Merry Christmas, Portage County wrestling fans.
Heading into the holidays, a couple of results took place that point to possible changes coming the Portage Trail Conference power dynamics.
Last Thursday at Akron Springfield, Ravenna’s early season uprising continued — partially at the expense of Metro Division hopefuls Streetsboro.
The Ravens pulled out two close wins over defending division co-champion Woodridge 37-33 and Streetsboro 32-31.
Both matches came down to the final bout for the Ravens. Against Woodridge, 182-pounder Jon Hester was the hero, getting a pin in overtime (6:42) to give the Ravens the win.
The victories build on Ravenna’s success at the Hudson Holiday Tournament, as Ravenna improves to 2-1 in the division. Having already faced defending division co-champion Norton, the Ravens could be favored in the final four division dual meets (Springfield, Coventry, Cloverleaf and Field).
Remember, dual meets count for half of the PTC’s overall championship.
Also last Thursday, Rootstown showed it still has a grip on the County Division, compliments of a 44-27 win at Mogadore.
That said, do not sleep on the Wildcats in the coming years. Mogadore coach Duane Funk said his sophomore and freshmen classes might be two of the best ever to come through Mogadore.
Freshman Jacob McHood was a junior high state placer last year and could be in line for a state run at 126 or 132 pounds. After a huge football season with the Wildcats, freshman 182-pounder Tyler Knight could have a bright future on the mats as well. Freshman 220-pounder Michael Lowe and sophomore heavyweight Zach Lowe could be the backbone of the upperweights for years.
Of course, keep in mind Mogadore’s lone returning state qualifier is sophomore Nick Skye, who is back at 152 pounds this year.
While the Wildcats are looking to the future, the present remains strong for the Rovers. It should be noted Rootstown won the Mogadore match without starters Trent DuVall and Chris Anderson.
Meanwhile, Rootstown sent its top wrestler to one of the biggest tournaments in the country this past weekend. Caleb Edwards, Niko Chilson, Chris Langguth and Ryan Boyle made the trip to the University of Delaware to grappled at the Beast of the East Tournament Friday and Saturday.
Chilson had to forfeit his matches, but the Rovers’ trio earned a respectable 42 points to finish tied for 43rd overall at the Beast. Boyle earned a fourth-place finish for the Rovers, winning three straight consolation matches before losing a tight 3-2 decision in the third-place match to Jake Kaminski of Wyoming Seminary, Penn.
Speaking of tournaments, the primary concern for many area wrestling coaches — other than making sure wrestlers don’t break their weight classes due to holiday feasts — are holiday tournaments.
With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year, many local will get to test their mettle in large tournaments this Friday and Saturday.
A sizable contingent of locals will head just north to the 54th Kenston Invitational Tournament. Rootstown will join the fun this year, along with Crestwood, Field, Ravenna and Southeast.
The field at Kenston has improved in recent years. I look for the Rovers and Red Devils to be in the team title race, but defending champion Nordonia likely is the favorite.
The granddaddy of holiday tournaments is the 58th annual Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament, where Aurora is headed this weekend. The field at the BIHT is loaded with Division II state powers, so the Greenmen should get a good test.
Meanwhile, Mogadore heads to the Coshocton Holiday Classic Wrestling Tournament, facing a field of East Ohio powers. A top five finish for the Wildcats would be a good result.