Four fourths for fighting wrestlers

Eddie Kerekes, Sports Editor

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During the summer months, wrestling mats are stored away, waiting for the leaves to begin to fall. As players work on conditioning at the gym, the mats just sit rolled up like burritos.

The Spartans’ varsity wrestling team finally rolled out those mats and began their season by hosting the Ohio Intercollegiate Open on Sunday, Nov. 13. Quite a few wrestlers performed well in the tournament, including three first-year students new to the program.

There were two divisions at the tournament, separating the collegiate wrestlers by experience. Underclassmen competed against one another in seven weight classes. The other division, which contained 10 weight classes, was open to any wrestler, though mostly upperclassmen competed. Most of the weight classes contained a double elimination bracket, ensuring every wrestler in those brackets at least two bouts.

Case Western Reserve University registered 11 of their 20 wrestlers for the tournament, competing in eight weight classes. Of those who competed, six student-athletes finished in sixth place or higher, though none placed higher than fourth.

Second-year student Gavin Dersh-Fisher impressed the most out of any CWRU wrestler. Competing at 197 pounds in the open bracket, he won two of his four bouts, finishing fourth. His first bout set the tone for the rest of the day. He started off by pinning Kent State University’s AJ Jones, a Division I wrestler, with 20 seconds remaining in the bout. Then, he faced second-year student and teammate Chris Zhang and defeated him 6-4 with a takedown in the first sudden victory period. Zhang lost his next bout, finishing 1-2 in the tournament.

Dersh-Fisher’s run to the finals came to an end against fourth-year student and third-year wrestler Luke Cramer from Ashland University, a Division II school. The older opponent racked up the points and won by technical fall 16-1. Fighting hard for third place in his next match, Dersh-Fisher dropped a 6-4 decision to Mike Smith from the Naval Academy, another Division I school.

Fresh off competing at the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association All-Star Classic, first-year student Isaac Collier nabbed fourth place in the 149 pound underclassmen weight class. After defeating Mott Community College’s Todd Noblin by four points, Collier won a thrilling 2-0 decision over Ashland’s Adam Kirresh. The Spartan dropped his next two bouts by major decision to wrestlers from Division I schools.

Competing in the same bracket, first-year student Michael Petersen finished in fifth. After losing a close 6-3 decision to Fernie Silva, Petersen won three straight bouts and pinned all three opponents. Even more impressive, all three of his pins came before one minute had even transpired.

First-year student Alec Hoover secured fourth place in the underclassmen 133 pound weight class with a 2-2 record. After pinning his first opponent just 15 seconds into the second period, Hoover crushed his second foe 16-0, winning by technical fall. He ran into tough competition in his next two bouts, losing to two Division I wrestlers.

Another Spartan wrestler to record a pin was third-year student Connor Gordon, doing so in his first bout against Austin Marsico in the open 165 pound weight class. Gordon lost his next two bouts, however, finishing the day in fourth place.

Before the tournament, Head Coach Danny Song said he “want[ed] to see guys who are looking to fight and battle for every position for the entirety of the match.” The Spartans lived up to his expectations, fighting hard throughout the tournament. Even the student-athletes who didn’t win bouts showed toughness and learned from the experience.

CWRU returns to the mats on Saturday, Nov. 19, traveling to the University of Findlay for the Findlay Open. The competition should be fierce, but the Spartans are more than ready for the challenge.