Down a single point with 45 second to go in Saturday’s Division III district championship finals at 145 pounds to Oak Harbor’s three-time state qualifier, Dylan Mansor, it looked like the Flyer senior may have his chase of perfection come to an end. Mansor was on top and looked to be seconds away from scoring a match-clinching takedown, when suddenly Gross managed to get around the Rocket senior’s grasp and turn a reversal to retake the lead at 6-5 with 38 seconds left on the third period clock.
Mansor (41-4), recovered, however, and managed to score a late escape to send what was the night’s most exillerating match to sudden victory. Then again, Gross found a way to keep his 51-0 record in tact, nearly losing a hold of Mansor’s head before near the edge of the mat before having the presence of mind to grab his leg and win 8-6 with a single-leg takedown.
“I have no idea how I did it,” Gross joked. “I just going with the flow and living in the moment out there.
“He’s (Mansor) a good wrestler,” he added. “My coaches pushed me through that match and did a great job of telling me to keep moving my feet.”
Gross earned his fourth trip to the individual state wrestling tournament, which starts Thursday at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
But the big story of Day 2 of the district tournament at Waite High School was once again the race for first between Sandusky Bay Conference foes Edison — the SBC and Div. III state duals champions — and Oak Harbor. Mansor was one of seven Rockets to make the championship finals where Oak Harbor went 4-3, getting wins from Trevor Scherf (132 pounds), Jake Huston (152), Kian Thompson (182) and Dylan Thorp (220) to beat out the Chargers by a 190.5-161 margin. Oak Harbor had an area-high seven total wrestlers — all via the finals — make it out.
“We brought 10 guys here and at least everyone won a match to help out the team, and for nine of the 10 to place, I couldn’t be much happier,” Rockets coach George Bergman said. “The kids really wrestled well all weekend. Having seven guys in the finals is pretty unreal, and to get four champs and win this district — with Edison the state duals champs and our league champs and Genoa, which is an outstanding team as well — the kids just brought it.”
It’s not quite the ‘Hateful Eight’ group from a year ago, which tied a program record, but six of the seven are returning state qualifiers. The newbie to the state group is 113-pounder Cameron Dickman, who advanced to the finals, only to fall to Genoa super-sophomore Dylan D’Emilio — a defending state champion who picked up win No. 100 with the victory.
Four-time SBC champion Bruce Hrynciw — third at state last year at 120 — was another district runner-up at 126 for the Rockets. He fell victim to Delta’s two-time state champion and University of Michigan recruit Drew Mattin, via a third-period pinfall (4:46). Mattin became the school’s all-time wins leader Saturday with 189 career wins.
“There was no shame in those guys losing to the guys they did,” Bergman said. “Next week is a whole new tournament and we think all seven of these guys, plus our alternate (Jake Sage at 195), are all capable of doing some damage.”
Edison got titles from Brady Barnett at 138 and Sam Stoll at 195, while Dalton Burns (160) was runner-up, losing a tough 3-1 overtime match to Genoa’s James Limongi, to make state for the first time. A total of six Chargers will make the trip to Columbus.
“Coming in, I was thinking at least between five and eight. But to have eight placers with six getting out and two for fifth and sixth, I thought we had a good district tournament,” Chargers coach Davy Hermes said. “We had a great finals with our kids going 6-2 in the finals and setting ourselves up for next week.”
Edison got titles from Brady Barnett at 138 and Sam Stoll at 195, while Dalton Burns (160) was runner-up to make state for the first time. A total of six Chargers will make the trip to Columbus.
“I’m happy for Dalton Burns. He’s a senior and last year he was an alternate after losing a tough match in the go-to match,” Hermes said. “He’s been working awfully hard and wrestling really well since about the beginning of January. He was a takedown away from being a district champ.
Barnett’s dominating 17-4 major decision win over Rossford’s Austin Eick moved him to 55-5 on the season and within four wins of best friend Evan Cheek’s career-wins record of 214.
“I’ve had a great career here and now I just have one more thing on my check list to go get,” said the two-time state finalist.
Alex Neuberger (145) earned a 4-2 decision over Swanton’s Chase Moore to place third to qualify to Columbus, while Ray Adams, a first-time qualifier, also took third with a pinfall of Otsego’s Jake Manley (0:55) to move to 54-6. Dylan Burns was third at 113 to round out the qualifying list.
Western Reserve’s Gage Griffith fell a match short of making it out, taking fifth at 106 to earn an alternate spot. St. Paul’s Sam Meyer also just missed out on the trip, taking sixth at 138.