Elyria's Armando Torres comes up short in state title match

JEFF FORMAN/THE NEWS-HERALD Elyria’s Armando Torres, right, wrestles Brecksville’s Aaron Assad in the Division I 113-pound championship match Saturday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Torres lost the match.

COLUMBUS — This one is going to sting for a while.

Saturday night, Elyria’s Armando Torres was 20 seconds away from winning the 113-pound state championship for Division I. That’s when Brecksville’s Aaron Assad finally made his move. Assad scored a takedown of Torres to take a 4-3 lead which he held on to until the clock ran out.

It was the first time Assad had led the entire match.

“It was like hanging on by a string there at the end, especially leading by just a point,” Torres said. “I was hoping that maybe I could at least get another takedown and secure the match. It happened at Dies too; I was up by a point, with maybe 10 seconds left; I couldn’t hold him off there either. I just needed to put together a full six minutes.”

It was the fifth time the two had met this season, with Assad taking all five meetings by a total of six points.

“Armando does a really good job of slowing me down,” Assad said. “I like to wrestle at a high pace, and he’s good at that.”

Assad — a four-time state-placer — said he felt Torres was a little tighter in the championship match than he had been at any other time this season.

“I thought he was a little tight and nervous from the start of the match,” Assad said. “It was his first time down at states. It was my fourth time here. I was already in the state finals. I went out there thinking he was going to be nervous, as it was. I wanted to use that to my advantage.”

In 2011 furing his sophomore year, Assad faced eventual four-time state champion Nathan Tomasello, of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA, and lost, and said he knew exactly what Torres was feeling.

“I was especially nervous going against a guy like Tomasello,” Assad said. “I actually had a lead on him, and I was really freaking out. That’s kind of how Armando was tonight. You get nervous out there if you haven’t been there before.”

Torres looked good early in the match, scoring the first points on a takedown near the edge of the match just before time expired in the first period. He deferred to start the second, and Assad took the down position.

Torres was able to keep him down for close to a minute before Assad finally scored an escape to cut the lead to 2-1. Before the end of the period, Assad was given another point after Torres was penalized for stalling.

“I had that stalling call, so I was trying not to back up,” Torres said. “He’s really good at pushing into you to make it look like you’re stalling.”

At the start of the third period, Torres picked down and Assad conceded a point for the escape prior to the start of the period to start the period with both wrestlers in the neutral position. Torres held on as long as he could, but unfortunately for him it just wasn’t long enough.

“Early on in the match I was moving my feet really well,” Torres said. “Looking back, I probably should have used that a little more in the third period. I just had to go at him, but I just couldn’t fend him off in the end.”

For Assad, finally breaking through to win a state title in his senior season was a dream come true.

“Oh man, it feels great,” he said. “I play a lot of sports, and winning at the highest level in those sports does not compare to how this feels.”

For Torres, the heart-breaking loss will sting for quite some time, but Elyria coach Erik Burnett thinks it could very well push him to get even better in his senior season.

“I’m sure a couple days later Armando will be able to look back on this season as a success,” Burnett said. “Right now, he’s not looking at it like it was a success. That’s how winners think.”

@MJ_smahoney

Last Updated: 3/2/2013 11:43:08 PM EST

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