OREGON — If doubt crept into the mind of Amherst senior heavyweight Matt Lee, he never let it show.
A week after suffering his first loss of the season, Lee was back in the 285-pound final at the Maumee Bay Classic at Clay High on Saturday night. Lee pinned his way to the championship match — including first-period wins over state-ranked opponents in the quarterfinals and semifinals — but found himself facing Bedford (Mich.) senior Austin Emerson for the title.
Emerson is a returning state runner-up, four-time Fargo national All-American and is ranked No. 6 in the nation by FloWrestling.
Despite the impressive resume, Lee fought off Emerson’s attacks through a scoreless first period, latched on to the big man early in the second and put him to his back for the pin.
“I was just like, ‘Holy crap,’” Lee said. “It’s an amazing feeling. I wasn’t expecting to pin him like that. I wrestled smart and once I got that lock-in in the end it was game over. I had it super low, I was able to take him right to his back and stick him.”
While Lee was celebrating the biggest win of his career, the Elyria Pioneers were hoisting the team trophy after a dominating debut at the Toledo-area tournament.
Elyria finished with a pair of champions, six finalists and eight placers to nab a 213.5-184 victory over runner-up Wauseon.
The Pioneers wrapped up the title early as their first two finalists — sophomore Dylan Shawver at 113 pounds and senior Brendon Fenton at 120 — faced Wauseon opponents and came away with major decision victories.
“That was huge,” Fenton said. “We both matched up with Wauseon kids and we both got bonus points, so that was good. I knew we had a 20-point lead coming in (to the final round), but anything can happen so we wanted to keep putting the points up.”
Shawver, who is ranked No. 2 in the state in Division I, dominated the competition all weekend, finishing with an 11-2 win over Gavin Ritter, who is ranked No. 3 in Division II, in the final.
“My coach told me to go out there, score a lot of points and put on a show … and that’s what I did,” Shawver said.
Shawver was happy the Pioneers decided to switch from the Bill Dies Memorial, which was canceled due to bad weather, to the Northwest Ohio event.
“I liked it because at Dies we normally see the same people, so here we can switch it up and see different competition,” he said.
Fenton was equally impressive in dispatching each opponent that stepped onto the mat with him. He wrapped up his title with a 9-1 win over Alex Slattman, who is ranked No. 11 in Division II at 126 pounds.
“I haven’t really got to show off as much as I wanted to this season, so I felt like I wanted to come here and just practice my new stuff I’ve been working on — my shots, heavy hands and stuff like that,” Fenton said. “So, it feels good.”
Elyria’s four runners-up were Mick Burnett at 126, Josh Breeding at 132, Matt Zuckerman at 152 and Farouq Muhammed at 152. Suffering early losses Friday before battling back for third-place finishes Saturday were freshmen Enrique Munguia at 145 and Jake Evans at 170.
Pioneers coach Erik Burnett was grateful for the championship trophy, and even more grateful that his wrestlers saw action this weekend.
“I thought we were super lucky,” he said. “We’ve always liked the Dies tournament, but we were just looking for a change this year, to see some different teams. Coming out here, with the twist of fate with the weather, this worked out great for us.
“The confidence in the kids right now is growing, both individually and as a group. That’s what you hope for after the grind of the first month of the season.”
The area’s other placer was Vermilion senior Tyler Bath, who took fourth at 220 pounds.
But the area spotlight was firmly on Lee, who lost to a two-time state placer from Pennsylvania in the Perry Pin City final last week and didn’t want to suffer the same fate against his Michigan opponent.
“I thought it was going to be a close match,” Lee said. “I was looking at the seeds on Thursday and I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be a tough outing for me.’ It’s definitely one of my best tournaments and something I’m going to cherish for a long time.
“Last weekend just motivated me to work harder, and to be able to come back and get this win. … It’s just back to normal now.”
TEAM STANDINGS: Elyria 213.5, Wauseon 184, Oregon Clay 182.5, CVCA 121, Bedford (Mich.) 109.5, Medina 109.5, Findlay 102, Delta 98.5, Butler 95, Berea-Midpark 87.5, Central Crossing 84, Chippewa Hills (Mich.) 84, Versailles 81, Mount Vernon 77.5, Kettering Fairmont 76.5, Amherst 74, Indian Lake 73, Uniontown Lake 62, Solon 59.5, Anthony Wayne 59, Maumee 55, Archbold 53, Loveland 52.5, Olentangy Orange 51.5, Toledo Whitmer 51.5, Perry 48, Patrick Henry 47, Tiffin Columbian 46, Sandusky 45.5, Mayfield 43, Newark 43, Wapakoneta 42, Northridge 41, Vermilion 39.5, Fremont St. Joseph 35, Springfield (SW) 30.5, Sylvania Northview 29, Swartz Creek (Mich.) 26, Fairview 19, Toledo Christian 12, Massillon Washington 11, Northwood 11, West Carrollton 9.5, Sidney 7, Holland Springfield 7.
106 — FIRST: Jacob Moon (Oregon Clay) dec. Kyle Rowan (Perry), 9-4; THIRD: Shane Heil (Berea-Midpark) dec. Noah Ross (Central Crossing), 9-3; FIFTH: Caden Scarbrough (CVCA) dec. Zack Mattin (Delta), 10-5.
113 — FIRST: Dylan Shawver (Elyria) maj. dec. Gavin Ritter (Wauseon), 11-2; THIRD: Jack Haskin (Toledo Whitmer) dec. Matt Williams (CVCA), 5-1; FIFTH: Matt Verdes (Vandalia Butler) dec. Richard Mendoza (Loveland), 4-0.
120 — FIRST: Brendon Fenton (Elyria) maj. dec. Alex Slattman (Wauseon), 9-1; THIRD: Jake Canitano (Solon) def. Jared Dressler (Medina) by forfeit; FIFTH: Kyle Maville (Oregon Clay) dec. Cade Sutterfield (Bedford), 7-3.
126 — FIRST: Cole Mattin (Delta) dec. Mick Burnett (Elyria), 4-2; THIRD: Nolan Ray (Wauseon) maj. dec. Mike Daly (Oregon Clay), 13-2; FIFTH: Klay Reeves (Northridge) def. Bailey Suddeth (Vandalia Butler) by injury default.
132 — FIRST: Jordan Decatur (CVCA) pinned Josh Breeding (Elyria), 3:52; THIRD: Ronnie Pietro (Vandalia Butler) dec. Caden Blust (Tiffin Columbian), 4-2; FIFTH: Devin Wood (Central Crossing) dec. Preston Platfoot (Versailles), 5-2.
138 — FIRST: Hunter Yackee (Wauseon) dec. Matt Zuckerman (Elyria), 5-3; THIRD: Mason Hayes (Chippewa Hills) dec. Ian Senz (Medina), 12-5; FIFTH: Max Neiling (Patrick Henry) dec. Conner Liber (Sylvania Northview), 5-3.
145 — FIRST: Gavin Grime (Archbold) dec. Garret Anderson (Oregon Clay), 5-3 (SV); THIRD: Enrique Munguia (Elyria) dec. Benjamin Douglas (Findlay), 5-0; FIFTH: Connor Evans (Olentangy Orange) dec. Justin Schneider (Maumee), 9-6.
152 — FIRST: Sandro Ramirez (Wauseon) dec. Farouq Muhammed (Elyria), 4-1; THIRD: Neil Antrassian (Bedford) dec. Boston Dubocq (Findlay), 7-1; FIFTH: Hunter Thornsberry (Newark) pinned Billy Fleming (Mayfield), 2:08.
160 — FIRST: Jaden Mattox (Central Crossing) dec. Nevan Snodgrass (Kettering Fairmont), 4-1; THIRD: Forest Belli (Northridge) dec. Troy Murphy (Oregon Clay), 7-2; FIFTH: Sean-Michael James (Uniontown Lake) pinned Ethan Silvis (Medina), 4:48.
170 — FIRST: Brady Chrisman (Medina) maj. dec. J.D. Osborn (Delta), 19-7; THIRD: Jake Evans (Elyria) dec. Ethan Cyrette (Vandalia Butler), 1-0; FIFTH: Xavier Torres (Wauseon) dec. Colin Jagielski (Bedford), 8-2.
182 — FIRST: Conner Dixon (Indian Lake) pinned Ryan Haas (Maumee), 5:48; THIRD: Jacob Meek (Oregon Clay) dec. Sam Hunter (Sandusky), 4-2; FIFTH: Trent Davis (Wauseon) dec. Hunter Gandee (Bedford), 5-1.
195 — FIRST: Ashton Spurgeon (Mount Vernon) pinned Dylan Rogers (Delta), 1:06; THIRD: Zach Bryant (Findlay) pinned Wil Morrow (Patrick Henry), :56; FIFTH: Gage DeHart (Versailles) dec. Josh Nagy (Oregon Clay), 3-1.
220 — FIRST: Breslin Walker (CVCA) pinned Noah Price (Fremont St. Joseph), 6:41; THIRD: Evan Kaeck (Wapakoneta) dec. Tyler Bath (Vermilion), 6-4 (SV); FIFTH: Billy Koepf (Chippewa Hills) def. Brandon Phillips (Maumee) by forfeit.
285 — FIRST: Matt Lee (Amherst) pinned Austin Emerson (Bedford), 2:46; THIRD: Michael Mather (Uniontown Lake) pinned Nick Daly (Oregon Clay), 2:51; FIFTH: Lance Clapp (Swartz Creek) dec. Cole Ragan (Anthony Wayne), 6-3.