North will send four wrestlers to the Division I District wrestling tournament at North Canton Hoover High School on Friday and Saturday.
Joseph Davis, Derick Martinez, Gabe Meros, and Joey Nowosielshi each placed among the top four at the Wadsworth sectional tournament last weekend to extend their seasons by at least one more week.
“I was really happy,” said North coach Anthony Grim. “I thought all the guys really showed up and wrestled well.”
Davis, a senior, opened the sectional tournament with a disappointing 5-4 loss to Maple Heights’ Charles Curtis but rallied back for a third-place finish at 113 pounds.
“I thought he could have won that first match,” Grim said. “It was an early morning for us and a long bus ride and I think that kind of got to him more mentally than physically. He didn’t really show up for the first match like I know he can. I thought he should have been in the finals but he came back and got third.”
Davis, who improved to 12-4, bounced back with a pin and two decisions in the consolation bracket to earn his district berth.
He’ll open the district tournament against Massillon Washington junior Jonah Hofner, who is 17-9 on the year.
Martinez, a sophomore, placed fourth at 126 pounds.
He lost in the quarterfinals and drew a bye into the consolation semis, where he pinned Barberton’s Damon Swiger in 4 minutes, 19 seconds.
Martinez fell to Nordonia’s Matthew Hamad in the third-place match, 7-1.
He enters the district tournament with an 11-5 record. He drew Brecksville sophomore Brock Herman (19-3) in the first round. Herman is ranked third in the state.
Meros, a senior 132-pounder, used a 14-1 major decision to reach the semifinals round at the sectional tournament. He was pinned in that round but bounced back with a 7-4 win in the consolation semifinals before falling in the third-place match.
At 11-5, Meros will open the district tournament against Uniontown Lake senior Ben Sponseller (16-4). Sponseller is ranked 13th in his weight class.
Nowosielshi also placed fourth.
He used a 6-4 decision to advance to the semifinal round at 152 pounds. There, he fell to eventual champion Nick Humphrys of Wadsworth, 5-2. He then pinned his way into the third-place match but lost, 4-2.
Nowosielshi enters the district tournament with an 11-6 record and will face a daunting task in the first round as he drew Brecksville senior Victor Voinovich.
Voinovich, a 2018 state champion and a third-place finisher in 2019, is the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds. He already has committed to continue his education and wrestling career at Oklahoma State.
“That’s no fun task for anybody,” Grim said of Nowosielshi’s matchup. “I’m a 31-year old man and I don’t know if I’d want to go wrestle him.”
Senior John Kropf narrowly missed out on earning a district berth as he finished fifth at 138 pounds.
He pinned his way into the semifinals but dropped that bout and then suffered a 7-6 loss in the consolation semifinals. He won his fifth-place match by pin and will be a district alternate. He would be added to the bracket if any of the top four wrestlers from his sectional are unable to compete at the district tournament.
“That was a heart-breaker,” Grim said of Kropf’s consolation semifinals bout. “He lost his match to go to districts with 16 seconds left. He gave up a takedown and just couldn’t get the escape. He wrestled back and got a fifth. Like I told all of them, it’s Corona-season; anything can happen.”
Junior Nick Beck also finished fifth after he won a pair of matches in the consolation bracket at 182 pounds.
“I thought everyone wrestled phenomenally,” Grim said. “We beat some guys that a lot of people wouldn’t expect us to beat on any given day so that was really nice.”
Owen Sanders placed sixth at 170 pounds and Kailey Lesler-Harrold (106), Justice Gluck (120), Dylan Young (145), and Nick Springer (195) all went 0-2.
With four district qualifiers and two alternates, the Rangers are in a position to send their first wrestler to the state tournament since Kenny Hoberney qualified in 2013.
“I think we’re more than ready to go and compete out at Canton,” Grim said. “I feel like we’re bringing four and I think every single one of them has an honest to God shot to make it to the state tournament this year. As a coach, I like to go through everything and play out every possible scenario in my head. I think if we show up and we wrestle the same way we wrestled at Wadsworth then we should definitely be bringing a couple of guys down to the Columbus area, which will be nice. It will be the first time in a long time.”