INDEPENDENCE—Independence’s wrestling team opened the season over the weekend with five dual meets against some of the area’s top teams.
The Blue Devils finished the weekend with a 1-4 record but, more importantly, the team had the chance to compete during these uncertain times.
“I was just excited to get on a mat and see a different school and have a referee,” said Independence coach Ken DeAngelis. “We knew it was going to be rough because our schedule has been flipped upside down. Friday, we had like seven different teams scheduled to come in but we ended up with Walsh (Jesuit) and Revere, and those are two teams we don’t normally have on our schedule but our guys got matches. We can’t get better unless we’re getting on the mat and wrestling other schools. We were excited to compete.”
Independence lost to Revere, 51-25, and dropped its match against Walsh Jesuit, 45-30. The Blue Devils did pick up a 48-36 win over Fairview on Friday.
On Saturday, Independence fell to North Royalton, 51-28, and to Uniontown Lake, 65-15.
Brian Vollman finished the weekend 5-0 with five pins, despite being limited in the preseason by a soccer injury.
“He looked really good out there,” DeAngelis said. “As a senior, he decides to go out for soccer for the first time and played on the varsity team. He had a knee injury so he’s been battling through that. He’s come a long way in just over two years of wrestling and he’s starting to figure some things out. His athleticism and his skill level are starting to match up a little bit. He looked really good this weekend.”
Rory Corrigan was 5-1 with a pin and a major decision to his credit.
“He was wrestling at 182 and 195 for us,” DeAngelis said. “He’s going to be our 170-pounder when he can get down based on his hydration (test). He just wants to wrestle. He said, ‘Coach, put me wherever you need me. I just want to get on the mat.’”
Collin Patton and Ethan Ciurlik both finished 3-3 with two pins.
Patton may have had the most difficult weekend of all as he faced two opponents who are ranked among the top 10 wrestlers in the state in Division I.
“He had a brutal route,” DeAngelis said. “On Friday, he wrestled (Nolan) Frye from Walsh, who we’ve seen at Cuyahoga Heights for years. He’s ranked No. 3 in the state in Division I. Today, the kid he wrestled from Uniontown Lake was ranked No. 10 in the state in Division I, so those are two of his three losses. He just competed.”
Ciurlik had been focused on playing football but DeAngelis finally convinced him to join the wrestling team.
“He got a win on Friday and a win today,” DeAngelis said. “I told him, ‘I don’t know how wrestling is going to work out for you but I guarantee it will make you a better football player.’ I expect a thank you letter from (football) coach (Rick) Adams at the end of the season.”