"Anybody can win the matches you can dominate, but it's the tough matches that are going to make the difference."
- Jim Zalesky, University of Iowa

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week Ten: Sectionals

Sectionals week is what the team has been building towards all season. It is a fresh start. Records do not matter. Lose and go home. Win and move on.
Our team took that challenge to heart and scored 105 points, good enough for a 7th place finish. One year after a poor finish, and only one District qualifier, we rebounded with 5 district qualifiers this year. That is the highest total since 2002 for the team and quite an accomplishment.
Those moving on are Sophomore Darsheed Mustafa, for the first time, Junior Rynell Roper, and Seniors Lamar Gunter, Dylan Norwood, and Zak Adkins. Darsheed finished in 4th in a very tough 130lb. division. Rynell finished in second, with his only loss to a 3-time state placer from Mayfield by a 8-3 decision. Zak was battling illness all week and did what he needed to do to advance with a top four finish. Dylan continued to wrestle well and put a tough semi-final loss behind him to finish in 3rd. Lamar also had a tough loss in the semis but rebounded for a 3rd. They both will go to districts for the first time.
We had another three wrestlers finish in 6th and they were all one match away from advancing. Those wrestlers, Jeremy Adkins, Linje Ross, and Ebrahim Elbagory, will be leaned upon in the coming years.
Overall, the team performed very well and we seem to be peaking at the right time. Good luck at Districts!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Week Nine: VASJ

On Friday, we had a short trip over to VASJ for what has become an annual match on the last week of the season, ala Ohio State vs. Michigan. It was supposed to be a quad. with Shaw, Cleveland Hts., and us, however, Shaw and Cleveland Hts. cancelled. VASJ brought in Dayton Horizon, coached by a former VASJ heavyweight. We took on a depleted Horizon in the second match and destroyed them to the score of 78-6. We won 13 of 14 weight classes, one match away from a shut out.
The headliner was taking on VASJ, a team that we have not defeated in three years. We started the match with two forfeits from VASJ to take a 12-0 lead. The next match, Freshman Mike Figer wrestled to a hard fought 6-0 decision in a loss. Score after 3 matches, Euclid 12, VASJ 3. Freshman Jared Clinton also dropped the next match by fall. Score Euclid 12, VASJ 9. Reggie Phillips took the forfeit at 130 that allowed us to extend our lead to 18-9. We took a gamble at 135 and bumped Darsheed Mustafa up a weight to face Russell Harrison of VASJ. Darsheed took a tough 12-3 major decision loss and VASJ was down only 18-13. Once again they had to forfeit a weight and we extended our lead 24-13, all on forfeits. Zak Adkins was the first wrestler to get us on the board with a 1:26 pin of his VASJ foe. However, he lost a team point by throwing his headgear to the bench. Score Euclid 29, VASJ 13. Next up was another senior, David Cozart, who took an early lead before running out of gas and losing by fall. Euclid 29, VASJ 19. Rynell Roper got us back on track with a third period pin over a game opponent. Euclid 35, VASJ 19. Next, Senior Dylan Norwood attacked his opponent for a quick first period pin. Euclid 41, VASJ 19. Mike Hobson, subbing for Lamar Gunter, took on VASJ state qualifier, Phil Wellington and took one for the team. He was dismantled and pinned in the second period. Euclid 41, VASJ 25. Next up was Noah Brown who was also taken out by his VASJ foe in a first period pin. Euclid 41, VASJ 31. The last match was another forfeit to make the final score Euclid 47, VASJ 31. Nice win Panthers!
With the two victories, the Panthers finish 14-8 in dual meets on the season.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not a good way to lose a championship!

North Dakota team's title run ended by a raccoon on a bus

By Cameron Smith

The Carrington (N.D.) High wrestling team never got a shot to defend its run of three consecutive Region 2 dual tournament titles, yet the reason it missed out had nothing to do with any ineligible player or poor results. Rather, the team was foiled by an uninvited visitor on its bus to the event: A wild raccoon.

According to the Grand Forks Herald and the Associated Press, among other outlets, Carrington was getting ready to compete at the duals championship when administrators discovered the team had been exposed to the animal on the ride from Carrington to Grafton, N.D., where the event was being held. With no time to assess whether any athletes had been in direct contact with the raccoon -- or whether the animal had rabies -- school officials immediately pulled the team out of the event to ensure that it wouldn't put any other wrestlers at risk. No players were bitten or scratched by the animal, but it was unknown if the raccoon was rabid, meaning that officials couldn't ensure opposing wrestlers would be safe from risk if the event continued as scheduled.

"We (school administrators) found out as the tournament was going on that while our students were on the way to the event, they were exposed to a raccoon," Carrington school superintendent Brian Duchscherer told the Herald. "Once we found that out, we didn't know if there was the potential of spreading anything, if the raccoon had rabies or not, so we decided to bring our kids home."

While the incident certainly provides a new watershed moment for "strangest self-disqualification from a postseason tournament," it actually gets even stranger when details surrounding the encounter are explored. According to the Herald, the team's coaches learned that there was a raccoon on the bus when their athletes picked up the animal, believing it was dead.

The decision to pick up a dead wild animal is questionable enough, but what the team's coaches decided to do next is arguably more bizarre: Instead of immediately removing the animal from the bus, they decided to move it to rear storage area instead.

That's right, the Carrington wrestling team knowingly rolled along to the Region 2 duals championship in the full knowledge that they had a wild animal in the back of the bus, dead or alive. In fact, it was only when the team arrived in Grafton that they discovered the animal was quite alive, as it trotted off the bus calmly after the storage area was opened, eluding capture to prevent any rabies testing that would have possibly cleared the way for the team to compete.

Final score: Raccoon 1, Carrington Wrestling 0.

Instead, the entire team got back on the bus and headed back to Carrington, sans raccoon and sans region championship trophy. As a result, the Cardinals will enter 2011-12 looking to regain the Region 2 duals title rather than defend it, with North Boder-Cavalier now the standing champions after victory by forfeit on Saturday.

The new champions may have been the big winners from the weekend's bizarre bus incident, but the raccoon itself was clearly a close second. Given it's performance at playing possum, perhaps it should be nominated for some kind of an animal kingdom Oscar.

Week Nine: L.E.L. Home match

In the last home match of the year and on Senior Parents night we had a night of ups and downs. To begin the night, the Panthers were handily defeated by newly crowned L.E.L. champs, Lorain Titans. It is their first year as a newly merged high school of the old Southview powerhouse and Admiral King. They went 8-0 in the L.E.L. and have won three tournaments this winter. Picking up victories, in the 59-18 loss, were Rynell Roper, Dylan Norwood, and Linje Ross, all by pins.
Next Seniors were honored along with their families for Senior Parent Night. Lamar Gunter had his father, Steve escort him to the center of the mat. David Cozart was escorted by mother Christine Kelly and grandfather Gary Pringle, who was a member of Euclid's 1958 OHSAA State Championship wrestling team. Dylan Norwood was escorted by parents by Eva and Desmond Davis. Zak Adkins and parents Kelly and Mischa Adkins, and also grandmother Agnus Adkins, were last to cross the mat for senior night.
Inspired by the seniors, and wanting to send them home with a victory in their last home match, Bedford jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead. We tied it up with a late decision by Darsheed Mustafa and pin by Freshman Reggie Phillips. Bedford took the lead again with a pin at 140, before the Panthers roared back and put the match out of reach with victories by pins from Zak Adkins and David Cozart, and decisions from Rynell Roper and Lamar Gunter. Bedford won at 215 and 285, but the match was already Euclid's. It ended with forfeit victories at 103 and 112 going to the Panthers, making the final score 46-24.
The Panthers are now 12-8 overall and 5-3 in the L.E.L., good for 4th place in the league. The team finishes the regular season tonight at VASJ against Shaw, Cleveland Heights, and the host Vikings.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Week Nine: Preview

As we enter the last week of the season, we will finish with two intense days of varsity wrestling. Currently, the team has a 4-2 record in the L.E.L. and 11-7 overall. This week determines if we finish above .500 a year after a 3-20 finish.
On Thursday, we have the last home match of the year. Lorain and Bedford visit in the last match of the L.E.L. season. Dylan Norwood is still undefeated in the 171 pound weight class. Zak Adkins and Rynell Roper each have one loss. They all will be wrestling for all-L.E.L. honors. We will take on Lorain at 5:30 pm in the East Gym. Lorain and Bedford will then wrestle. Then after Senior Night recognition, the Panthers will take on the Bearcats in a rematch of the 3rd place match at the Geneva T.K. Duals.
On Friday, we will take the short bus ride to VASJ for a quad with Shaw, Cleveland Heights, and the host Vikings. We narrowly defeated Shaw, by two points, in January, and Cleveland Heights 66-16 in our first home match. We have not defeated VASJ for three years. They won the last two years. The matches start at 6:00 pm in the Purple Palace.
On Saturday, the J.V. wrestlers will be in action at the L.E.L. J.V. tournament at Shaker Heights beginning at 9:00 am.

Euclid Observer article

The following story will be featured on the Euclid Observer's website. Writer John Sheridan came to practice to take pictures for a story on the team in early January. The Euclid Observer is a free newspaper that is distributed throughout the city. Their printed paper is on hiatus until March.

Panther Wrestlers Spark a Turnaround

By John Sheridan

Last winter, the Euclid Panther wrestling squad posted a rather dismal 3-20 dual meet record. But, oh, how things have changed over the course of a year.

Following a 48-27 victory over Shaker Heights on Jan. 20, Coach Mike Turk’s matmen were sporting a very respectable 8-4 mark, 4-0 in the Lake Erie League. Their winning momentum continued in a five-team dual meet tourney at Geneva, where they chalked up triumphs over Conneaut, Bedford, and Benedictine to boost their overall record to 11-5.

The newfound success may have triggered speculation that Euclid could have an outside chance of snaring its first league title since the 1986 team ruled the old Greater Cleveland Conference. However, two major hurdles stood in the way – Maple Heights and Mentor, both traditionally very tough opponents. The Panthers were scheduled to tangle with both of those teams on Friday Jan. 28 in a league tri-meet at Mentor, starting at 6 p.m.

What’s behind the Panthers’ resurgence on the mats this season?

Well, for one thing, the team now has a solid senior leadership corps. “This is the first year that I’ve had more than one senior on the team,” explains Coach Turk, a 1994 Euclid grad who wrestled for the Panthers under Coach Tim D’Anna. “It’s nice to have experienced seniors to show the underclassmen what they have to do to win.”

As of January 22, three of this year’s seniors had won at least 23 matches. And 152-pound David Cozart, who had been sidelined by injuries, was back in the lineup and had out-dueled six of the eight opponents he’d faced.

Another reason for the surprising turnaround is that the Panthers now have a full team and seldom have to forfeit matches in any of the 14 weight classes. “This is the first time in about eight years that we’ve had a full team,” Coach Turk notes.

Heading into the last week of January, eight Panther grapplers boasted winning records:

♦ Zak Adkins (145-pound senior) – 24-3.
♦ Rynell Roper (160, junior) – 24-3.
♦ Dylan Norwood (171, senior) – 24-4.
♦ Lamar Gunter (189, senior) – 23-9.
♦ Jim Adkins (112, freshman) – 14-10.
♦ Darsheed Mustafa (130, sophomore) – 13-7.
♦ Noah Brown (215, sophomore) – 11-9.
♦ David Cozart (152, senior) – 6-2.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the team’s success this winter is the hard work that the key wrestlers have committed to. “In the off-season,” notes Coach Turk, “we had eight or nine guys participating in freestyle wrestling clubs and open tournaments. That extra work during the summer has definitely been reflected in their performance this year.”

Looking ahead to the post-season, the coach believes that Rynell Roper, Dylan Norwood, and Zak Adkins may have the best shots at qualifying for the state meet. Euclid hasn’t had a state qualifier since Myron McConnell in 2003. And the last Panther to bring home a state title was Jack DeBoe in 1986.

Norwood, the senior 171-pounder, certainly has some insight into what it takes to turn things around. He won championships in two early season invitational events – the Riverside Rumble and the Perry “Pin City” tournament. “Those were the first two tournaments he’d ever won,” explains Coach Turk. (In the Pin City event, Euclid scored 195 points to finish sixth out of 17 teams—a dramatic improvement over the previous year when the Panthers finished dead last.)

Adkins, the senior 145-pounder, pinned all five opponents that he faced in the Geneva tourney to boost his record to 29-3, including 19 pins. He was recently named a Plain Dealer “Wrestler of the Week.” His freshman brother Jim (112) suffered a broken rib during one of his matches at Geneva, yet managed to post a victory. (It wasn’t until after the match that the seriousness of the injury became apparent.)

The Adkins brothers represent the second generation of a family that helped to establish a wrestling dynasty at Richmond Heights High during the era of Coach Mike Papouras.

Roper, the junior 160-pounder, set a freshman record for most wins in a season two years ago when he compiled a 27-16 mark. Last year, he improved to 38-8, setting another team record – for most wins at any class level.

In the LEL, Coach Turk points to Maple Heights and Lorain as the teams in the driver’s seat. The Panthers lost to Maple earlier this season in a six-team dual meet event that didn’t count toward the league standings. And Lorain upended Mentor in a recent dual meet.

However the league race plays out, the coach says he’s very pleased with the progress that his matmen have been making. “But the kids know they have a lot more work to do to get to where they want to be.”


Besides the Jan. 28 tri-meet at Mentor, the Panthers’ upcoming schedule includes a home meet against Bedford on Thursday Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m., a dual meet at VASJ at 6 p.m. on Friday Feb. 11, and the start of the tournament trail in the Division I sectional at Maple Heights on Feb. 18-19.

Week Eight: No Matches

We had week eight off and tried to go practice at other schools. However, most area schools had two snow days and we could not meet up.

Week Seven: Results

Week seven was not very kind to the Panther wrestling team. We traveled out to Mentor to take on the Maple Heights Mustangs and the host Cardinals. The team first took on Maple Heights in an exact repeat of their dual a few weeks earlier. This time we lost 54-18. Last time we lost 57-21. We won the same matches again, 103, 145, 160, and 171. Deja vois.
While Mentor was taking on Maple, there was another mat of JV wrestlers. 140 Kevin Leonard recorded his first pin of the year against the host team. For that he was awarded the upset match of the week award. Great job Kevin! Keep practicing hard.
The last match of the night pitted the Panthers versus the Cardinals in their last year in the same conference. It did not start well for the Panthers, as they dropped the first 10 matches. Rynell Roper lost a tough 3-2 decision to Zack Forro who is ranked higher than him in the Brakeman Report. Zak Adkins lost a 3-0 decision to a wrestler also ranked higher than him too. Dylan Norwood got us on the board with a 10-4 decision over his opponent. The coaches have begun calling him the King of Lake County, because he still has not lost there and runs his record to 14-0 in Lake County. He is 31-4 overall. After dropping the next two matches, we ended the night with a forfeit win at Heavyweight. Final score, Mentor 63, Euclid 9. Not how we wanted to send our long-time rivals away from the L.E.L.