Wrestling under the spotlight brought back some memories for West Geauga Wolverines’ freshman Caden Kaleal.
Thanks to a new spotlight just installed in the gym, all eyes were on the 120-pounder when he grappled against Copley’s Michael Young last Thursday.
He could remember the lights shining just as brightly when he competed at the Ohio Athletic Committee junior high state meet last year, losing a match just before the blood round.
Kaleal exercised some demons when he recorded a pair of pins against Young and Orange sophomore Brandon Khouli in the Wolverines’ tri-meet.
“It felt good like it always does,” Kaleal said. “It feels good to get some pins in.”
The Wolverines dominated the meet by beating Copley 57-23 then topped their Chagrin Valley Conference rival Orange 60-20, improving their dual meet record to 12-4 at The Wolvarena in Chester.
“Our goals are to be the best in the area and in the CVC,” said Wolverines’ Coach Carmen Russo. “Orange is a young team like we are with a young coach and for us to do very well against a CVC rival tells us we are rising in the rankings of the CVC.”
With nine dual meets remaining in the season, the Wolverines’ quest to break the school record for most dual victories in a season of 18 is alive and well.
Not only does the opportunity to eclipse 18 wins exist, but also the chance to reach 20 dual meet victories.
According to the second-year West Geauga coach, it is an impressive feat to be chasing, considering the team has just three seniors in its starting lineup this season.
“No one really considered us to be a force because we graduated some seniors that were very good like Ty Boze, Lucas Sadler and Jack Sparent, but these guys work hard and they want to get better. They are great learners in the room and are young,” he said. “They are coming back.”
Despite competing in a pair of dual meets on the same night, the Wolverines only competed in seven matches because Copley did not have its full roster.
The Indians were just the appetizer, but the Lions were the main course for West Geauga.
“Even though Copley missed some wrestlers, the ones that did wrestle were tough and the ones that got their matches in against Copley definitely got a good warm-up for Orange because some of those wrestlers from Copley wrestle very tough,” Russo said.
Orange then took its turn with Copley and beat them 48-27 but only won two matches.
“Copley has Javaan Yarbrough and that kid is going to do great things at the next level,” said Lions’ Coach Marco Regalbuto. “Any time you can experience a wrestler like that then everybody on your team gets better because they are watching and taking in that knowledge.”
After graduating two-time state qualifier Te’Andre Allen, Orange enters the season with an inexperienced squad with only five starting seniors, Fred Berland, Terrance Davis, Walker Smith, Donelle Taylor and Nick Nickens.
“They do a great job every day in the practice room,” the first-year Lions’ coach said. “Those are people we can count on to work hard and pave the way for this newer and younger generation of wrestlers.”
Lions’ Freshman Victor Kangas defeated freshman Anderson Louden 14-4 by a major decision in the 106-pound bracket, then Joltin dominated Sayah 11-0 in the 113-pound bout.
Kaleal once again made quick work of his opponent, this time overpowering freshman Brandon Khouli in the 120-pound match and eventually pinned him at the 52-second mark of the second period.
“Caden is really turning it on and his hitting on all cylinders,” Russo said. “He works hard and not only does stuff in the wrestling room but does stuff outside of the room so you can just tell the growth that he has made from day one as a varsity freshman wrestler to now.”
Sophomore Matthew Obranovich scored another win for the Wolverines when he pinned sophomore Gabriel Pflaum with 0:06 remaining in the first period of the 126-pound bout.
West Geauga sophomore Dan Donofrio survived a third period comeback attempt by Rashauud Barnes to win 3-2 in the 138-pound match.
Wolverines’ freshman Brian Denamen then pinned sophomore Patrick Seibel with 0:58 remaining in the third period of the 144-pound bout.
West Geauga sophomore Quentin Artino won the 150-pound match when he pinned senior Walker Smith with 00:40 remaining in the third period.
West Geauga sophomore Nick Donofrio then pinned Amir Barnes at the 00:39 mark of the first period in the 157-pound bracket.
Berland held the advantage against junior Ethan Bartlett in the 165-pound match and was ahead 6-4 in the third period before Bartlett gained the upper hand to pin him at the 1:17 mark.
“Fred Berland is a tough wrestler,” Russo said. “It was two different styles. Ethan is more north and south and comes straight at you where Berland is a funky wrestler and had great hips and could throw and scramble so it was just those styles that clashed.”
It was the same story in the 175-pound bout when Nickens took a 9-1 lead in the second period but sophomore Nasir Levy pinned him with 0:47 left in the period for another thrilling West Geauga comeback victory.
Sophomore Zack Metz was fast on his feet and pinned Lions’ freshman Arel Shvartsman with 1:48 remaining in the opening period.
The Lions then dominated the rest of the heavyweights with Davis defeating freshman Maveric Milnar in the 215-pound bracket by a 13-5 major decision, sophomore Austin Thomas clinched victory when he pinned sophomore George Rockow at the 0:41 mark of the 210-pound match, and Taylor pinned senior Casey Orsloski at the 1:15 mark of the first period in the 285-pound bout.
Following a home dual meet against CVC rival Edgewood, the Wolverines will travel to Warren Howland for the Howland Invite at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Orange will host the Audrey Genovese Memorial Tournament at 9 a.m. on Saturday in Pepper Pike.