FROM STAFF REPORTS
Aurora -- Junior Aurora Wrestlers finished the 2013-14 wrestling season very strong.
On Feb. 2, JAWs took 10 wrestlers to the district tournament in Garfield Heights and advanced six to the state tournament. Nic Willingham won a district title at 64 pounds by tech falling his first two foes, then finishing with 4-0 and 2-0 victories.
Shane Cheatham took second at 70 pounds with a first-round tech fall, followed by a 6-0 decision and a fall. In the finals, he wrestled a solid opponent from Brunswick and came up short 6-2.
The other four qualifiers went through the consolation brackets. A.J. Barner placed third at 95, while Bo DiJulius (56), Ben Rogge (76) and John Papesh (79) all placed fourth.
In the consolation semifinal matches to determine who advances to the state tournament, the locals were a perfect 4-0.
DiJulius flattened a Mayfield wrestler, and Rogge pinned a West Shore wrestler, leading to the two most exciting matches of the day.
Papesh squared off against a Twinsburg wrestler who beat him the previous week, and earned a solid 9-6 win. Barner faced off against a Maple Heights wrestler who had beaten him three times this year and won 3-2 in overtime.
Armen Perez (52), Dylan Delrosa (73), Brian Kennedy (82) and Jeffrey Burger (86) also competed, but couldn't get through. All will be back next year.
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On Feb. 8, six JAWs wrestlers competed at Akron Firestone High School in the Ohio youth wrestling championships. Willingham captured a crown at 64, DiJulius (56) was fourth and Papesh was sixth. As a team, Aurora was 10th out of 109.
Willingham began with two major decisions and was tied at zero heading into the third period against a North Akron wrestler. With seconds left, Willingham scored two points to win.
In the finals against a Copley wrestler, he scored a takedown in the first period to jump to a 2-0 lead. The score remained 2-0 heading into the third period, and Willingham went on to win 3-1.
DiJulius won his first match by fall, then had a solid 4-0 decision, lost to the eventual winner, had a tech fall in the consolation semis and lost his final match.
At 79 pounds, Papesh flattened a top seeded wrestler in the third period, lost 6-0, rebounded with a 23-second pin and rallied from behind to win 15-12.
Coach Shawn McNamara said, "No wrestler has more heart than John Papesh. He is never out of a match, no matter the odds."
Heartbreak awards went to Rogge and Cheatham. In their podium-deciding matches, both had chances for victory elude them, as they had last-second calls go against them.
Barner, feeling under the weather, battled byfore losing 3-2, followed up with a pin and then was knocked out .
The coaches were very pleased with the accomplishments of the team this year. The numbers were down in the upper weights; however, the quality of wrestlers shone brightly with the 10th-place finish. "We placed higher than any other community team in our area," said McNamara.