, (3rd) Ule (Newbury) pin Muha (Pymatuning Valley) 2:15, (5th) Whitely (Grand Valley) with a bye
195- (1st) Zaller (Grand Valley) pin O’Baker (Pymatuning Valley) 1:08, (3rd) Hackett (Brookfield) dec. Diamond (Beachwood) 4-1, (5th) Miller (Berkshire) pin Parker (Newbury) 2:47
220- (1st) Stotter (Hawken) dec. Flowers (Beachwood) 4-0, (3rd) Walker (Grand Valley) pin Stivers (Berkshire) 1:14, (5th) Wright (Pymatuning Valley) with a bye
285- (1st) Shreves (Pymatuning Valley) pin Tsou (Hawken) 0:55, (3rd) no match, (5th) no match
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