PTC Wrestling Report: Opening-week tournaments could provide look ahead

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Given the grinding, long nature of the high school wrestling season, it's not very wise to read too much into the results from opening weekend.

That said, the performance of the Portage Trail Conference's two defending division champs over the weekend should provide a warning to the rest of the PTC.

Crestwood wanted to challenge itself by heading up to the Solon Comet Classic, which might be the toughest opening-week tournament in Ohio.

Suffice to say, the Red Devils passed this test with flying colors.

Crestwood finished fourth at Solon with 158 points, trailing only Solon (182), West Virginia powerhouse Parkersburg (164.5) and a resurgent Nordonia squad (161.5).

The Red Devils were the top Division II school at Solon, beating the likes of Walsh Jesuit, Lake Catholic and St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Why is beating those squads significant? These are the teams Crestwood will likely do battle with, along with Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, for supremacy at the Division II district meet in Alliance.

Two of Crestwood's returning state qualifiers led the charge, as junior 113-pounder Jake Zemaitis and senior 138-pounder Dylan Kager each won individual titles.

Kager's win keeps intact a very interesting streak for him. The All-Ohioan hasn't lost a regular-season match since his sophomore year.

Crestwood also got a second-place finish from returning state qualifier Josh Hillier at 145 pounds, while 120-pounder Connor Nemec and 182-pounder Kenny Jackson each took third place.

Considering the field at Solon is likely the toughest the Red Devils will face until the district tournament, fourth place is a solid accomplishment.

Coach Dave Wrobel said he would like to see the rest of his team progress to the level his top five wrestlers displayed at Solon.

If that happens, the Metro Division title will likely stay in Mantua.

Rovers rising

Meanwhile, down Route 43 at Aurora, Rootstown showed it might be ready to continue the success its had the last few seasons.

Rootstown earned its best finish ever at Aurora by taking second at the newly renamed Paulie McGhee Invitational with 184 points. Division I Parma won the title with 241.5 points.

Naturally, Rootstown's two returning All-Ohioans led the charge.

Junior Travis Linton was the dominant force at 182, despite tweaking his knee a bit in the finals, while senior Jake Moore claimed a title at heavyweight.

Moore weighed in around 240 this week and is unsure if he will cut down to the 220-pound weight class, where he was fourth in the state last season.

However, Rootstown also got some help from its young guns.

Sophomore 152-pounder Marco Oliver reached the final before falling to tournament MVP Rob Alcorn of West Geauga. Also, freshman Tony Paolucci and Seth Hayes, along with juniors Skyler Montie and Tarren Lowell and senior Kyle Slaughter, reached the podium.

Rovers coach Craig Wise might have a team that can take care of business both in the tournaments and duals this year, despite only having 15 wrestlers in the room.

However, Wise also has set up a challenge for his two big guns. After this week's dual-meet opener Thursday against Woodridge, Moore and Linton have a date with the Walsh Ironman Tournament.

The Ironman is regarded by many as the toughest high school wrestling tournament in the country.

It's also the place where Travis' brother -- 2012 Rootstown graduate Garrett Linton -- announced his credentials as a contender for the state title.

Last year, the elder Linton brother took eighth place at the Ironman. He didn't lose another match the rest of the season on his way to becoming the first state champion in Rootstown history.

If either Travis Linton or Moore can find the podium at Walsh, one would have to stamp them as early favorites to win the state title in their respective weight classes.

Duals on Parade

PTC dual-meet action opens this Thursday.

However, if local fans are looking for some Metro Division action, they'll have to hit the road to Summit County.

Crestwood, Field and Coventry will engage in double-dual action at Norton. First match is set for 5:30 p.m. Ravenna, Kent Roosevelt and Streetsboro will do the same at Springfield.

The schedule is lighter on the County Division side, but Rootstown's tri-meet with Woodridge and Bedford could provide more early-season insight into the division's pecking order. First match is at 5 p.m.

Waterloo and Southeast also are due to renew their rivalry Thursday at 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-941-5442

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