Six Mentor wrestlers advance to semifinals of D-I district at Hoover

Mar. 3—NORTH CANTON — The Mentor wrestling team picked a good day to start peaking.

The Cardinals advanced six wrestlers to the semifinal round after Day 1 of the rugged Division I district wrestling tournament at North Canton Hoover on March 3.

Those six wrestlers — Jack DeBoe (120), Diego Stropko (126), Nick Blackburn (132), Antonio Shelley (138), Joey Fumic (150) and Bear Horgan (165) — are one semifinal win away from qualifying for the March 10-12 state tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

The Mentor Six represents half of the area contingent of 11 that went 2-0 on Day 1 of the tournament and thus cliched semifinal spots when Day 2 of the tournament start at 9 a.m. on March 3. Also wrestling in the semifinal round on Saturday are Mayfield's Sal Palmisano (120), Vinnie D'Alessandro (126) and Braeden Beck (150), Riverside's David Rocha (113) and Antonio Bottiggi (215), and Chardon's Will Vucetic (165).

The rest of the area contingent will have to wrestle back through the consolation bracket in order to get into the state tournament without a ticket.

"Great day," Mentor coach Ray LaManna said after Horgan's win gave the Cardinals its sixth semifinalist, the most in LaManna's nine years at the helm. "We have asked for one more, but this is what we were dealt and it's awesome."

Mentor nearly had a seventh semifinalist, but returning state-qualifier Becan Hahn wrenched his ankle and gave up a late reversal to lose his quarterfinal match.

"These guys are all teammates and drill partners," LaManna said. "They got at it all the time. They don't give each other a break. They push each other every day."

Stropko decisioned Brecksville's Jace Jett, 4-2, which avenged a loss in the state duals. Shelley defeated Brecksville' Chase Pluhar in another rematch.

LaManna said his wrestlers came into the tournament looking for some redemption and got it.

"This time, I was smarter," Stropko said. "I stayed on my feet because I knew I could win there. Coming in, I knew I was going to see (Jett) again. I just prepared more than him."

Blackburn is in the semifinal for the first time since his freshman year after a first-round technical fall and a second-round pin. He faces Brecksville's Kaden Jett in the semis, with the winner facing the winner of Wadsworth's Jaxon Joy and Mayfield's D'Alessandro in a 132-pound class that many feel is the toughest weight class regardless of division.

Intermat's Josh Lowe has Joy ranked first in Ohio, D'Alessandro second, Jett third and Blackburn fifth.

"I'm 0-3 in the district semis and all three were against Wadsworth," D'Alessandro said. "(The weight class) is crazy, but that's Northeast Ohio for you. That's what you expect.

"I've still got to win my next match and get to the finals so I don't have to wrestle the blood match tomorrow."

One of the most competitive matches of Day 1 was Beck's 4-3 win over Walsh's Hunter Randolph, giving Mayfield three semifinalists for the first time in Coach Dwight Fritz's career.

"I'm extremely excited," Beck said. "I set the goal here last year that I'm going to get to the state tournament. That's been my wallpaper for the last 365 day. The job isn't done yet."

Nor is it for Riverside's tandem of Bottiggi and Rocha. Bottiggi injury defaulted out of the tournament with a throat issue last year, while Rocha went 1-2. Both are now one win away from a state berth.

"It feels amazing. I got my redemption from last year," Rocha said following a 17-1 thumping of Fitch's Skye Jones in the quarterfinals. "I have more confidence in my abilities from last year. I feel I've gotten a lot better."

Vucetic had a strong first day as well, with a first-round pin and an 8-2 decision in the quarters.

D-IvNorth Canton Hoover semifinal pairings

106: Rylan Seacrist, Brecksville, vs. Luke Green, Aurora; Blake Frantz, Wadsworth, vs. Emrick McBurney, Massillon Perry.

113: Johnny Green, Aurora, vs. Adom Sharpley, Solon; David Rocha, Riverside, vs. Mason Rohr, Massillon Perry.

120: Jack DeBoe, Mentor, vs. Liston Seibert, Massillon Perry; Sal Palmisano, Mayfield, vs. Jack Dinwiddie, Wadsworth.

126: Kade Mellon, Wadsworth, vs. Austin McBurney, Massillon Perry; Robert Davis, Stow, vs. Diego Stropko, Mentor

132: Jaxon Joy, Wadsworth, vs. Vinnie D'Alessandro, Mayfield; Kaden Jett, Brecksville, vs. Nick Blackburn, Mentor.

138: Antonio Shelley, Mentor, vs. Zisimos Gialits, Medina Highland; D'Vaire Van Dyke, Walsh, vs. Aric Smith, Austintown Fitch.

144: Israel Petite, Nordonia, v. Kyle Bizjak, Aurora; Nick Humphreys, Wadsworth, vs. Brock Herman, Brecksville.

150: Jake Keirn, Wadsworth, vs. Joey Fumic, Mentor; Cristian Glitz, Massillon Perry, vs. Braeden Beck, Mayfield.

157: Gino Perrino, Nordonia, v. Chris Earnest, Wadsworth; Evan Rizzo, Brecksville, vs. Andrew Supers, Medina.

165: Bear Horgan, Mentor, vs. Brandon Batson, Glenoak; Caleb Ridgley, Nordonia, v. Will Vucetic, Chardon.

175: Luke Fanadia, Brecksville, vs. Blaine Chrisman, Medina; Jeremy Olszko, Nordonia, vs. Louis Schaefer, Wadsworth.

190: Quinn Gorman, Aurora, vs. JT Hill, Stow; Coen Grimm, Wadsworth, vs. Brock Sherman, Walsh.

215: Antonio Bottiggi, Riverside, v. Mark Stankorb, Fitch; Teddy Gregory, Stow, vs. Max Vanadia, Brecksville.

285: Aidan Fockler, Massillon Perry, vs. Colten Arnold, Massillon Jackson; Roosevelt Andrews, Barberton, vs. Aaron Ries, Wadsworth.