Three D-II wrestlers advance

SEE ALSO: Spartans’ Graziani wins district crown

By Matthew Peaslee


A bruised right hand and a stinging left shoulder would hold most people back from working to their full potential.

Not Robby Klose.

The Howland senior fought through great pain during his consolation semifinal match and won in an 8-4 decision over Perry’s Alec Schenk. Up next was a bout for third place in the Division II, 145-pound weight class, a berth in the state tournament and the potential 100th victory of Klose’s career.

If it was up to somebody else — he would not have stepped foot on that mat.

“I tweaked [my shoulder] and it really was killing me,” he said. “They wanted to hold me out of the match, altogether. But I said there was no way they were doing that.”

With an agonized look throughout the bout with Jeff Hojnacki of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Klose never trailed and won in a 7-2 decision, earning his first trip to the state tournament.

“A lot was riding on that match getting to state and all,” Klose said. “Then, I found out I was going for 100 so that gave me extra motivation to suck it up.”

His Tiger teammate, junior Gabe Stark, also qualified for state. He came in second place in the 138-pound division.

“It feels good,” Stark said. “It’s what everybody works for all year long.”

He won his first three district matches, but ran into trouble with defending state champion and No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state, Nate Skonieczny of Walsh Jesuit. Skonieczny, who is going to Iowa — one of the top programs in the Big Ten — contained Stark in a 21-5 technical fall in the second round of the match.

Stark said it was definitely a measuring stick for next week’s competition.

“I just went out there and gave him everything I had,” he said. “It was just for fun. He’s a returning state champion and all.”

Alex Cornicelli of Howland won a come from behind 15-13 decision over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Walt Gibson to earn fifth place in the 126-pound weight class. The junior will be an alternate.

“The whole team worked real hard all year,” Stark said. “Everybody pushes everybody and our coaches did a good job of peaking us at the right time.”

Klose added, “We still need to practice hard this week. The work isn’t done yet. I’m leaving it all on that mat next week.”

As Friday’s first-round action came to a close, Canfield captain Anthony Spencer was confident somebody on the Cardinals team would move on to state. With a fourth place finish in the 113-pound division, Korey Frost is that somebody.

“It’s really an honor,” Canfield coach Dean Connelly said. “This is one of the toughest districts in the state. We’re all kind of cursed by geography. If you want to be part of this sport, you want to do it against the best kids.”

West Branch’s Mikey Estock won fifth place in the 139-pound class and will be an alternate.

CVCA won the team standings with 194.5 points.