Saturday, January 28, 2023

Kirtland trio advances to districts

Kirtland’s Brendan Williamson, Alex French and Chris Brown all advanced to the Division III district wrestling tournament next weekend at Garfield Heights High School.

Williamson finished third at Beachwood sectional on Saturday while French and Brown both finished second.

French, a freshman, drew back-to-back byes then needed just 2 minutes, 32 seconds to pin Newbury’s Robert Couch in the 120 pound semifinals.

He lost to Cardinal’s Trent Mast, a returning state qualifier, 2-0 in the championship bout.

“Being a freshman going up against a junior, I was pretty intimidated,” French said. “But, after the match I realized that I need to put those things behind me and focus on wrestling my match, no matter who I am facing.”

French wasn’t sure what to expect out of Mast in the finals but after dropping a close decision he’s ready to compete at districts with a berth in the state tournament on the line.

“It was an awesome confidence boost and I’ll be able to put that tentativeness behind me going into my matches (at districts),” French said.

French, who improved to 29-9 on the year, drew Jackson-Milton senior Terry Stockton (24-10) in the first round of the district tournament.

Brown, a senior, also finished second after pinning his way to the 152 pound finals. His first two opponents lasted with him on the mat just two minutes combined.

He’ll wrestle Cuyahoga Heights’ Jesse Woodall (21-13) in his district opener.

Williamson narrowly missed reaching the 113 pound finals.

He lost a 7-5 overtime bout to eventual champion Nick Bugard of Ashtabula St. John.

“His coach actually coached me when I was little and knows my style of wrestling and told him, so I knew it was gonna’ be a battle,” Williamson said. “I’ll get my revenge at districts.”

Williamson scored the first takedown in the match and led 2-0 after the first period. That score changed late in the second period when Bugart recorded a three-point near fall. Williamson added two back points in the third period but Bugard took a 5-4 lead on a late reversal. Williamson quickly escaped to force overtime.

Bugard scored a takedown in overtime to win it.

Williamson rebounded with back-to-back pins to finish third.

“That match (against Bugard) made me more motivated for districts because if I see him there I’m beating him to make it to the state tournament, which is more important,” he said.

Williamson (30-6) opens his final district tournament against Columbia’s Zack Shaffer (29-13) in a rematch of a 2014 district consolation second round bout. Williamson scored a 15-0 technical fall in that match.


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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