Salem, West Branch, Minerva fall short

Salem’s Caiden Hart wrestles West Branch’s Tyler Hicks in a 113-pound match during the OHSAA regional duals Saturday at Alliance. (Salem News/Gary Leininger)

ALLIANCE –West Branch defeated Salem 58-21 in its opening bout Saturday but was eliminated in the next round by Steubenville 40-28 in Div. II Region 12 wrestling action at Alliance High School.

Winners by pin for West Branch against Salem were Christian Wayt (120), Jonah Thomas (132), Brock Wilke (145), Gage Bickley (152), Steven Marra (160), Colin Lawniczak (170), Neil Ginnetti (182), Kenny Marra (195) and Jacob Hurst (285). Winning by major decision was Thomas Caserta (138).

Winning by pins for Salem against West Branch were Tony Seddon (106), Caiden Hart (113) and Sam Murray (220), while winning by a decision was Jacob Frost (126).

Salem coach Drew Hart said Saturday’s rugged regional was a learning experience for his young team.

“Our numbers are up extensively from last year,” said Hart. “We have not had to give up a forfeit in any dual meet this season, so we’re moving in the right direction but we’re still a young team, mostly freshmen and sophomores.”

Winning by pins for West Branch in its loss to Steubenville were Tyler Hicks (113), Kenny Marra (220) and Jacob Hurst (285). Winning by major decision was Christian Wayt (120) while winning by decisions were Alex Courtney (106) and Steven Marra (170).

“We kind of scouted Big Red through the week,” said West Branch coach Chris Dorris, “and we knew realistically we only had one move to try to match up with them and we were hoping we weren’t going to give up bonus points, but when you give up bonus points to a team like that it’s hard to come back from.

“We probably had five of the best teams in the state at this tournament and I think we were one of those five best teams.”

Beavers off to Columbus

In the storied history of Beaver Local wrestling, the Beavers have accumulated enough individual and team awards to fill a museum.

But on Saturday in Alliance High School’s Harry Fails Gymnasium, the Beavers took it to another level by winning the Division II, Region 12 title and advancing to next Sunday’s state dual team tournament — becoming the first Columbiana County team to do so.

The Beavers punched their Columbus ticket with a 51-21 dismantling of another outstanding team, the Louisville Leopards, in the regional final Saturday afternoon before a large following of Beaver Local fans that made the trip to Alliance.

“I’m so proud of them and this program,” beamed Beaver Local coach Jordan Williams. “This is a good win for us and this program and our kids deserve all the credit, they work hard.”

“We were fired up and ready to go,” explained Beaver Local 126-pound standout Cole McComas, who was one of nine victorious Beaver matmen against Louisville. “We were wrestling for each other, we weren’t just wrestling for ourselves. We knew what we had to do to win and we got fired up and went out and did it,” he added.

Beaver Local will be one of the Division II teams competing at the state dual team tournament next Sunday at historic St. John Arena in Columbus starting at 11 a.m. with the quarterfinals.

The Beavers (10-1 on the season) opened the regional tournament Saturday morning with a 69-12 romp over Akron Hoban followed by a 55-12 rout of Minerva. The Beavers then recorded a very satisfying 38-30 revenge win over a Canfield team that handed them their only loss in a controversial decision earlier this season.

That win vaulted the Beavers into the final against Louisville, which had bested Steubenville 39-30 in its semifinal.

“Our kids have so much respect for Louisville,” said Williams, a former standout wrestler himself at Beaver Local. “So for us to come out and compete says a lot about what our kids do on a daily basis to prepare and be great, and the credit goes to these guys.”

To say the Beavers were pumped up on Saturday for a chance to make history and advance to state would be an understatement. The Beavers wrestled a flawless finals match against Louisville, winning the first seven matches, including four by pin, to take a commanding 35-0 lead after the 145-pound class.

“We’ve had a good year so far, unfortunately both of our losses have come to Beaver Local,” said Louisville coach Rocky Laughlin.

“Obviously we didn’t wrestle well, but this is a tough region.”

In all, the Beavers tallied six pins against the Leopards, but the one that set the tone of what was to follow was the 1:10 pin by Beaver Local freshman phenom Logan Ours over Louisville’s Garett Lautzenheiser, ranked second in the state in Division II.

“Lautzenheiser’s loss was a big loss because that was between the number-two and number-three ranked kids in the state,” said Laughlin.

Other Beavers winning by pin in the finals were Jaymin Salsberry (106 pounds), Mark Emerling (113), Cole McComas (126), Logan Krulik (160) and Brenden Severs (170).

“It feels great (to be going to state),” said McComas. “Beaver Local has really great tradition in wrestling and to be the first team to do it feels really great.”

“At 106, 113 and 120, those guys started us off right,” said Williams. “We just got on a roll. That win (by Logan Ours) at 120 catapulted us to big things in this match. Ours prepares the right way because he’s got high goals and he knows how to reach them.”

Earning triumphs by major decisions were Jonathan Potts (132), Skyler Lasure (145) and Beau Smith who became Beaver Local’s all-time individual record holder for wins with a staggering 156 triumphs.

“I’ve had great coaches and teammates pushing me,” said Smith. “It’s awesome (to be going to state as a team). We work so hard and to be able to go with all of my friends is really awesome.”

“When you have a senior leader like that with (Beau Smith) it meshes everything together and makes everything work,” praised Williams. “And that’s where it starts with our senior leadership with a kid with 156 wins. Our seniors have busted their butts for four years for this program to be where it’s at and and this program is reaping a lot of rewards.”

Winning by a decision for the Beavers was senior Jared Wright (138), who also won his 100th career match earlier in the tournament.

Leading 51-3 and with its Columbus berth secured, the Beavers forfeited the last three matches to Louisville at 195, 220 and 285.

Williams said the Beavers’ great preparation in the wrestling room and competing in an incredibly tough region will prepare them well for state.

“This region had the No. 3, 4 and 5 teams (in Ohio) and was brutal,” explained the Beaver Local coach. “Our goals are simple, we want to be at the top when it’s all said and done. There’s going to be some great battles next week and to our kids’ credit, they embrace that and are looking forward to the opportunity.”

“It (going to the State Duals) just adds on to an even better high school experience, it’s up there and really awesome,” added Smith.