Kaufman runner-up, Knights 14th at Hoover tournament

Kaufman runner-up, Knights 14th at Hoover tournament

Image Credit: Justin Smith

The West Holmes High School wrestling team battled through illness and injury to place 14th in the 30-team North Canton Holiday Invitational Tournament held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17-18 at Hoover High School in North Canton.

Perennial Div. I powerhouse Wadsworth captured the team title with 229 points, followed by Wheeling Park, West Virginia with 195.5.

Louisville’s 168.5, Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit’s 144.5 and Holt, Michigan’s 114.5 rounded out the top-five teams. The Knights tallied 68 points in the ultra-tough tournament.

Three Knights including seniors Dylan Strouse and Tucker Kaufman and junior Mason Taylor fought through the adversity to garner top-eight podium finishes. Kaufman (144, 4-1, two falls) fared the best, earning runner-up honors. Strouse (138, 3-3, two falls) finished sixth, and Taylor (113, 4-2, two falls) scored a seventh-place finish.

Kaufman, in his first action since being an integral part of the Knights state semi-finalist football team, looked as though he hadn’t missed a beat on the mat. The returning state qualifier worked his way to the championship bout, courtesy of two pins, a major decision and decision. However, Kaufman would suffer a fall loss (3:10) to Wadsworth’s Nick Humphrys in the title match.

“Tucker was very excited to get back on the mat, and he had a great first tournament,” Knights fifth-year head coach Scott Vaughn said of Kaufman. “He looked like he hadn't missed any time at all because of football. This wasn't the easiest tournament to start your season with, but he did a great job.”

Kaufman was tabbed by Vaughn as the Knights Varsity Wrestler of the Week for his performance.

Strouse chalked up two fall wins and eked out a one-point decision win to reach the championship semifinals. Facing eventual 132-pound champion Boots Van Dyke of Walsh Jesuit, Strouse couldn’t stay with Van Dyke, losing by a 20-7 major decision. The Knights returning state qualifier then dropped a tight 3-2 decision in the consolation semifinals and suffered the same fate against Brandyn Lucas of Wheeling Park in the fifth-place match. Strouse had beaten Lucas 1-0 in the championship quarterfinals.

“Dylan Strouse also had a good tournament,” Vaughn said. “He was wrestling really well and had some really close matches.”

Taylor scored a decision win and fall win to start off his tournament, then dropped his championship quarterfinal match to Joey Romano of Mentor Lake Catholic, the eventual 113-pound champion, in a hard-fought 11-8 decision loss. Taylor, a returning state placer, came back in the consolation fourth round with a fall win before dropping another hard-fought 6-2 decision in the consolation quarterfinals. Taylor received a forfeit win in the seventh-place match.

“Mason Taylor might have had the deepest weight class of the tournament, competitiveness wise,” Vaughn said of Taylor’s bracket. “He had a lot of good matches. They just didn't all come out on our side.”

Also competing for the Knights were AAJ Roberts (freshman, 106, 1-2, one fall), Grady Toye (sophomore, 120, 0-2), Noah Tish (senior, 126, 1-2), Morgan Smith (freshman, 132, 2-2, one fall), Blake Norman (junior, 150, 2-2, one fall), Cole Porter (freshman, 157, 1-2, one fall), Hunter Eberhard (senior, 150, 0-2 as an extra) and Gabe Averbukh (sophomore, Hwt., 0-2).

“Overall, I am proud of how the team competed,” Vaughn said. “This is an ultra-tough tournament with a lot of the best kids in the state. That's why we come to Hoover. We have a third of our team out right now with sickness or injury. Most of the kids that wrestled today weren't feeling well either. I think that is important that they learned how to be their best, even when they weren't feeling the best.”