FROM STAFF REPORTS
Aurora -- The "bookends" of the Aurora High School wrestling team battled through a tough Division I district tournament and emerged as state tournament qualifiers.
JB and JB -- Jarrod Brezovec and Josh Burger -- qualified, while Bubba Arslanian and Brian Evans each placed sixth in the district to help the Greenmen to a seventh-place team finish.
Freshman Brezovec (106 pounds) opened with a 6-3 win, then earned an 11-2 major decision over a Madison foe he had beaten in the Perry Invitational, before losing to a Massillon Perry opponent.
He outlasted an Austintown Fitch foe 3-1, then earned a 5-2 victory to claim third place. He will take a 41-3 record to Columbus.
Sophomore Burger (285) opened with a pin in 1:38, then won a tough 1-0 match and pinned a Valley Forge opponent in 3:24. He came up short, 1-0, in the finals to earn second place, and will take a 32-8 mark to Columbus.
Freshman Arslanian (152) opened with a 7-0 win, lost to a Bedford foe, won a 6-4 overtime match after a last-second reversal and beat a North Royalton foe 5-2 with a takedown in the final seconds.
He then lost in the qualifying match to finish 32-14 in his first varsity season.
Senior Evans (160) won 4-2 in his opening match, won by forfeit on a disqualification, beat a Maple Heights foe 3-2, but lost in the qualifying match to end the year with a 30-17 record and career mark of 63-31.
Junior Josh Whitelaw won two matches at 113 and finished with a 30-6 record, and junior A.J. Suchovsky won two matches at 195 to finish 26-18.
Junior Brian McNamara (220) won one match 5-2. Others who wrestled at the district were sophomores Danny Novak (120) and Cole Gavin (138) and junior Angus Nietert (182).
Massillon Perry dominated the 48-team tourney and will send 11 to the state event.
"Being our first year in Division I, we felt our wrestlers grow, with an understanding that we can definitely compete in this division," said coach Dick Bliss. "A very good sign for the future."
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Division I wrestling at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus will begin Feb. 27 at 5:45 p.m., continue Feb. 28 at 11:20 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and March 1 at 10 a.m., with finals at 5:30 p.m. Bliss said the expected conclusion will be about 9:45 p.m.
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Bliss' weekly awards are:
Top wrestler -- Burger; most exciting match -- Arslanian's 6-4 overtime win against St. Ignatius; key match -- Brezovec's 3-1 win in the "to go"match; most takedowns -- Brezevoc with eight; fastest pin -- Burger at 1:38 against John Adams, edging out Whitelaw's at 1:40 against Willoughby South.
Coach's awards -- Whitelaw, Suchovsky, Evans and McNamara. About the latter, Bliss said, "No one except himself expected to see him back on the mat this season after his football broken leg. But he earned a trip to districts."
Top practice wrestler -- Sal Petrash, who was an alternate to the district. "With no assurance he would be able to compete, he worked hard all week to help get his teammates ready," Bliss said. He ended with a 26-17 record for the year and 46-30 career mark; top sophomore effort -- Burger; top freshman effort -- Brezovec.