Norton wrestlers looking to move past sectionals
NORTON — Norton High School wrestling head coach Gene Leonard said this year’s team is comprised of wrestlers “both young and old — there’s no in between.”
“Basically, either I have freshmen or I have seniors,” he said. “The freshman class has been pretty good for us this year.”
Leading the way for the freshmen, the coach said, are Cameron Baughman (106 pounds), Kuaid Ivy (113 pounds) and Nick Farmer (132 pounds).
“We’re going to have the ability to score some points not just this year, but also for the next three years with those guys,” Leonard stated. “They are quality wrestlers and we’re just going to be able to reload.”
On the other end of the experience spectrum are the seniors. The starters from the senior class this season, with comments on each by the coach, are:
- Allan Beddow (126 pounds): “Allan is a hard-nosed kid who seems to wrestle to the ability of the kid he’s wrestling. He should get out of the sectionals into the districts, and he’s got an outside shot of getting out of the districts. He’s been a starter for me for four years, and he’s had over 20 wins each of the last three years. He was the runner-up in the league, losing by one point, and other kids hate to have to wrestle against him because he wrestles very aggressively.”
- Mike Dyer (170 pounds): “Mike was the PTC champion, and he’s picked to win the sectionals, which says a lot. He should get out of districts and make it to the state.”
- Erik Brown (195 pounds): “Erik has the ability to pin anybody. He’s always in the match. He’s a thrower, and if he puts you on your back early on, he’s probably going to win the match.”
- John Glas (285 pounds): “He has only been wrestling since eighth grade, and he is probably the most improved wrestler that I’ve had in a while. He took first in the PTC tournament, where he beat the defending PTC champion, who had pinned him earlier in the year. He’s very coachable, and he has an outstanding chance to make it to state.”
Another key wrestler on this year’s squad, Leonard said, is junior Sean Rutherford (220 pounds).
“He’s my big gun,” the coach said. “He took seventh in the state as a freshman, and he took third last year as a sophomore. He’s picked to win the state this year and next year. I believe he’s 22-0 right now and all his wins are by pins. He won the Dies Tournament — a 43-team tournament — by pinning all five kids he faced.”
Leonard said Norton has a 6-3 overall record in dual meets and a 4-2 mark in the Portage Trail Conference’s (PTC) Metro Division.
“Coming into the season, I wanted to finish second,” he said. “I knew it would be tough to beat Crestwood, but after the results of the PTC meet — which combines the Metro and the County, so there are 14 teams in it — we were able to take second place. We were actually only a few points from winning the whole thing, so I’m very pleased.”
The sectionals will begin this weekend, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. and Feb. 15 at 10 a.m., at Northwest High School in Canal Fulton, and Leonard said the primary objective for his team is clear.
“I’m hoping we beat Coventry, and if we do, we will probably win the sectionals. That’s basically our biggest competition of the 12 teams that will be there,” he said. “We actually lost to Coventry twice this season. We had to wrestle them in the state duals, and then we had to wrestle them in our regular league. They beat us at home in the last match of the season, but they didn’t beat us in the overall league tournament. They had one champion there and we had three.”
Leonard said his team is wrestling at its peak right now.
“We’ve done better in each tournament we’ve been in this year,” he said. “We’re just getting better and better and better each time out, and I see good things coming for us in the future.”
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