Saturday, January 28, 2023

Huskies send five to district tournament

Cardinal made a run at the Division III Beachwood sectional team title but ended up in third place behind champion Newbury and runner-up Pymatuning Valley.

Newbury advanced 10 to next weekend’s Division III district tournament at Garfield Heights while Pymatuning Valley and Cardinal advanced eight and five, respectively.

Junior Trent Mast (120) and senior Brandon Neikirk (145) both won sectional titles for the Huskies while juniors Brandon Nevison (126) and Kyle Simms (170) and senior Bryn Havel (195) all finished second.

Sophomore Mason Lustig (132) and seniors Craig Shanower (138) and Sam Ellis (152) finished fifth. All three are alternates for the district tournament. Senior Alex Fabiny placed sixth at 285.

Neikirk pinned all three of his sectional opponents, leaving him just two short of the school record of 103 career pins.

“I just went into the tournament confident ready for anything,” Neikirk said. “It means a lot to hit the milestone of 100 and it would be cool to hold the school record.”

Neikirk, who improved to 37-4 and will compete in his fourth straight district tournament, drew Waynedale’s Tucker Wirth (36-20) in the district first round.

Mast won his third straight sectional title but it didn’t come easily.

He drew back-to-back byes in the first two rounds then pinned Garfield’s Guy Peart in the semifinals. He edged Kirtland’s Alex French, 2-0, in the finals.

“My finals match was definitely a lot closer than I thought it was going to be,” Mast said. “I don’t think I wrestled as well as I thought I was going to and he wrestled a really good, defensive match against me.”

Mast (37-4) drew Waterloo’s Daulton Metheney (2-2) in the first round at districts.

“It feels good to win sectionals,” Mast said. “(That momentum) will definitely help this week at districts in the first couple of rounds on Friday.”

Simms improved to 24-14 on the year with two pins at the sectional tournament.

“I am very happy on finally making it to districts as a junior and I'm very glad I placed second,” he said. “Throughout the day I was really feeling it but fell short in the finals. I really hoped for first, which would really help me get better placement down at districts, but still very pleased with second.”

He’ll wrestle Smithville junior Garrett Carraway (27-18) in the first round at Garfield Heights.

Havel, who improved to 24-14, qualified for his second straight district tournament with a 35 second pin over Pymatuning Valley’s Marcus Udell in the semifinals. He dropped an 8-4 decision to Newbury’s Kade Marker in the championship match.

He’ll wrestle Trinity’s Emmanuel Lodge (20-8) in the first round.

“It feels great to add another week to my last wrestling season,” Havel said. “I'm going to take it one match at a time and really focus on my first match, then I'll see what happens after that.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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