Blue Devils defend Valley Division title

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Jack Brocco

Independence won six individual championships in finishing second overall at the 2018 Chagrin Valley Conference wrestling tournament.

The Blue Devils finished with 165.5 points and won their second straight Valley Division title.

“I’m really proud of how we wrestled,” said Independence coach Ken DeAngelis. “We put six guys in the finals and all six won with bonus points. That’s more champs than we’ve ever had before. It was awesome to repeat as CVC Valley champions.”

DeAngelis felt confident the Blue Devils could compete for the overall title but Geneva, who finished with 183 points, was too deep and placed 11 wrestlers among the top six.

“We thought we had a chance to win the conference outright but we just couldn’t stay in front of Geneva,” DeAngelis said. “I think it really shows how far this program has come that our goal is not to just win the Valley Division, but win the whole thing. That bar keeps getting raised.”

Michael Kucera (126), Jack Brocco (145), Nick Rossi (152), Nick Mrocyznski (170), Luke Clymer (195) and Josh Stasek (285) all won championships while Collin Patton finished sixth at 106.

Rossi and Mroczynski, who was named Valley Division MVP, both won CVC titles for the second time.

“We thought we could have six champs and these guys didn’t disappoint,” DeAngelis said. “It was exciting to watch Michael, Nick Rossi, and Nick Mroczynski go out and pin their way through the tournament. Jack is an exciting wrestler and can put on a show when he opens up and I sometimes forget that Luke is only a sophomore. He wrestled like a seasoned veteran. It was great to see Josh win in such dominating fashion in the finals against a quality opponent.”

Kucera pinned all four of his opponents with none lasting past the middle of the second period.

“I was pretty happy with winning the tournament,” Kucera said. “I also think I did good with being aggressive with hand fighting and escaping on bottom. It for sure boosts my confidence and makes me feel that I can compete with high-leveled kids.”

Brocco went 3-0 with two technical falls and a major decision.

“I was pretty satisfied,” Brocco said. “I didn’t wrestle my best but I was getting pretty tired in the third period, so I need to work on my warmup and conditioning more. It is a good confidence booster for my team and I, but I have a lot of work to do if I want to make it down to Columbus and end up on the podium.”

Rossi was 3-0 with three first period pins.

“I was very happy,” Rossi said. “I think I need to improve more but overall it was good day.”

Mroczynski also pinned his way through the tournament.

“I wrestled very well today,” Mroczynski said. “I went out and tried to score first and be aggressive. This tournament helped build momentum toward sectionals and districts; it also helps me see what moves work on quality kids.”

Clymer went 3-0 with two pins and a 5-3 overtime decision in the semifinals.

“It was very satisfying to win especially with a first period pin (in the finals),” Clymer said. “I have a lot of improving to do but I wrestled much more aggressively this tournament, which should help for this year’s postseason.”

Stasek finished 3-0 with two quick pins and a major decision in the championship round.

“I feel that I wrestled really well,” he said. “I came out and pinned my first two opponents and avenged an early season loss with a 9-1 major decision against Hawken. I just came out and wrestled hard. If I don’t pin my guy, I’m scoring as many points as I can. I want to score bonus points to help my team. I feel strong after my performance today and I intend to keep building my momentum going into the postseason and making a run for Columbus.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.