Buckeye secures spot in Div. III semifinals

PINNING — Buckeye Local’s Charles Smith wrestles Toronto’s B.J. Pearson in a 160-pound match on Wednesday. Smith won via pinfall. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

CONNORVILLE — The Buckeye Local wrestling team picked up a pair of wins Wednesday night on its home mat in the Ohio Division III, Region 21 quarterfinal team duals to do something that the program has not done in a long time — advance to the regional semifinals/finals next week.

The Panthers defeated a shorthanded Steubenville Catholic Central squad, 51-21, then turned around and came back to knock off Toronto, 45-36, to sweep Wednesday’s matches. Edison withdrew.

“It’s a great thing for the program,” Buckeye Local coach Willie Saxton said. “The last time was way back in the early 2000’s when they made the top four. I was young and watched that happen.

“To move on the first time for me coaching is great. These kids poured their hearts out for this, and it is amazing. It’s a great feeling and great for the school. This program was once called non-existent, and now we are on the rise and restoring that pride that was once here.”

Saxton’s squad has come a long way in a short time.

“We’ve come along tremendously,” he said. “Just last week at OVAC we had two placers. I couldn’t be more proud of the progress. Big things are coming once we mature even more. We have a lineup full of sophomores and freshman.

“Coming off of grueling three-day tournament and doing this, I couldn’t ask for any more than what they did tonight.”

The match with the Crusaders was largely decided by forfeits as Central was able to bring just five wrestlers to Connorville. After the first four matches were decided by forfeit, Buckeye Local’s Tyler Donahue pinned Central’s Ian McKenna in 3:20 at 138 pounds.

Mike Irvin scored a pin in 3:28 for Central over Seth Richardson. After another forfeit, Buckeye Local’s Charles Smith scored his first of two wins on the night by defeating Michael Herrmann by decision, 5-0.

“We needed it and deserved it,” said Smith, a sophomore who finished seventh in the OVAC tournament at 160 pounds. “After all the hard work we put in we deserved this. We had two tough teams to start off the first rounds of this, and it is just going to get harder from here on. It is crazy because we are such a young team. At the beginning of the year, we weren’t looking so hot.

“It is just because of our hardwork and staying together as a team. We’ve put in extra work, even after practice, and motivate each other.”

After one more forfeit went the way of the Panthers, the Crusaders took victories in the final two matches.

Kevin Cuervo, fresh off a seventh place showing at the OVAC tournament, pinned Alexio Morales in 1:25 at 220 pounds.

“We had some bright spots,” Cuervo said. “We saw some things that we obviously need to work on. Coming off big-time wrestling like (the OVAC’s), you just have to come in humble and do what you need to do.”

Richard Montelione closed the match with a decision win over Nick Jones, 5-4.

“We saw a lot of things at the OVAC tournament that we pointed out to him that helped him get that win today,” Central coach Aaron Henry said. “He got off the bottom twice. His experience there helped him.”

Henry saw a lot of brightspots coming off of the OVAC tournament last weekend.

“There were some matches that showed a lot,” he said. “Today was okay. We had a couple guys out but there were some promising matches. Coming out of the OVAC’s there are some things that we have to really focus on.

“We had some guys out. We’re trying to build our program back up, that is the biggest thing for us. We’ve got to keep working hard.”

The Red Knights got off to a 36-6 lead in the second match of the night, but the Panthers took the last 39 points to pull off the sweep.

After a forfeit win in the first match, Toronto’s Doug Whitman pinned Jordyn Spencer in 2:38 at 113 pounds.

Brian Palmer put the Panthers on the board by pinning Zach Close with just five seconds left in the opening round at 120 pounds, before Toronto won the next four.

Garrett Dozier pinned Travis Light in 43 seconds at 126 pounds. The Red Knights got a forfeit at 132 pounds. Kyre Smith pinned Donahue at 138 pounds in 1:15. Jess Fulton then pinned Richardson at 145 pounds in 3:56 to give the Red Knights a 30 point lead.

“It was a good match,” Toronto coach John Parker said. “We matched up well with them in the lightweights. We wrestled hard and we are going to keep improving. Give Buckeye credit, they came back and won the weight classes they needed to win.”

Then the Panthers started rolling.

Skylar Hatten got it started at 152 pounds by pinning Clayton Yarosz in 2:31. Smith then pinned B.J. Pearson 31 seconds into the second round after nearly earning the pin, and almost getting pinned himself, in the first round.

With Toronto set to forfeit all but one of the remaining weight classes, it set up a 170 pound match to decide a winner. Jack Reese, wrestling for the first time in about a month due to a shoulder injury, gave the Panthers the victory by pulling out a 15-9 decision in a grueling match that had three seperate stoppages for blood.

“He hasn’t wrestled in over a month and came out and got a big win for us,” Saxton said. “It came down to that one match and he pulled off a win. Just over a month ago he popped his shoulder out and we’ve been rehabbing it and taking it easy on him.

“We felt like if we didn’t have to put him out there we weren’t going to but if we needed to we would and he was ready to step up.”

Toronto and Central will look to get back on track on Saturday when they wrestle in the Buck Bailey Tournament at Wellsville.

Next up for the Panthers will be Newcomerstown in the semifinal at a site to be determined next Wednesday.

“I’m proud of all of them,” Saxton said. “Even the ones that lost came out and wrestled hard. I could not ask for a better group of kids than the one I have. Big things are about ready to happen here.”

Buckeye Local 51, Catholic Central 21

106: Nate Loot (CCHS) by forfeit

113: Jordyn Spencer (BL) by forfeit

120: Brian Palmer (BL) by forfeit

126: Travis Light (BL) by forfeit

138: Tyler Donahue (BL) pin Ian McKenna (CCHS) 3:20

145: Mike Irvin (CCHS) pin Seth Richardson (BL) 3:28

152: Skylar Hatten (BL) by forfeit

170: Charles Smith (BL) dec. Michael Herrmann (CCHS) 5-0

195: Zac Cesario (BL) by forfeit

220: Kevin Cuervo (CCHS) pin Alexio Morales 1:25

285: Richard Montelione (CCHS) dec. Nick Jones (BL) 5-4

Buckeye Local 45, Toronto 36

106: Joseph Savage (T) by forfeit

113: Doug Whitman (T) pin Jordyn Spencer (BL) 2:38

120: Brian Palmer (BL) pin Zach Close 1:55

126: Garrett Dozier (T) pin Travis Light (BL) 0:43

132: Chris Parker (T) by forfeit

138: Kyre Smith (T) pin Tyler Donahue (BL) 1:15

145: Jesse Fulton (T) pin Seth Richardon (BL) 3:56

152: Skylar Hatten (BL) pin Clayton Yarosz (T) 2:31

160: Charles Smith (BL) pin B.J. Pearson (T) 5:18

170: Jack Reese (BL) dec. Christopher Aubrey-Biggie (T) 15-9

182: Shayne Christian (BL) by forfeit

195: Zac Cesario (BL) by forfeit

285: Nick Jones (BL) by forfeit