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Stow-Munroe Falls' performance at the Division I sectional wrestling tournament at Austintown Fitch mirrored the Bulldogs' performance this season.
It's was a tough struggle, but there were some bright spots for Stow.
Stow finished ninth in the team race at Austintown with 96 points, one point behind Ashtabula Lakeside. Hudson won the meet with 198.5 points. The sectional tournament took place Feb. 15 and 16.
More importantly, Stow advanced four wrestlers on to the district meet. The top four finishers in each weight class at Austintown advanced to districts.
Stow coach Randy Jenkins said he was a bit lukewarm on the results, if not his team's effort.
"I was hoping for a couple more [district qualifiers]," Jenkins said. "I was hoping for all the seniors and [Hunter] Massey to get out. You've got some top contenders there, though.
"I think, as a team, we're right where we should be," Jenkins added. "We had three underclassmen qualify for districts, which is good for the future."
Jenkins also noted his team wrestled well in the placement matches, going 5-1.
Stow had two individual champions at Austintown, beginning with freshman 106-pounder Kyle Jenkins.
The younger Jenkins was in dominant form all weekend, beating Hudson's Hadley Vadyak 13-3 and pinning Twinsburg's Luke Dimuzio in 31 seconds. In the final, Jenkins dominated Solon's Dan Clement and won 13-1.
"I think Kyle is doing some of his best wrestling right now," coach Jenkins said of his son. "In my opinion, he's within one match of making [states] He's going to have to win one tough match. The talent at 106 has been excellent this year."
After an up-and-down final month of the season, senior 182-pounder Gage Finegan looks to be back in form.
Finegan defeated Cuyahoga Falls' Andrew Paster 9-2 and then squeezed out a 7-6 win over top-seeded Joe Cordova of Boardman to reach the final.
In the final, Finegan avenged an earlier loss this season to Hudson's Danny Tiley, scoring a 4-3 win to take the title.
"I think he's back," Jenkins said of Finegan. "He's moving really well. His shape's there after moving down to 182."
Sophomore 152-pounder Nick Planicka continued his excellent season by taking third place. His lone loss came in the semifinals to two-time state champion Anthony Collica of Solon. Collica pinned him in 1:48.
Planicka rebounded by beating Hudson's Sam Semenczuk 6-4 and then taking Chardon's Ian Taylor 4-3 in the third-place match.
"He's a gamer," Jenkins said. "He's only going to get better."
Sophomore 120-pounder Justin George earned his third-place finish the hard way. After losing 3-1 to Hudson's Billy Beuhl, George had to win three straight matches.
He did just that, pinning Lakeside's Josh Perry, beating Chardon's Anthony Tilocco 4-1 and winning a rematch with Beuhl in the third-place match 5-3.
"Justin started out kind of slow," Jenkins said. "He's had a couple close matches and a couple disappointments. He's on the upswing now."
Stow also got a fifth-place finish from Massey at 160 pounds. He defeated Fitch's Jake Jameson 12-5 in the fifth-place match. Senior 126-pounder Dylan Hartwig took sixth place.
Stow' four qualifiers were set to wrestle at the Division I district tournament at Mentor Feb. 22 and 23, but results were not available at press time. The top four placers in each weight class at Mentor advance to states.
Jenkins said his philosophy for his wrestlers was simple as they prepared for "The Mentor Meatgriner."
"All you have to do is win four matches," Jenkins said. "It doesn't matter where you are."
The Division I state tournament will begin Feb. 28 at Value City Arena in Columbus. Division I wrestling will start at 5:45 p.m.