Redmen come away empty at district wrestling tournament
By BRAD FRANK
Gazette Sports Editor
MARION — Few places can leave someone feeling more empty than after a high school district wrestling tournament.
For seniors, it is their last shot at qualifying for the state tournament while often times it is their first shot. That was the case for a pair of Bellevue Redmen seniors on Saturday at the Division II district wrestling tournament at Marion County Fairgrounds.
Bellevue seniors Damon Cheek and Brendan Adkinson each entered Saturday’s competition in Marion needing one win to qualify for the state tournament. After two wins on Friday to put them in the semifinals, both went 0–2 on Saturday, ending their careers one level shy of state.
Wrestlers in each of the 14 championship bracket finals matches advance to the state tournament as well as the wrestlers who advance the third-place match in the consolation bracket.
Cheek and Adkinson, who were both in pursuit of their first career trip to state, both lost matches one round shy of automatic state berths in each bracket. Cheek finished sixth in the 132-pound weight class. Adkinson won the fifth-place match at 170.
“It was a tough day,” Bellevue coach Paul Zolman said. “We had some roller coaster matches that could have went either way. We didn’t get the calls today that we may have gotten on a different day. We knew coming in that there were a lot of good wrestlers who were going to be ending their season at this tournament.”
In a semifinal in the 132-pound weight class, Cheek lost a 6–5 by an ultimate tiebreaker to Lima Shawnee’s Colin McDermitt.
“He [Cheek] had to go out there and do everything right,” Zolman said. “Sometimes in wrestling you can do everything right and still not come away with a win. Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where that was the case.
“Damon wrestled one of best matches I’ve ever seen Damon wrestle. The chips didn’t fall where they needed to fall. It’s tough to see that.”
In Adkinson’s second match Saturday, he held a one-point lead in third period against Kenton Ridge’s Bobby Mounts but lost by pin at 4:17 to end his bid for state. Adkinson beat Mounts on Friday in a 5–4 decision.
“Every wrestler has his strengths and weaknesses,” Zolman said. “This was the second time Brendan wrestled that boy.
“When guys start seeing each other multiple times, they start figuring out your strengths and weaknesses. He figured out one of his weaknesses, exploited that weaknesses and unfortunately, we were unable to overcome this time.”
Another senior, Bellevue’s Nick Mazzaro, entered Saturday’s action needing three straight wins to qualify for state from the consolation bracket. He lost his first-round match Friday to Norwalk’s Jake Alexander, ending his senior season with a 33–9 mark.
Redmen senior Anson Hupp was eliminated from the district tournament Friday following two losses. He finished the 2011-12 season with a 28–22 record.
For underclassmen, coming away empty is a source of motivation to last them the rest of their careers. At the same time, however, they, too, realize that they may face the same feeling that some seniors felt this weekend.
Bellevue had two other district qualifiers, both underclassmen, who didn’t advance from Friday’s action. Junior Ryan Veliz and freshman Grant Moyer each went 0–2 in their first district appearance.
Zolman labeled the 2011-12 season a positive one, saying he is happy with where the program is. He talked about what message he leaves each wrestler as he exits the postseason and his words to the parting seniors.
“I try to be postive with the kids, saying “You’re a part of our success. You added to that,” Zolman said. “What they did, making it to the district tournament, is definitely something to be proud of.
“To the upperclassmen, we appreciate everything they’ve done. They’ve poured their hearts out. We appreciate all their efforts and everything they’ve done for us.”
Bellevue finished the season with a 3–5 record in team matches and finished in the top five of each of its five regular season tournaments.
The Redmen finished third at the Northern Ohio League championships and fifth out of 13 schools at the Shelby sectional tournament.
Cheek recorded his 100th career victory on Jan. 11 in a dual at Perkins.