OHSAA Wrestling Team Tournament a resounding dud

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS — Last Wednesday, wrestling programs around the state were excited to be part of history as they participated in the opening rounds of the inaugural OHSAA Team Wrestling Tournament.

A week later ... eh, not so much.

Both Lorain County teams scheduled to wrestle in the Division I Regional Semifinals at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School bowed out Wednesday night.

Elyria fell to Parma 44-33, and Amherst withdrew from the tournament a few days prior, giving host Brecksville the win by forfeit.

Amherst wasn’t alone, as many teams around the state were rumored to have pulled out of the tournament to concentrate more on the coming conference tournaments, many of which are this weekend.

“We’re a little banged up. We’ve got a couple injuries we’re nursing,” Amherst coach Brian Cesear said. “We just wrestled Brecksville last week in a dual, and we’re going to see them again at our conference tournament this weekend. It just didn’t make a lot of sense for us to wrestle. We have to do what’s best for the team.”

Last Thursday night, Brecksville showed why they’re ranked in the top five in the state, as well as ranked nationally, by defeating the Comets 46-16 in a dual meet.

Even though Elyria wrestled Tuesday night, it certainly didn’t bring its A-game, or A-team for that matter. The Pioneers held out three of their top wrestlers in Armando Torres, Brandon Egnor and Connor Kamczyc.

To fill the holes in their lineup, Elyria coach Erik Burnett had to move a number of the remaining wrestlers on his team to other weight classes.

Despite not having a full lineup, the Pioneers were in the match almost until the very end. Still, the story of the night was the obvious flaws in the state’s team tournament.

“You’re trying to focus on the end of the year and get guys ready for March,” Burnett said. “That’s what played into here. You want to win every match, but a lot of times your goals individually supersede what’s going on in January.”

The timing of the tournament has been an issue for many coaches and wrestlers around the state.

High school wrestlers in Ohio have been looking at the individual state tournament in Columbus as the ultimate achievement for years now. Anything that can upset their schedule of preparation for that achievement is quickly put on the back burner, which is exactly what the team tournament has done for many.

One of the main problems is having the tournament take place on Wednesday nights, which means wrestlers have to be ready for another weigh-in in the middle of the week, which can disrupt their schedule and training for a weekend weigh-in.

“The kids already have to make weight a lot, and some kids don’t lose any weight and other kids do,” Burnett said. “It’s just the matter of having another weigh-in tonight, and then turning around and having another one Friday. That can make things a little bit difficult.”

Even without some of their top guys, the Pioneers did have some bright spots in the evening.

Senior Alex Parker moved up from his usual spot at 145 to wrestle at 152. He responded to the challenge by pinning Parma senior Patrick Juhn in 2:36.

“The coaches always know what’s best for us. Obviously, they have a plan,” Parker said. “As a wrestler you’re made to wrestle. You have to do what you have to do. I just went out there and wrestled the match like I was wrestling at ‘45. It made no difference to me.”

Freshman Ben Darmstadt also moved up, from 120 to 126, and earned a 20-6 major decision over Chayse Csongedi, a junior.

“We could have easily won that match tonight. We had chances where we should have gotten bonus points, but instead we gave up bonus points,” Darmstadt said. “I’m an example of that. I got lazy on top and only got a major instead of maybe a tech or a pin.”

Despite the flaws in the tournament, area coaches still think the tournament has its place.

“The first year that you do something, there are going to be flaws,” Cesear said. “The idea is obviously a great one, for the sport and promoting it. I think they need to do a better job keeping certain teams out of the same region, especially if they’re in the same conference. They need to move it up earlier in the season. To wrestle a dual on a Wednesday and then make weight for your conference tournament that weekend is tough.

“In Ohio the emphasis has been on the individual tournament for so long that it’s hard to look at a brand new tournament as being that important.”

@MJ_smahoney

Last Updated: 1/30/2013 11:24:04 PM EST

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