Aurora -- The Paulie McGhee Invitational at Aurora has long been a jumping off point for Portage County wrestling.
Based on the results Dec. 1, Rootstown could be in for a big season. The Rovers finished second in the team race with 184 points. Parma won the team title for the second straight year with 241 points.
The former Aurora Invitational was renamed this year in honor of Paulie McGhee, the Aurora wrestler who died in a car accident on Thanksgiving 2011.
Aurora managed a sixth-place finish with 117 points, just behind Kent Roosevelt's 130.5 points. Streetsboro placed ninth.
The host Greenmen had only one wrestler in the finals in 126-pounder D.J. Lieberth. Despite loud calls for a last-second takedown by Aurora fans, Lieberth lost a tight 7-6 decision to Parma's Chayse Csongedi.
However, coach Dick Bliss noted he had nine freshmen wrestling on varsity, as most of his starters from the football team did not wrestle. He noted four freshmen earned spots on the podium.
"We didn't really expect that," Bliss said. "We expected the kids to go out and learn. They did that. I was pretty proud of the kids that wrestled today. Nobody bailed on me. Everybody battled."
Parma dominated the lower weights as Anthony Ramos (113), Tyler Workman (120) and Csogedi all won individual titles. Bliss said the story of the week was the performance of the freshman class.
With six AHS freshmen in the varsity lineup and six others on the Green team, there were a dozen competing and 10 won at least one match. Four placed in the Gold tournament.
Leading the frosh was Josh Burger, a 240-pounder who battled in the heavyweight class. He recorded four pins and lost a 3-1 match in the semifinals, then came back to earn third place.
Danny Novak won three of six matches and took fifth place at 120 pounds. Freshmen Kevin Kidwell (106) and Austin Piunno (195) placed sixth. Kidwell had two pins and Piunno one.
JUNIOR BRIAN Evans went 5-2 and took third place at 145, while junior Micky Carrasco finished fourth after winning four matches. Junior Sal Petrash was fifth at 126, winning four matches.
Placing in the silver bracket, which was secondary to the championship bracket were: Kevin Boysza (152) and Sam McCoy (132), first; Justin Rosselot (106) and Carter Driscoll (132), third; and Josh Kane (170), fourth.
Other freshmen winning one or more matches were Hunter Jones (two pins), and Alex Nelson, Kevin Hutchins and A.J. Kimes, one pin each.
"In any case, a lot of wrestlers are getting an opportunity to improve," Bliss concluded.
Rootstown's two returning state qualifiers picked up where they left off last season.
At 182 pounds, Travis Linton tweaked his knee a bit in the finals, but scored a 17-2 technical fall over Parma's Josh Zeck.
Meanwhile, senior heavyweight Jake Moore won over Garaway's Ben Sexton in a match marred by blood timeouts.
Rovers second-year head coach Craig Wise said he was very pleased with his team's start.
"We wrestled well as a team," Wise said. "We're kind of moving in the right direction, slowly. It was a good way to start the season."
Rootstown also had sophomore 152-pounder Marco Oliver reach the finals, but he was pinned in 54 seconds by West Geauga's Rob Alcorn, who was named the most outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
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Bliss' weekly awards are:
Top wrestler -- Lieberth; most exciting match -- Evans in a semifinal bout was nearly reversed but hung on; fastest fall -- Boysza, a pin in 27 seconds; key match -- Evans; most takedowns -- Novak with eight.
Coach's award -- Novak. "We were very pleased with his competitiveness in his first varsity tourney," said Bliss; top practice wrestler SEmD Petrash, who Bliss said "works so hard"; best Green team effort -- Petrash; top frosh effort -- Burger.
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The varsity team will travel to Eastlake North Dec. 8 for the Matteucci Invitational, with action starting at 9 a.m. and finals at 6:30 p.m.
The Green team will go to the Cardinal varsity invitational in Middlefield, with action starting at 10 a.m. and finals in the afternoon.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4190