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Aurora -- With some renewed health to start the season, the Aurora High wrestling team should be a major threat next year. The off season will play a major role, as always.
Longtime mentor Dick Bliss has a bright future with his roster, which will return nine of 10 of the Greenmen's district qualifiers. This season, however, started slow because of injuries.
Aurora placed second in the Chagrin Valley Conference, won a sectional team championship, and placed seventh in district action while competing in Division I for the first time. The Greenmen were 24th in Ohio overall.
A successful regular season also saw the locals win the team title at the Upper Arlington Invitational, garner a runnerup showing at the Hudson Invitational, plus place fourth at its own Paulie McGhee Invitational and at the Perry Pin City Invitational.
"Overall, this is a team that battled and work extremely hard, and improved as the year went on," said Bliss.
"Our first year in Division I, we were a bit concerned about how the kids would react and they were fine. Due to their efforts, we can now say Aurora has won sectional championships in all three divisions."
Bliss will miss a small, but gifted senior class of Andrew Petersen, Brian Evans, Kevin Boysza and Sal Petrash.
"One of the toughest things in coaching is saying goodbye to your seniors," said the mentor. "This class is no exception; they will all be missed."
Petersen, due to a broken foot, had a short season and was 11-1. He ended his career with a sparkling 82-33 record, and made honorable mention all-CVC. "Andrew was on track to break our 100-win club prior to his injury. He will be missed,"Bliss said.
"Injuries were a problem as Petersen started off well, winning at the Paulie McGhee and Upper Arlington tournaments, but then broke his foot in the Hudson tournament. Thankfully, we had Petrash to step in."
Evans finished 30-17 overall at 160 and 170 pounds, as he placed sixth at district, fourth at sectional and was a second-team all-CVC pick as a league runnerup.
In addition, Evans placed second at Upper Arlington, fourth at the Paulie McGhee and fifth at Hudson and Perry. He departs with a 75-49 career mark.
"Brian bounced back and forth between 160 and 170 to help the team, and give a bit of relief to one of our freshmen," said Bliss.
Boysza capped his three-year career with an 11-19 record in a rugged 145-pound class. He finished with 37 career wins, was fifth at Upper Arlington, sixth at Perry and sixth at the Matteucci Invitational.
"Kevin has been a starter for the past three years, and without a doubt had the toughest individual schedule on the team this year," Bliss said.
Petrash helped with the absence of Petersen and ended 26-17 overall as a second-team all-CVC performer, who was fifth in sectional action. He finished 59-51 in his career.
As a runnerup at Upper Arlington, Petrash also was third at the Salem Invitational, fourth in the CVC and fourth at the McGhee tourney.
"Sal did not look like he would have a starting job this year, but he worked hard, took advantage of Andrew's injury and did an excellent job," said Bliss.
Next season, Aurora will return a slew of regulars, including nine district qualifiers and two state placers in sophomore Josh Burger and freshman standout Jarrod Brezovec.
At 106 pounds, Brezovec showed his potential, placing fourth in Ohio. He won titles in sectional action, the CVC, the Paulie McGhee, Upper Arlington and Hudson, and was third at district.
Burger went 34-11 at 285 pounds and finished eighth in Ohio in Division I. He was a district and sectional runnerup who made second team all-CVC.
Winning crowns at the Upper Arlington and Hudson Invitationals, Burger was also second at the McGhee event and placed third at Perry.
Juniors who will return who were district qualifiers will be Josh Whitelaw (30-6 at 113), Brian McNamara (5-4 at 220), A.J. Suchovsky (26-18 at 195) and Angus Nietert (18-18 at 182).
Whitelaw was a first-team all-CVC pick as he won titles at sectionals, CVC, McGhee and at Upper Arlington. He also was runnerup at Hudson.
A second-team all-CVC athlete, Suchovsky was second at Upper Arlington, while placing third in sectionals, the CVC and McGhee. Nietert was fourth at the tough sectional at 182. He was a runnerup at Upper Arlington and third at the McGhee.
McNamara came back from an injury to be a sectional runnerup and, if healthy, can be one of the top big men in the area next year. He was aided by junior Dean Hayden.
"Prior to the season, McNamara looked to be our 220, but in the last football game he broke his leg in three places and missed most of the year," said Bliss.
Managing to place second in sectionals and qualify for districts, McNamara got his feet wet with only one match prior to the postseason. "Fortunately, we had Dean Hayden, who stepped in and did an excellent job," said the mentor.
Hayden went 22-15 at 220 pounds, where he made honorable mention all-CVC. He also won the Cardinal Invitational, was second at Salem, fourth at Hudson and sixth in the CVC.
Other district qualifiers who will be back are sophomores Danny Novak and Cole Gavin and freshman Bubba Arslanian.
Arslanian had a superb frosh season as he was sixth in districts and sectional runnerup, while going 32-14 at 152 pounds. He won the Salem Invitational and was a second-team all-CVC pick after placing fourth. A pair of third places at Hudson and at Upper Arlington also dented Arslanian's resume, which will grow.
Novak competed in 43 matches at 120, where he went 26-17 and was a second-team all-CVC choice and sectional runner up. He won at Upper Arlington and was fourth in the CVC.
Gavin was another sectional runnerup as a sophomore. He went 21-18 at 138 with a title at Upper Arlington.
Two more sophomores -- Justin Rosselot and Carter Driscoll -- also saw extensive action. Rosselot was 15-10 at 106, where he was runnerup at Salem and Cardinal. Driscoll was 11-9 at 132, where he was third at Salem.
Three other freshmen saw action in J.T. Rose (11-26 at 160-170), Will Lovell (11-14 at 145) and Jordan Pollard (2-10 at 138).
Pollard and freshman teammate Dominic Stuber were expected to be the team's breakout freshmen, but they were plagued by injuries.
"We had a very strong freshman class led by Brezovec and Arslanian," said Bliss. "However, two of our brightest young wrestlers were sidelined for most of the season with cracked vertebrae. Stuber and Pollard did wrestle, but they were really limited in opportunities."
"The future looks bright," added the veteran coach.
Others on the final roster who hope to impact next year include junior Brian Kingure, sophomores Josh Kane, Alex Nelson and Aaron Ruiz and freshmen Gavan Baker, Kain Beaston, Connor Bizjak, Matt Crissman and Josh Loudon.