COLUMBUS — It was another top-four finish for the Elyria Pioneers — their fourth in the last five years. It was also the fifth straight year they came up short of their ultimate goal of winning a state championship.
Elyria dominated Wadsworth 46-20 in its Division I dual team state tournament quarterfinal match Sunday, then lost 40-25 to top-seeded Cincinnati LaSalle in the semifinals at St. John Arena.
“This event is amazing, but it’s starting to get a little bittersweet coming down here and just being in the semis,” said junior Mick Burnett, who won both his matches to run his record to 14-0 in the event. “But if that’s what’s bad, you’re doing pretty good I guess. I feel we’re only headed up from here.”
Elyria (13-1) started off strong against the Grizzlies, winning the first five weight classes to build a 20-0 lead.
Elyria’s Peyton Fenton grinded out a 3-0 decision against fellow freshman Mason Brugh in the opening 106-pound match, then teammate Bryce Allison picked apart Mikey Lewarchick for a 9-4 win at 113.
“Last year here, I got majored. I wanted to come back and have a better match this year,” Allison said. “I went out there expecting bonus. My coach was telling me to get out there and get the major.”
Freshman Nate Burnett followed with a 2-1 win over Landon Hacker at 120 — earning the win when Hacker was tagged for a technical violation for head scissors — Dylan Shawver pinned Hunter Griffin in 47 seconds at 126 and Mick Burnett scored a 16-0 technical fall over Logan Scandlon at 132.
“Man, winning the first five weights was key,” Mick Burnett said. “That put us in a good position the rest of the match up 20-0. After that, we just kind of let if fly. They made some adjustments, we made some adjustments … and it worked out in our favor.”
Wadsworth (13-3) ended the run with three straight wins — Luke Baughman got an overtime win over Matt Zuckerman at 138 before Jacob Walsh and Michael North earned pins at 145 and 152.
“We were expecting a couple of wins at the beginning for sure,” North said. “It’s tough to come back from 20-0. Some people started getting down and started doubting and we fell from there. That’s the best team we’ve faced by far. You can’t make any mistakes on them.”
Elyria rolled off five straight victories after Wadsworth pulled to within 20-15, clinching the opening dual win on Ben Doehr’s technical fall over Logan Shiarla at 182.
“I just went out there and wrestled my match and I did my thing,” Doehr said. “Coach always tells us, ‘Good momentum, never bad momentum. Always focus on your match.’ When you’re on a roll like that and guys are winning like that, it feels really good going out there (onto the mat).”
It was a reversal of fortune against the Lancers, as Elyria dropped the first three matches and found itself in a hole.
Shawver ended the run with a 9-1 major decision over Antoine Allen, Mick Burnett followed with an 8-4 win over Casey Wiles and Zuckerman brought the crowd to its feet with a 5-3 win in triple overtime against Jake Niffenegger.
“(Overtime is) amazing,” Zuckerman said. “It makes the match more entertaining. The crowd, the coaches, the teammates, the other team — when you’re going into overtime it’s like … this is when it starts, this is what it comes down to. One mistake could change the team score.”
It was Zuckerman’s 20th and final dual team tournament match.
“Last match ever in this gym, last dual meet with this team … I just left it all out there on the mat,” he said. “When he went down (position), I had a lot more confidence because I love that (up) position. When I heard that ref go, ‘One, two …’ (for the nearfall count) that was an amazing feeling … just to come out of this place with a win in my last match.”
LaSalle won five of the final eight matches — with Enrique Munguia (160), Jake Evans (170) and Andrew Levis (220) getting wins for Elyria — to clinch the dual win.
“(LaSalle) did a better job of wrestling at the edge of the mat, scoring last in the period, things like that. They did a better job of getting bonus points then we did,” Elyria coach Erik Burnett said. “But the effort was there. Our guys, when they walked in this morning they were prepared. They got their rest last night, they took care of themselves, they were ready to go this morning and that meant a lot to me as a coach.”
The Pioneers finished as the dual team state runner-up in 2016, and won three straight runner-up trophies at the individual state tournament from 2015-17.
With a lineup stacked with state-ranked wrestlers — and two nationally ranked wrestlers — the program that’s ranked No. 27 in the nation was hoping to finally break through.
“You have to be optimistic, you have to think it’s going to happen, but we just keep going,” Erik Burnett said. “We work as hard as we can and you’re hoping that one of these years, one of these tournaments, we’re going to make it on top. But we’re going to keep grinding regardless.”
Elyria 46, Wadsworth 20
106 — Peyton Fenton (E) dec. Mason Brugh, 3-0. 113 — Bryce Allison (E) dec. Mikey Lewarchick, 9-4. 120 — Nate Burnett (E) dec. Landen Hacker, 2-1. 126 — Dylan Shawver (E) pinned Hunter Griffin, :47. 132 — Mick Burnett (E) tech. fall Logan Scandlon, 16-0. 138 — Luke Baughman (W) dec. Matt Zuckerman, 4-2 (SV). 145 — Jacob Walsh (W) pinned Izzak Pedrazza, 1:39. 152 — Michael North (W) pinned Dillon Hendricks, 3:15. 160 — Enrique Munguia (E) pinned Dom Loparo, 3:31. 170 — Jake Evans (E) dec. Jon List, 4-2. 182 — Ben Doehr (E) tech. fall Logan Shiarla, 16-1. 195 — Lewis Aguilar (E) pinned Jamisen Jackson, 2:26. 220 — Drew Levis (E) pinned Mason Beal, 1:07. 285 — Zach Linn (W) pinned Alexander Lowery, 4:22.
** Wadsworth lost a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Cincinnati LaSalle 40, Elyria 25
106 — Cole Skinner (CL) dec. Fenton, 4-2 (SV). 113 — Dustin Norris (CL) maj. dec. Allison, 10-2. 120 — Lucas Byrd (CL) maj. dec. N. Burnett, 24-11. 126 — Shawver (E) maj. dec. Antoine Allen, 9-1. 132 — M. Burnett (E) dec. Casey Wiles, 8-4. 138 — Zuckerman (E) dec. Jake Niffennegger, 5-3 (UTB). 145 — Darnai Heard (CL) pinned Pedrazza, 5:28. 152 — E’lan Heard (CL) pinned Hendricks, :34. 160 — Munguia (E) dec. Chase Stein, 9-5. 170 — Evans (E) won by forfeit. 182 — Ronald Sizemore (CL) pinned Doehr, 1:17. 195 — Michael Baker (CL) tech. fall Aguilar, 18-2. 220 — Levis (E) pinned Josh Brogden, 1:10. 285 — Robert Brown (CL) pinned Lowery, 1:41.