Prior to the Northern Buckeye Conference Championships, everything for Genoa wrestling was focused on the team.
Now, it’s OK for the Comets to think about themselves first. Max Reeder, Drew Keenan, Jake Fejes, Mike Snider, Jay Nino and Cody Buckner each earned a Division III sectional championship to advance to districts today.
“They’ve accomplished a lot as a group,” Genoa coach Bob Bergman said. “They push each other. We have kids who have won matches under duress for the team and now they have to win matches under duress for themselves. We’ve seen them do it many times for their teammates.
“We preached team, team, team all year and now it’s their time.”
Fejes earned his first sectional title.
“He came up short in the NBC final getting pinned so it was exciting for him,” Bergman said. “He lost a close match in the sectional finals last season. He wanted that and it was nice to see him get it as a senior.”
Buckner earned his first championship of any kind at heavyweight.
“He’s got a chance to get out this weekend,” Bergman said. “Those were highlights.”
Nino is steadily emerging as an elite wrestler.
“He’s coming into his own, maturing and wrestling well,” Bergman said. “As a sophomore, he’s our youngest champ.”
Ryan Szymanski, Brandon Bates, Seth Morrison, Dustin Widmer and Damian D’Emilio also qualfied to districts.
“He’s come a long way this year,” Bergman said of Bates. “He’s a sophomore. He’s 41-21. He had a lot of those losses up at 132 (before ultimately moving down two classes to 120). If you look at photos, his face is always black-and-blue.
“He finds pain. He had a cut on his face and we called him ‘Scarface’ most of the year. He got a black eye Saturday in his match and another (from an accident off the mat). He’s a brute and a hustler. He had a losing record the first part of the year and wasn’t at .500 until after the holidays.”
Thomas Schnittker and Evan Ulinski were sectional champs for Woodmore. Colten Datkun, Tony Rozzi, Dylan Young and Seth Gaghen also moved on.
Danbury’s Jonathon McClellan also advanced.
Division II district wrestling
Oak Harbor’s Luke Cramer has always wanted to be better than brother Jake at whatever the contest.
Jake finished second at state as a senior and fifth as a junior. Luke, who earned a sectional title this season to advance to today’s districts, finished fourth in Columbus as a junior last season.
“I’ve grown in size and in hunger to do better this year,” Cramer said. “My brother jokes with me to do better than him. It’s always been a personal goal to beat him. I work in the summer traveling and training … it’s paid off.
“I give credit to my dad (Jim). He always pushes me to do extra and the coaches are there going the extra mile treating me like a son.”
Cramer wrestled at 138 as a junior but is all the way up to 170.
“The smaller weights are faster but I carry some of the techniques with me. I can scramble. I can wear out bigger kids. I’m not the biggest 170 pounder but I can move and people say I’m strong but I think it’s more knowing how to move a person.”
Cramer has accomplished two of his three goals for the season by placing at Ironman (eighth) and finishing in the top two at Medina (second). “I want to get to the top of the (state) podium. I know I’m there and if I wrestle how it’s possible I can’t be stopped.”
Endurance is one of Cramer’s strengths. “I had a good weekend (at sectionals). In the finals, I knew it would be close. He made a mistake and I countered. It’s good to get experience reacting in tough matches.
“The team had a good weekend, too.”
TJ Lawrence earned a sectional crown while Jared Chambers, Jeremy Balboa, Ben Petersen, Alec Bowlick, Brody Henning and Josh Chambers also advanced.
Port Clinton’s Zach Wheeler and Tristen Mallory will also compete at districts.
“Brody is a sophomore,” Cramer said. “Lawrence is a sophomore heavyweight. Him winning sectionals was big. That will help him drive himself mentally. Eight of us made it and you can see improvement.”
Also helping spur all the Rockets is Hunter Gresh. Gresh tore his ACL and MCL, fractured his arm and incurred bruises and cuts that required stitches in a car accident a few weeks ago.
“We’re glad he’s safe,” Cramer said. “We want him to get better and we’re wishing he was there. That drives all of us a little to win for him.”