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Solon pair lead way to state in wrestling
Solon pair lead way to state in wrestling
By TONY LANGE
While Solon had a number of heartbreaks at the Division I Mentor District tournament last Saturday, the Comets still managed to advance three wrestlers to the big dance in Columbus this weekend.
Brandon Thompson, 113 pounds, and Anthony Collica, 145 pounds, are returning after claiming state titles in lower weight classes a year ago, while Justin Kresevic, 160 pounds, will make his first trip.
Also out of the Mentor District, Kenston's Matt Olson will be representing the Bombers at 170 pounds.
Meanwhile, in the Division II Alliance District, Orange's Hunter Auletta, 195 pounds, will represent the Lions, and Chagrin Falls' Ricky Kochert, 160 pounds, will represent the Tigers.
Solon finished fifth overall at last Saturday's 47-team district tournament, with Thompson and Collica claiming championships and Kresevic finishing as runner-up.
Kenston was 17th overall, with Olson placing third.
Division I wrestlers are scheduled to begin their preliminary rounds at 5:45 p.m. March 1 in the auxiliary gymnasium of Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center.
Solon head coach Tony DiGiovanni said, while the Comets advanced three wrestlers, they were hoping to get a handful more to the state tournament this year.
"We definitely had some disappointments, and that's what happens all the time," he said. "You want to get your borderline kids, and this year we didn't get any borderline kids. And that hurts a little bit."
Thompson, Collica and Kresevic, who did advance to the state tournament, are as naturally talented as wrestlers get, DiGiovanni said.
Thompson pinned his opponent, and Collica had a 9-1 major decision against his opponent to claim district titles, while Kresevic finished as runner-up.
"Well, when you take thoroughbreds to states, you can do a lot of damage," DiGiovanni said. "And we're taking three thoroughbreds."
Last season, Solon took three wrestlers to states, including Thompson and Collica, who claimed titles at 103 pounds and 130 pounds, and the Comets finished sixth overall in the state.
"We're always there to take out the interest on all the time, effort, heartache and pain," DiGiovanni said. "Everything we've done this year is like putting money in a bank, and this weekend we're going to withdrawal and collect."
Kresevic, who was injured all last season as a junior and was a state alternate as a sophomore, will be making his first trip to the tournament.
"After I won my semifinals match at districts, it was a great feeling, but, at the same time, I didn't feel surprised," he said. "I knew I had to put in a lot of extra time, and it just feels good to see it all paying off. I was under the radar all year, and a lot of people underestimated me, so it just feels good to keep shocking the wrestling world, and I hope to continue to keep doing that."
During the sectional tournament, Kresevic lost, 3-2, to Boardman's Nico Graziani in the semifinals, and, during districts, Kresevic lost, 5-3, to Graziani in the championship bout.
Collica was in that position last season as he got pinned by Mayfield's Mike Carlone in the district finals but went on to beat Carlone, 7-6, in the state championship bout.
"My coach said it best," Kresevic said. "He said losing that match at districts could be the best thing that's ever happened to you, because I learned what beats me and what I have to do to beat that kind of style."
Meanwhile, Kenston senior Olson, also will be wrestling at his first state tournament.
"After qualifying, now I want to place -- really badly," he said. "I want to place high in the tournament."
At the district tournament, Olson finished third after losing to Mayfield's Connor Murray in the semifinals bout.
"Well, it was close match. I was down my three points in the third period, and right at the end I tried a move to try and win the match, and I ended up giving up more points," Olson said. "The kid was strong. I guess it was a bit of an eye-opener, but I know I had to come off that loss and just keep fighting through."
Earlier this season, Murray wrestled at 182 pounds before cutting weight to 170 pounds for the postseason.
"It's like a reality check that I got beat. It makes me stay focused and keeps me knowing what I'm working hard for, so I just have to work hard to beat kids like that," Olson said. "Being able to represent Kenston feels really good. I feel proud that I'm able to do that. I'm happy that I'm able to do it, because the school has given a lot to the wrestling team."
Chagrin Falls' Kochert, 160 pounds, and Orange's Auletta, 195 pounds, will begin their Division II preliminary rounds at 4:15 p.m. March 1.
During the district tournament, Kochert finished fourth overall after losing his third-place bout to Ravenna's Tylor Brokaw.
At state, which includes 16 wrestlers in each weight class, Kochert, who has a 30-8 record, will take on Hillsboro's Kordell Ford, who has a 40-3 record, in the opening round.
Meanwhile, Auletta, who has a 37-6 record, will face Norwalk's Jake Alexander, who has a 36-4 record, in the opening round.
At districts, Auletta finished as runner-up after getting pinned by Lake Catholic's Jimmy Szep (28-6) in the championship bout.
Prior to that, Auletta pinned his way through sectionals without giving up a point and won his first three district matches, 4-0, 5-0 and with a pin, before he got pinned himself.
"Before that loss, I was not scored on during the whole postseason," he said. "The fact that I got scored on and I lost in the district finals match, it gave me a reality check that I'm not going to waltz by everyone. I'm going to have to go through a tough road to get to that state title, and you know what, this silver medal is just going to burn inside of me until I get to the state and achieve my goals."
Auletta is the first Orange wrestler to qualify for states since 2001.
"It's great for my school, because it's the first time Orange had a qualifier in a long time, and it's just great to bring that to Orange, and I hope to bring a title to Orange," he said. "People say your first time at states you get awe-struck, but one thing about me is I'm totally fine with it. I'm up for it. There's only one way I can lose, and that's if I beat myself. I feel like I'm prepared for thousands and thousands of people screaming in the arena, and it will not faze me."
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