Third-year Clay wrestling coach Gerry Anthony had plenty to be happy about following his program's season-opening weekend.
"We're pretty excited," Anthony said. "We just picked up where we left off from last year."
On Dec. 4-5, Clay's Gold team took second place behind Bedford Chanel at the 24-team Comet Classic in Solon. That same weekend the Eagles' Green team finished third out of 10 teams at the Oak Harbor Invitational. The host Rockets scored 279½ points, followed by Kettering Fairmont (223) and Clay (190).
On Dec. 5, the Eagles' freshman squad crowned six individual champions en route to winning the Maumee Invitational.
"This is probably the strongest freshman group we've had since I've been here," Anthony said. "Both of our middle schools won tournaments the same weekend. It was just a great weekend for Oregon wrestling."
Clay's varsity program will once again play two full team schedules this season. The Eagles return 30 lettermen from a squad that last season claimed its first City League title in 45 years.
"This team can be better than last year," Anthony said. "We've had a great offseason and the kids competed a lot in the summer. We had a strong offseason program with lifting and wrestling."
Anthony said the Eagles, who are favored to repeat at CL champions, "will just keep on trying to improve every day."
He added that Central Catholic, last year's runner-up, should also contend for the league championship.
"We beat them out last year for the City championshp and they also finished the season strong," Anthony said. "And, they have a lot of kids back."
Clay, the defending sectional champ, must replace nine starters from a squad that took fourth at the district tournament.
Seniors Nick Garcia and Mark Orth are defending league champions. Garcia returns at 103 pounds after placing fifth in the state last season. Orth, who wrestled at 152 a year ago, is at 140 this season. Senior 215-pounder Mike Ackerman is also a returning state qualifier.
Garcia won his weight class at the Comet Classic, while Ackerman finished second.
"All the weight classes were difficult," Anthony said. "Almost every weight class had state placers. I was pleased with the whole team. They beat some very good wrestlers."
Sophomore Angelo Amenta (130) and senior Jarrod Snoderly (275) both took third at Solon. Junior Cody Kish was fourth at 119, sophomore Jake Conine (125) and senior Anthony Resendez (152) both took fifth and junior Matt Kohler placed sixth at 145.
At the Oak Harbor Invitational, senior Jake Davis was first at 152 and sophomore Mike Screptock (103), junior Curtis Coutcher (125) and sophomore Garrett Gray (215) all took second.
Clay also got third-place finishes from sophomore Nick Wollenbecker at 112, junior Jeremy Richard at 135, freshman Eddie Silva at 160 and junior Ryan Maclalany at 171.
"Just a solid performance by the whole team," Anthony said. "We placed 11 out of our 14 wrestlers."
The Eagles' freshman champions at the Maumee Invitational were Nick McNutt at 103, Austin Lewis (119), Branden Maya (130), Damon Dominique (145), Jarred Gray (189) and Pete Zapada (215).
Clay's Gold team will compete at the Bowling Green Duals on Saturday and Sunday, while the Green team will wrestle at the Fremont St. Joe Duals on Saturday.