Shannon Eldreth/Special to Portage Sports
By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
High school wrestling is in full swing and many of the area’s programs have celebrated quite a bit of success already.
Here is a peek around Portage County:
• The Greenmen have celebrated a dual-meet win over St. Ignatius, as well as a fifth-place finish at Solon.
- “Our team is developing and improving week by week,” head coach Jeremy Johnson said. “We have a ways to go, but we are looking to peak and building for March.”
- Next up for Aurora is this weekend’s Top Gun Tournament.
- “The coaching staff sets the bar high for our wrestlers,” Johnson said. “Our team is responding and handling adversity very well.”
- The Red Devils are 2-1 overall in duals, with victories over Holy Name and Chagrin Falls. The team featured three place-winners at the Kenston Invitational.
- 126-pound junior JP Wrobel is 21-2, and he pinned his way — all in the first period — to to a championship at Kenston. Wrobel has now finished in the top three at all three of the tournaments the Devils have competed in.
- 138-pound junior Drake Rennecker (18-6) finished in seventh place at Kenston, and he also has placed in all three tournaments, including an impressive runner-up performance at the North Coast Classic.
- Junior Gavin McIntyre (9-9) finished fifth at Kenston and earned a pair of victories over opponents he lost to last season, including pinning an opponent from Hudson that he was pinned by three times last season.
- “We are still very young and lack some experience, but the wrestlers are getting some much needed mat time at these early season tournaments,” head coach Dave Wrobel said.
- “I’m happy with the overall work ethic,” Wrobel said. “Everyone is working extremely hard and focusing on improving their technique and conditioning.”
- The Wildcats have wrestled their way to dual-meet victories over Warren Howland and Hoban.
- “We are a young team,” said head coach Duane Funk. His roster includes just one senior and one junior. “We continue to learn and get better at our technique every day. Staying health is a big challenge for us right now. I am most satisfied with the kids giving 100 percent during practices and matches.”
- “We have come a long way since our first practice this year,” head coach Eric Kline said. “Our toughness, grit and mental toughness has really improved by leaps and bounds.”
- “I am looking forward to see how our kids step up going into the second half of the year,” Kline said. “We are continuing to change Ravenna’s wrestling culture back to where we need to take it to become a great program again.”
- The Rovers’ young season already includes victories over Norton, Highland, Garfield and CVCA. The program has also won the Cardinal Invitational, the Portage County Tournament and were runners-up at the Kenston Invitational.
- Next up for the Rovers is the Bill Dies Memorial and the Josh Hephner Memorial.
- Rootstown’s roster has depth — and more is on the way. The Rovers have 30 wrestlers this season and another 12 are wrestling in eighth grade currently.
- The Rockets were runners-up at the Portage County Tournament, as well as the North Coast Classic.
- In dual meets, the Rockets are undefeated.
- “It is early still, so it is very important for our kids to learn from both wins and losses as we get into a lot of competition this month,” head coach Josh Zupancic said.
- Next up for Streetsboro is this weekend’s Top Gun Tournament.
- “We have certainly done well so far, so if we can keep getting better, I think we can have some of our best individual and team achievements in a decade or more,” Zupancic said.
- Justin Fox has started the year undefeated at 18-0 and has claimed three tournament championships.
- Aidan King has won a pair of tournament titles, while Dubin Porter, Rex Fryer and Jayden Hakin have wrestled their way to podium finishes.
- “I have been really pleased with the level our kids have been competing at and they continue to get better as the season progresses,” head coach John Foster said. “We are looking forward to being tested at some of the bigger tournaments.”
- Next up for the Vikings is the EOWL Tournament, which is hosted by Austintown Fitch on Jan. 27-28. Waterloo will also host Mogadore for Senior Night on Feb. 8.
- “I think, overall, I am satisfied by the level at which our kids compete day in and day out,” Foster said. “The level of competition in the practice room is high and that has really carried over into our matches.”