Independence’s wrestling team reeled in the New Year with a road trip to Western Pennsylvania on Saturday to compete in the South Side Dual Tournament in Hookstown.
The Blue Devils finished pool wrestling with a 1-2 record then swept both matches in the Bronze bracket to finish ninth out of 16 teams.
“This tournament turned out to be a great opportunity for us,” said Independence coach Ken DeAngelis. “We got to travel the night before and stay in a hotel, which helps us grow stronger as a team. Any time you wrestle kids from Pennsylvania you know you are going to get tough competition. Wrestling in close dual meets like this before we get into the majority of our conference duals and the state dual meet tournament is important. The benefits from this tournament far outweighed the challenges.”
Those challenges included forfeiting three to five matches in each dual.
That hurt the Blue Devils in a 34-32 loss to Ellwood. The Blue Devils beat Ambridge, 34-25, but lost to South Fayette, the eventual tournament champion, 77-0. South Fayette allowed just 22 total points in five duals.
Independence then beat Bethel Park, 33-19, in the Bronze bracket semifinals and capped the day with a 32-17 win over Fort Cherry in the ninth place match.
“We started out the day slow and finished strong,” DeAngelis said. “We wrestled a PA state champ, Power Ade (tournament) runner-up, and many tough PA kids. In our last match, we won eight of the nine matches we wrestled and broke open several close matches late in the match. It was our most complete dual of the day. As a team, we continue to look for areas we need to improve on and we definitely found some today. “
Kevin Clymer led the Blue Devils with a 4-0 record at 152 pounds.
“This was Kevin's first action since pinning his first two opponents at the Hawken Tournament,” DeAngelis said. “He missed several weeks with an injury but is healthy now. Kevin has a very high wrestling IQ and it's important for our team to have him wrestling. We're a better team with him in the lineup.”
Matt Mroczynski was 4-1 with three pins at 138 and David Goldwin was 4-1 at 106.
“Matt continues to build on a successful season. He's someone we rely on to perform in big moments,” DeAngelis said. “(Goldwin) really helped us out today picking up two forfeits and winning two decisions. In close duals you need everyone to contribute and David definitely did today.”
Drew Benos was 3-2 with a pin and two technical falls at 145 and Alex Nelson was 3-1 with a pin while wrestling at 152 or 160.
“Drew competed hard today. He ran into a PA state champ from South Fayette but even in that match he battled,” DeAngelis said. “Alex finished off our final dual with a third period pin in a close match. He was sick most of the week and we weren't sure if he was going to be able to wrestle today.”
Independence is at Cuyahoga Heights on Thursday for a tri-match with the Redskins and Kirtland.