On paper, second-year Genoa wrestling coach Bob Bergman knows he has a pretty good team this season.
The Comets, who took third in the Northern Buckeye Conference last season behind Elmwood and runner-up Eastwood, return five individuals who had more than 30 wins apiece last season. Genoa, which also returns seven district qualifiers, was picked by the coaches to win the NBC title this season. They are off to a good starting, routing two-time defending champion Elmwood 57-18 and defeating Fostoria 55-15 in league action. Genoa made quick work of the Royals by winning 9 of the 11 matches wrestled and pinning in five of them. In total, the Comets recorded 11 falls on the night. Senior Seth Morrison extended his winning streak to 6-0 on the year
|Genoa wrestler Ryan Szymanski (top) helped the Comets start the league
season 2-0. (Press photo by Harol Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
“We feel it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Bergman said. “We’re not putting a whole lot of gravity on (the conference voting) just yet. We should be fairly competitive. We have to get a little better every day. We have six seniors, and that’s the most we’ve had in 10 years.”
Genoa hasn’t won a league title since 2003, when Bergman, the league champion at 140 pounds, Ryan Keaton and Mike Widmer led the Comets to the Suburban Lakes League crown.
The Comets opened this season with a third-place finish last Saturday at the Oak Harbor Invitational.
“It was a good challenge for us,” Bergman said. “We wrestled pretty well. A lot of improvements need to be made this week because we have a short week. We have some things to correct.”
Genoa traveled to Rossford on Tuesday to compete against the host Bulldogs, Elmwood and Fostoria. They also compete at the 10-team Archbold Duals on Friday and Saturday.
This year’s Genoa lineup has a good mixture of youth and experience. Freshman Damien Demilio won the 106-pound title at the Oak Harbor Invitational, going 4-0 with three pins.
“He did a great job,” Bergman said. “He was the league champ as an eighth-grader. He’s very pleasantly surprised by his performance last weekend. We didn’t know what to expect, but he got the most team points.”
For now, two other freshmen, Dakota Diekman and Anthony Lopez, follow Demilio at 113 and 120 pounds, respectively. Diekman placed fifth at Oak Harbor. Bergman said sophomore Brandon Bates will eventually wrestle at 120. Bates was 32-17, took third in the NBC and qualified for the district tournament last year.
Oak Harbor Invitational champion Seth Morrison will compete at 126 after winning 27 matches a year ago. The senior is a two-time district qualifier who placed third in the NBC last year.
“He wrestled some great kids at Oak Harbor and really had a good showing,” Bergman said.
Max Reeder, a junior who was a state qualifier two years ago, will compete at 132 pounds. He won the NBC title at 126 last year and took sixth at districts.
“He is hands down our strongest wrestler, pound for pound,” Bergman said. “He’s lightning quick and has a positive attitude. A real team player.”
Junior Nathan Moore, who had a 31-18 record last season and took third in the NBC at 132, is tentatively bumping up to 138 pounds.
“He’s very much improved from last year,” Bergman said. “He spent a ton of time at camps and clinics, and it shows. He’s trying to cut down to 132.”
Senior Drew Keenan had the most wins on Genoa’s roster last season, going 40-10 and taking second in the NBC. Keenan is a two-time district qualifier.
“The sky’s the limit for Drew,” Bergman said.
Senior Ryan Szymanski will wrestle at 152.
“He had about a .500 record and did not place in our league, but he placed sixth in the district,” Bergman said. “He is probably our most cerebral and smartest kid. He has a lot of ‘farm’ strength and is really good on top, and he wears kids down.”
Two more seniors, Jake Fejes (160) and Mike Snider (170), will follow Szymanski. Fejes went 30-14 at 152 last season, is a two-time district qualifier and placed third in the NBC, while Snider qualified to districts and won 24 matches.
Senior Nick Vizi, who was injured most of last season, and sophomore Tyler Baird will vie for the spot at 182 pounds.
“They match up pretty well,” Bergman said.
Sophomore Jay Nino will look to build on last year’s effort, when he took third in the NBC, qualified for districts and took sixth at the Medina Invitational.
“He’s a real special wrestler,” Bergman said. “He went 38-15 last year as a freshman in a man’s weight class. He has very quick feet. He’s going to be a special athlete.”
The starter at 220 will be determined between junior Nick Herrick, a transfer from North Carolina, and junior Lucas Apel. Herrick had a knee injury last year and did not wrestle.
“We’re real excited to have him,” Bergman said. “He’s about 6-3, 230 pounds right now and was a huge help for the football team. We’re tickled pink he’s on our team. Lucas is a talent as well. They’ll be sharing dual time and helping the team out as best they can.”
Cody Buckner, a junior, and sophomore Louis Cutchall will compete at 285. Buckner was a district qualifier and was the conference runner-up at 285 last spring.
“They’re both just toe-to-toe with each other,” Bergman said. “They’re great kids and they feed off each other.”
Genoa will host the 10-team Northcoast Holiday Duals on Dec. 28-29. The Comets will compete against Cincinnati Oak Hills, Mogador, Cleveland Heights, Gibsonburg, Whitmer, Seneca East, Lakota, Margaretta and Galion.
“We’re real excited to host something like this,” Bergman said. “There will be nine duals in two days, and it should be pretty entertaining.”
In the routs over Elmwood and Fostoria, Demilio, Bates, Keenan, Szymanski, Fejes, Vizi, and Nino all went 2-0 on the night.