By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
Crestwood wrestling made the long bus ride up to Lake County on Wednesday hoping to make a little history.
If the Red Devils could get past Chagrin Valley Conference champion Perry, the team would earn a spot at the inaugural Division II team wrestling state tournament.
However, the Pirates, who won Region 11-A in the tournament, posed a very difficult challenge and came into Wednesday's match having not lost a dual meet this season.
The Pirates showed their dual meet prowess, winning the match 43-22 to earn the trip to the state meet Saturday in Columbus. Crestwood finished with a final dual meet record of 14-6.
Crestwood, which came in as the Region 11-B champion, won only five of the 14 bouts, one of which came by forfeit.
"Perry came out and pretty much dominated from start to finish," said Crestwood head coach Dave Wrobel. "We'll just have to fine tune things heading into sectionals, because that's when it really starts.
"I don't know if we weren't prepared tonight or what," Wrobel added. "It was nice to compete the first two weeks of the duals, but we just didn't bring it tonight."
Perry had some extra inspiration Wednesday, as the match marked the return of Pirates head coach Dave Rowan, after he missed the last month because of health issues.
"It's been really tough for me the last four weeks," Rowan said. "It's very emotional. This group is just amazing."
For Crestwood, things did not start well.
The match opened with a barnburner at 106 pounds, as Crestwood's Ryan Deuly and Perry's Brady Toth went to overtime. In the extra session, however, Toth put Deuly on his back and won 10-5.
In a battle between the PTC and CVC champions at 113 pounds, Perry's Colin Dees got a pair of reversals to score a 4-2 win over Jake Zemaitis.
Crestwood got on the board thanks to a 24-9 technical fall from 120-pounder Connor Nemec, but Perry answered with two straight pins.
Red Devil 138-pounder Josh Hillier responded by getting a 10-2 major decision.
In the second battle of conference champions on the night, Dylan Kager had few problems with Perry's Drew Jones, scoring an 18-7 major decision.
Red Devil 152-pounder Garrett Gerardi then scored a 9-3 decision over David Mrosko, cutting Perry's lead to 18-16.
But the Pirates dominated the upperweights, as the Red Devils gave up major decisions at 160 and 170 pounds.
In a third battle of league champs, Perry's Ryan Sill turned Kenny Jackson on his back five times to score 15-0 technical fall.
After Perry's Kyle Kremiller clinched the match with a pin over Stephen Cox, the Pirates chose to forfeit 220 pounds to Crestwood's Doug Battiest.
CVC heavyweight champion Biller Miller closed out the match with a pin in 52 seconds.