Local wrestling powers collided at the Northwest Division II sectional wrestling meet and St. Vincent-St. Mary and Coventry were intent on emerging victorious.
The battle lines were drawn. Local wrestling powers collided at the Northwest Division II sectional wrestling meet and St. Vincent-St. Mary and Coventry were intent on emerging victorious. Both sides have been dominant forces in Summit County wrestling for years, and entering the meet, St. V-M coach Anthony Gary threw down the gauntlet to Coventry coach Keith Shinn.
“Anthony Gary said to me that he will not lose another sectional championship to Coventry, so I knew they were coming in prepared,” Shinn said.
Gary’s team proved him correct, winning the sectional title with 240 points, but Coventry, seeking to defend its sectional title from 2012, was close behind in second place with 196. The Comets may have settled for 2nd place, but they sent eight wrestlers on to the district meet and registered three individual champions, with two of their sectional champions winning as freshmen.
Senior Brandon Pavlich led the way with the 160-pound title and freshmen Tucker Pearce (106) and Jerek Cropper (195) also wrestled their way to titles.
“Tucker Pearce, who has been consistent all year, and Jerek Cropper at 195 tech pinning his opponent in the championship was very impressive, especially as a freshman,” Shinn said. “Brandon Pavlich coming back from a season full of injury and heartache and earning his first sectional championship of his career really reminds me why I put my time and effort into this program.”
Senior Travis Gosnell suffered a tough finals defeat in the heavyweight class and settled for 2nd, as did junior Evan Chenot at 170 pounds. Gosnell raised his record to 43-5 with a school-record 34 pins. Third-place finishes for sophomores Josh Gunter (120) and Zack Lake (138) and a fourth place result for sophomore Randy Brady rounded out the list of district qualifiers for the Comets.
Shinn made it clear that the success was not only expected outside the program, but within it as well.
“Winning is what is expected and 100 percent effort is what is expected,” he said. “We knew that we had to wrestle our best to be able to compete with a state power like St.Vincent-St. Mary’s, and I’m not one of those coaches that shies away from the private schools. I truly feel their excellence makes programs like ours constantly strive to get better. My wrestlers did not disappoint me on their effort.”
Heading into the meet, Shinn said the Comets kept their preparations just as they had been throughout the season. Their focus remained on intense live wrestling and “in-your-face” drills, combined with work in their regular strength and conditioning program. The result was all 12 of the team’s wrestlers placing at sectionals, even though only four finished in the top four to secure a district berth.
Shinn cited two tough battles with Portage Trail Conference rival Crestwood as a key part of preparing for the sectional meet. The Comets won the regular-season matchup with the Red Devils but lost the conference championship meet by one point (190.5 to 189.5).
Page 2 of 2 - Heading into the district meet, there are plenty of impressive records on Coventry’s ledger.
Lake (42-8), Cropper (39-9 with 30 pins) and Gunter (38-11) all have a chance to join Gosnell in the 40-win club. In other words, a new year is simply more of the same for Coventry wrestling.