BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
COLUMBUS — Not only did Genoa win another state wrestling championship, it made history along the way.
The Comets finished with 172 points, setting a record in Division
III, and scored nearly 100 more than second-place Rootstown. There were an amazing six individual state champions for Genoa, which had nine wrestlers advance to Columbus.
“All those guys certainly are capable (of winning a state
championship), but having all six of them doing it is very hard to do,” said Genoa coach Bob Bergman. “We just wanted to get in a zone and have every guy be the aggressor. Trust your talent, instincts and training and that’s huge this time of the year. We were fortunate to be healthy, and we were blessed.”
Competing at 120 pounds was Oscar Sanchez, who won his first three matches in convincing fashion before defeating Edison’s Ray Adams, 6-2, in the finals. His twin brother, Julian, had a similar road to the championship at 132, winning his first three matches before edging Delta’s Cole Mattin, 3-1, in the finals, handing him just his fourth loss of the year.
Dylan D’Emilio (138) won three of his matches by fall, including in the finals when he pinned New Paris National Trail’s Peyton Lane in 1:35. It was the fourth state championship for D’Emilio, an incredible feat. In fact, he is just the 32nd wrestler in Ohio High School Athletic Association history to win four state titles. D’Emilio finishes his career with 210 victories. He went 54-3 this season.
Dustin Morgillo (145) won his first match, 7-1, before narrowly defeating Troy Christian’s Ryan Whitten, 5-3, in the quarterfinals. He added another victory and then defeated the top seed, Ashtabula St. John’s Nick Burgard, 5-1, in the finals.
The other state champions were Kevin Contos (152) and James Limongi (160). Contos won his four matches in convincing fashion, including by fall and technical fall before defeating Ashland Mapleton’s Beau Lefever in the finals, 9-2. Limongi, who finished with 178 career victories, won his four matches in easy fashion, including two by fall and the others by a combined score of 16-2.
Noah Koch (285) lost in the first round before rebounding to win five in a row to finish third. He beat Delta’s Dalton Richard, 4-1, in the consolation semifinals and defeated Kain Brossia by tiebreaker, 3-2. Brian Martin (195) just missed out on placing, losing his first match, winning his second and then falling, 6-5, to Oak Harbor’s Jake Sage. Jake Stewart (170) lost to Bridgeport’s Santino Kusic, 3-2, in the first round before falling to Mechanicsburg’s Jaron Patterson, 6-1.
“We had some adversity, we had some things to overcome, we had some injuries, (and) we didn’t get our whole lineup on the mat until the state dual tournament in Columbus,” Bergman said. “That just shows you there were a lot of ebbs and flows to the season. To see us peak at the right time was gratifying and it’s great for the guys. You want everyone to realize their potential.”
The program has come a long way in Bergman’s eight years as the head coach. “A lot of people have been huge catalysts for the growth we’ve had, and we have great kids who have bought in. The kids, their commitment level extends beyond March and that’s what helps us to climb the ladder,” he said. “A lot of these kids are smart, hardworking kids. It’s been a neat process, we’ve been really blessed. It’s been a steady climb and a lot of people, including our coaching staff, have helped make that possible.”
The Comets will have four wrestlers competing at the collegiate level next season. D’Emilio is headed to Ohio State, Oscar Sanchez will wrestle for Ohio University, Julian Sanchez is set to enroll at West Point and James Limongi will wrestle at Kent State.
“That’s what wrestling is about. It’s about setting yourself up for getting your degree. We hope for our guys that they don’t have to take out student loans, hopefully they get their education paid for,” said Bergman. “Wrestling teaches you life lessons and those lessons help you apply yourself in other areas. Dan Gable said, ‘Once you wrestle, everything else is easy.'”
The list of accolades extends beyond the state championship. The Comets also won the state dual tournament championship for the second consecutive season, went 28-0 in duals and won their seventh consecutive Northern Buckeye Conference title.