Many view wrestling as an individual sport. This weekend’s performance by our Redmen wrestling team proved that wrestling is indeed a team sport as well. The Redmen wrestling team brought 13 wrestlers into battle at the GLC Wrestling Championships hosted at PSH. All 13 wrestlers scored team points for the host Redmen and each wrestler had a role in the team winning the conference championship.
The Conference championship is determined by performance in the 6 dual meets and the placement in the conference tournament. The Redmen lost a 3 point heartbreaker to Bay during the dual season which finished with Bay having a 6-0 record and Parma finishing at 5-1. The only way Parma could clinch a share of the GLC title would be by winning the GLC tournament title. This scenario played out last year and the Redmen hoped to duplicate the task this season as well. Pulling it off would take a total team effort though.
Heading into the finals, the Redmen held a narrow 4.5 point advantage over Bay. The performance in the finals would play the key factor in determining the championship. Watching the “Parade of Champions” at the start of the finals demonstrated why. The line-up of wrestlers was dominated by the scarlet of Parma and the blue of Bay. 27 wrestlers in the 14 weight classes were from the two schools, with 7 head to head matches being wrestled between the rivals.
With the Bay and Parma faithful enthusiastically cheering on every move and point scored in each match, the excitement and energy filled the gym as the two rivals battled like prize fighters in a boxing match exchanging blow after blow. At 106 lbs. Chris Mounts lost his match and placed 4th. After the first two weight classes, the Rockets jumped ahead of the Redmen, and the lead would go back and forth all night. The Redmen struck back with a flurry compiling the next 3 weight class champions; 120 Matthew Furman pinned his Normandy foe, 126 Daniel Devera and 132 Cameron Shumney both won by default as their opponents chose not to wrestle due to injury.
The next 4 weight classes showed just how closely matched the two powerful rivals are and also how the unlikely athlete could become the heroes of the moment. The Redmen went head to head with the Rockets in all 4 matches. Redmen Veterans Kyle Weinschreider and Gavin Ziol wrestled well but lost heartbreaking matches by decision in the last seconds of their matches and lesser experienced wrestlers, Sophomore Nick Heabler and Freshman Michael Bonus both shocked the crowd with upset wins and winning the Championships at their respective weight classes. Weinschreider and Ziol finished as runner-ups.
At 170, Austin Lauber had a key head to head victory over Bay to take 3rd place and Anthony Woldarek followed by pinning his Rocky River opponent to take the 182 lbs. Championship. At the same time, the Bay wrestler at 182 slugged back by pinning his opponent from Valley Forge on the consolation mat. With 3 weight classes to go, the Redmen had once again gained the lead. Would it be enough for the Redmen to win this slugfest between the two rivals? The Rocket upper weights have been their strength all season and the tournament proved no different. Elias Baalbaky placed 3rd at 195 for the Redmen. Bay’s outstanding 195 lbs. wrestler (who later was named conference MVP) won by fall and their 30-11 220 lbs. wrestler pinned Redmen wrestler Jacob Woldarek. Woldarek finished as runner-up. These 2 wins by pin scored 12 team points for Bay and shrunk the Redmen lead to a mere 5.5 points.
The tournament title and GLC Championship came down to the last match of the tournament. The final round of the tournament which played out like a back and forth heavyweight boxing slugfest actually would come down to the heavyweights. The only way for the Rockets to be able to jump ahead of the Redmen would be with a win by pin. With a win by Parma’s Ryan Madison or if he could avoid being pinned, the Redmen would clinch the tournament championship. This would be no easy feat for Madison as he gave up 6 inches in height and 30 pounds to the 33-10 Bay giant. With a 4-0 lead going into the 3rd period, the Bay wrestler chose top to try to secure the needed pin. With every passing second off the clock, the tension in the gym grew. As the two “Big Boys” battled, the clock finally ticked down to zero and resulted in a 4-0 loss by decision and a runner-up finish for Madison. More importantly though, the loss was what coaches often call a “little victory.” The Rockets scored the 4 placement points but did not score any bonus points and thus fell short of the Redmen 206.5 total team points. The 13 Redmen wrestlers battled and won the back and forth slugfest between the two rivals and secured the team tournament championship by finishing 1.5 points ahead of Bay.
From “BIG” wins to “little” victories, from key veterans to surprise rookies, the Redmen wrestlers worked as a team to clinch a share of the GLC Conference championship! The Conference Wrestling coaches voted Redmen Head Coach Chris Finowski as “Coach of the Year,” a much deserved honor for the first year head coach.
The Parma Wrestling program has now won back to back Co-GLC titles and 6 conference championships in the past 7 years!