West Geauga wrestlers enter new year with KIT performance boost – News-Herald
Momentum is a good thing to have in the world of sports.
West Geauga’s wrestling team have a ton after finishing the 2021 calendar year with a best third place finish in the region at the 55th annual Kenston Invitational tournament.
The Wolverines had three champions – 106-pound Ty Boze, 138-pound Jack Sparent and heavyweight Lucas Sadler – and a runner-up (150-pound Justin Artino) to finish with 126.5 team points. Ontario (155.5) and Fairfield (139) were the only teams to finish ahead of West Geauga in the 28-team field.
The solid performance is exactly what freshman coach Carmen Russo was looking for heading into 2022. What makes the team’s performance even more impressive is that the Wolverines were shorthanded, with wrestlers in just 10 of the 14 weight categories.
“It was awesome,” Russo said. “We only had 10 because of the kids traveling on vacation or being in bad weather. But having 10 and placing six with three champions and a runner-up is great. We scored a lot of points.
Boze won a 6-1 decision over Sneh Patel of Fairfield for the 106-pound title. Boze is 14-0 heading into the new year.
“He wrestled really well,” Russo said. “He was very aggressive in the semi-finals and in the standing final. It’s something we wanted to establish, the tempo on its feet. He’s one of the most explosive wrestlers I’ve trained since I was 15.
Sparent made a 10-3 decision over Boardman’s Dom Vennetti for the 138-pound crown. Sparent has just completed a junior year in which he was a Division II usher and has focused this offseason on his offense.
“Jack is definitely trying to broaden his offense,” Russo said, noting Sparent’s three pins ahead of his 10-point Championship game. “He works on little things like hand fighting, setting up punches and awareness of the mat. He has some great training partners who really push him.
Sparent is also entering the new year with a 14-0 record.
Sadler ran the glove for his heavyweight title, beating Kenston’s Cale Doyle by pin in the semifinals and then ahead of Chardon’s Alex McDonald, 8-3, in the final.
Sadler (14-1 this season) has been a verifiable wrecking ball throughout the tournament, with 32, 40 and 49 second pins leading up to the showdown with McDonald’s.
“It’s really nice to have someone like Luke as a heavyweight,” Russo said. “He suffered a heavy loss in the Sharpsville duels, but he bounced back against two good wrestlers in the semi-finals and the final.
“The guy from Chardon (McDonald) is athletic and explosive. It was a great victory in the final.
Russo said he is excited to see how the team develops over the year. The Wolverines are in action Jan. 8 at the Richfield Revere Duals.
“We say our targets are very high,” he said. “Everything we do is in preparation for the (state) duels in February and for the individual playoffs. The name of the game is thinking, studying cinema and being open-minded and adapting to change. If you do this good things will happen.
As a first-year head coach, having taken over from coach / athletic director Ben Stehura, change is part of the game.
But Russo brings a wealth of experience to the program. Most recently he was an assistant coach at Grove City (Pa.), Where he helped produce two state qualifiers.
He also coached for six years in Conneaut Lake, Pa., With a 70-32 record. He had eight state qualifiers and three state winners at Conneaut Lake.
Russo wrestled at Thiel College, majoring in elementary education with a minor in psychology.
He is currently working as a counselor at Youngstown State University.
When Russo’s hiring was announced, first-year athletic director Brandon Stewart trumpeted the move as a home run.
“We are delighted that someone with Carmen’s wrestling knowledge and experience is leading our wrestling program,” Stewart said on the school’s website. “His passion for the sport and his dedication to the student-athlete experience became very apparent during the interview process. It was important for us to find someone who could lead this talented group and continue to develop our program. “
Early results, the most recent being the Wolverines’ success at KIT, suggest the program is on the right track heading into the second half of the season.
“The potential is there. The coach has to bring out the talent, ”said Russo. “I think we do a better job of doing it. I believe in responsibility, structure and discipline. When you have that kind of approach and that connection between the coaches and the kids, they can reach their full potential.
Learn more about the KIT
Besides West Geauga’s strong performance, other News-Herald wrestlers who won championships at KIT were Will Davidson of Kirtland (138), Ethan Smith of North (157), Brennon Braud of Kirtland (190) and Antonio Bottiggi of Riverside (215).
Smith, who wrestled his first three years at Lake Catholic, was named KIT’s Most Valuable Wrestler.
While West Geauga were the best team in the region, the others in the top 10 were Kirtland (sixth), Madison (ninth) and Riverside (10th).