Comet wrestlers return to the NBC’s summit

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Genoa is back.
The Comets, who won state dual team and state tournament championships in 2018 and ‘19, are back in their rightful place among the best in Northwest Ohio, if not the entire state.
Genoa is coming off a Northern Buckeye Conference title, which it won with 211.5 points, well ahead of Elmwood, which finished second with 118 points. The Comets also went 7-0 this season in the NBC Duals.
Genoa, under the direction of Bob Bergman, now in his 13th season leading the program at his alma mater, had won seven straight NBC titles from 2012-19 and reached the summit in Division III before losing a number of great wrestlers and having to rebuild for the last three seasons.
Scott Fuller, who wrestles at 106 pounds, got the Comets started off on the right foot by winning his weight class. Hayden Dunn (113), Noah Tipton (126), Nate Tipton (132), Zavier Materni (144) and Ethan Crawford (215) also finished in first place.
Mike Soto (120), Xavier Arriaga (138), Baily Everhardt (165) and Kevin Ludwig (285) placed second, while Luke Clement (157) took third.
“I’m very proud of the kids; they are a resilient bunch,” said Bergman. “They have embraced the rebuilding process, and it’s nice to see them come out on the other side.”
Bergman talked about some of his standout wrestlers.
“The Tiptons have been the unsung heroes of the junior class; they’re the core of our team. They’ve done all the hard work since they were freshman, and we went 29-0 and were state champs,” said Bergman. “Then we were 13-10, 8-25 and 15-10 last year. They’re ‘Energizer Bunnies’ – they’ve always got more to give and they give a lot each day. Kevin Ludwig, our heavyweight, has done a nice job, Ethan Crawford has been formidable. Luke Irwin has climbed a couple of weight classes and done it for the team and given us some balance on the top.
“They’re great cerebral kids, great teammate,” he said.
“The kids have put in the work, in the season and outside of season, and have taken advantage of the opportunity in Disney Duals, spring-season wrestling and lifting,” said Bergman. “I’m fortunate that we have guys that go the extra mile and don’t do the bare minimum. That comes from quality families that value wrestling.”
Now, the wrestlers look forward to competing in Division III at sectionals, districts and state.
“We are optimistic and just eager for the opportunity to see how far we can go,” said Bergman. “The time, effort and energy pay dividends, and the postseason is why we do all this work and the kids put all the time in with hours and training.”
The Comets also had good showings at some of the state’s most prestigious tournaments, including the Medina Invitational and the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament.
Recently, Bergman, who is just 37, achieved 300 career dual-meet victories, something he shies away from talking about, but he did give plenty of credit to his assistant coaches for their help during his tenure.
“Having alumni rubbing elbows with our kids, top-shelf kids, is important. We have guys like Brandon Bates, who’s an assistant coach graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Toledo. He’s just a great worker and teaches life lessons. Damian D’Emilio, is a middle-school and high-school coach — he refills the pipeline as a teacher in the school,” said Bergman. “Our Genoa alums get behind us, the community is super supportive. Our dual meets have been supported greatly. (Assistant coach) Terry Reeves was an all-Ohio wrestler at Stritch. Tommy Giles is a recent graduate, and his dad was a coach for over 20 years in the program. In the biddy program, we have Scott Fuller and Marc Matta. It’s not a Lone Ranger thing. I just get to work with the high schoolers, there are a lot of people they work with before they get to me. There’s also Jonathan Poddany, who’s been with us for four years, and is a middle-school coach. He’s dynamic.”
Bergman and the school’s administration, particularly Matt Routson, the athletic director, worked to increase the popularity of the sport for the community, bringing in the pep band, cheerleaders and doing theme events.
“The administration did a fantastic job. We put some energy into promoting our kids, and Genoa responded in a big way,” Bergman said. “Our cheerleaders, the pep band, the glow-stick handouts, the entrance music, the halftime events. It’s been a very nice way to support the kids.”
Routson talked about the experience.
“Bob’s objective is to build up the sport a little more and get more kids interested. Our gym was packed for all four events. He sent me an article about another school in Northwest Ohio that tried to do the same thing, and just got their perspective,” Routson said. “It was nice to have so many people. It was pretty cool.”


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