Genoa wrestlers swept their way to a perfect 7-0 league record, claiming their second consecutive Northern Buckeye Conference dual championship as they ripped Otsego by a score of 56-6.
In addition, Genoa's wrestling program will have the honor of hosting the first round of the OHSAA State Dual Tournament on January 23. The top two teams in each sub region were given the opportunity to host.
So why is Genoa continuing its dominance in the NBC and one of the two top teams in the region? Perhaps it is things like the Challenge leadership program the Comets attended recently at the University of Toledo.
|Genoa senior wrestler Mike Snider climbs
the rope while participating in the University
of Toledo Challenge program at the Student
Recreation Center. (Press photo by Harold
“The leadership staff at the UT Rec Center led our wrestling team through high and low initiative exercises that focused on building morale, enhancing decision making, while providing a challenging environment to gel our team together,” Coach Bob Bergman said.
“The course challenged our wrestlers to take risks and overcome barriers both mentally and physically. Wrestlers learned how to work cooperatively to achieve common goals and tasks,” Bergman continued.
“Our guys really seemed to enjoy the multiple challenges and obstacles they took part in. It was nice to take a break from the grind of our wrestling schedule and do something together as a team. It was neat to see our boys out of their element working together as a team. Wrestling builds a lot of character, but dangling from a rope 40 feet off the floor reveals it.”
The UT Challenge program is created not just for athletic teams, but for UT student organizations, corporate groups, special events, staff trainings, retreats, civic and service organizations, youth groups, and other high school and middle school groups.
They had considered taking the wrestlers to a leadership course at the University of Michigan.
“Chris Rawski, who teaches at Genoa but is softball coach at Oak Harbor and is a good friend, he mentioned at (Sylvania) Southview they did a team building course at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and we were looking to go up there, but UT was closer and cheaper, so we decided to go there,” Bergman said.
Dom Demilio, a longtime biddy coach who also is on the high school coaching staff, is a University of Toledo employee and was the one who mentioned that they had just begun a similar program.
“(Demilio) mentioned that they have a leadership course,” Bergman said. “We were talking about doing a non-wrestling event during the year to kind of break up the monotony, and Toledo just started one. I think we were the third program to go through.”
The clinic is put on by the Student Recreation Center staff to teach climbers the basics of climbing. After successfully completing the clinic, climbers may purchase a climb card. This allows climbers to climb and belay with a partner during open climb hours.
Besides the rope climbing, there were obstacle courses, exercises where wrestlers had to go through hoops, exercises where they were blind-folded, and Bergman said it was all for “trust and leadership, learning to deal with peer pressure, and giving all the kids a chance to learn creativity and problem solving.”
Bergman said, “They loved it. They really enjoyed the challenges. The camaraderie was pretty cool. It was mostly hands on. They did a recap at the end in the classroom about team and trust and what they learned about leadership. It was well done.
“It definitely helps them bond and see everything in kind of a new light. We have about 24 on the team, and about four of them got up to the top level. It’s about seeing what they are made of and what they are willing to attempt. It was really tough and demanding. It was both a mental and physical workout as well, and their arms were all sore. It was a workout on multiple levels.”
During the last hour of the five-hour session, and team went swimming and diving at the rec center, in part because the rock wall had already been reserved by a university student organization. Bergman said the wrestlers already have said they want to do it again.
While defeating Otsego to win the NBC dual schedule, Genoa also defeated Northwest Ohio Athletic League and Division III rival Liberty Center by a score of 49-24. Pinning in both matches for the Comets was sophomore 120-pounder Brandon Bates.
Other double win wrestlers for the Comets were Damian Demilio, Seth Morrison, Drew Keenan, Jake Fejes, Jay Nino, Tyler Baird, and Ryan Espinoza. Over all Genoa went 21-7 in individual matches. The Comet grapplers improved their dual record to 24-3 on the year.
In the state duals, the winner of each sub region will face the winner of the other sub region for a trip to Columbus where the top eight teams in D-III will compete for team state championship.
Genoa will have a bye in the first round and will face the winner of Swanton and Toledo Christian. Action gets underway at 6 pm on Wednesday — the first night of action. The Comets were seeded second by area coaches to state ranked Delta, which is 17-4 on the year.
Final voting results for the region were Delta (54), Genoa (47), Lake (43), Elmwood (38), Fostoria (33), Otsego (32), Swanton (25), Evergreen (22), North Baltimore (13), and Toledo Christian (8).
Genoa’s men in maroon over the weekend traveled to Napoleon to compete in the Gold Medal Duals.