Monday, March 27, 2023

Shorthanded Hornets show well in tri-match

KIRTLAND—Sometimes quality trumps quantity.

That was the case for the Kirtland wrestling team in Thursday’s tri-match with Beachwood and Cardinal.

The Hornets lost to Cardinal, 60-24, and Beachwood, 438-24, but their five wrestlers combined to finish 8-2 on the night.

“We were really happy with the way our guys wrestled,” said Kirtland coach Scott Francis. “That’s what we see over the years, the guys that come into our room and put the time in they do well. We have three freshmen out there and we were really happy with all of them.”

Seniors Brendan Williamson (113) and Chris Brown (160/170) and freshmen Alex French (120) and Konnor Duncan (126/132) all went 2-0 for the Hornets.

Brown pinned Cardinal’s Sam Ellis in 33 seconds at 170 pounds then needed 2 minutes, 50 seconds to finish off Beachwood’s Matt Henry at 160.

Trailing 2-0, Henry reversed Brown to his back to take a 5-2 lead early in the first period. Brown recovered and won the match in the second period.

“He made one mistake in there and got caught but he’s strong enough and fought off his back and came back,” Francis said. “Overall, he did a really nice job. He was hitting his moves and his moves were working. His matches went his way. That’s what we stress to our guys, hit your moves, get into your situations and you’ll be successful.”

French opened the night with a pin of Cardinal’s Brandon Nevison then received a forfeit against the Bison.

“Alex came out and in the one match he wrestled against a good kid,” Francis said. “We told him before the match that he’s got a kid who is an upperclassman and is strong but he went out there and wrestled a nice match.”

Duncan pinned Cardinal’s Nate Metheny in 4:06 then drew a forfeit against Beachwood.

“Konnor went out there in his first match and wrestled tough,” Francis said. “He was hitting his moves and did a little bit of counter wrestling when he had to. Conditioning paid off in that match. By the end of the match he was doing what he wanted to and that’s another thing we stress. Work hard and the third periods become easy.”

Williamson had little trouble winning his first match since an illness prevented him from competing in the Division III sectional tournament last season.

He drew a forfeit against Cardinal then racked up seven first period takedowns before pinning Beachwood’s Will Henry in 1:36.

“The kid was a little bit underweight and came out and battled him for as long as he could but Brendan came out and got a lot of takedowns on him,” Francis said. “At a certain point you get mentally broken. Brendan was able to get that and he got the pin at the end of the first. I think (missing the postseason last year) definitely really disappointed him. He was looking forward to coming out this year and really showing what he’s able to do.”

Freshman Spencer McLelland dropped both of his matches but he showed plenty of promise.

“The first match, that’s a match that we felt was winnable for him,” Francis said. “Not today it’s not, that kid definitely wrestled better than him, but if Spencer goes out and hits his moves it’s definitely going to be a different match. In the second one he went out and ran into a kid that was pretty tough and he had a hard time getting anything going.”

Kirtland travels to Beachwood on Thursday.

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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