CUYAHOGA FALLS: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy senior wrestler Nathan Tomasello’s long list of accomplishments got a little longer Saturday night when he won his third Ironman Wrestling Tournament title in The Dome at Walsh Jesuit High School.
The Ironman welcomed the top wrestlers from 18 different states, and has been called “The nation’s top wrestling tournament” by Sports Illustrated.
Tomasello, an Ohio State recruit, looked comfortable and in control and pinned Blair Academy senior Matt Kolodzik 3:22 into the match to win the 120-pound title. That’s his third title in as many weight classes and in as many years. And he made it look easy.
“To win three times in a row, it’s unthinkable,” Tomasello said. “Putting in so much work, it feels amazing.”
Tomasello came out from the opening whistle and controlled the pace of the match, scoring three points in the first period. He then scored two more points with a hard takedown in the second period before ending with match with a pin not long after.
Tomasello knew wrestlers would try to stay close with him, but he made sure to control the tempo.
“I knew I had to push the pace,” he said. “I knew he was going to back up a little bit. I’m the senior, I’m the oldest guy here. I needed to stay on the attack. He wanted to keep it close; I wanted to keep going at him, making him move a little bit. And that’s what I was able to do.”
As he’s gotten older, going on the attack has become Tomasello’s claim to fame.
“Some of the guys I wrestle try to keep the match close, and I don’t like doing that,” he said. “I like opening it up, really attacking, making them wrestle at my pace.”
When asked where this tournament ranks on the wrestling schedule, CVCA coach Dave Bergen didn’t say a word but raised up his finger in the “No. 1” position.
“It’s the best tournament in the country, I think, hands down,” Bergen said. “We’re all human — the pressure of going for your third title and having your face plastered on the program, those guys face that pressure. He might go out and be conservative ... but his style is intense, beating you up with his hands. Our philosophy is ‘Whistle to whistle, edge to edge.’ He embodies that better than anybody I’ve seen, and I’ve been around for 18 years.”
Tomasello was thrilled to be consistent with such a talented field.
“If you slip up one little thing, all of a sudden you’re on your back and you could be pinned,” he said. “You gotta be on your game every single match, every single second. I was able to do that for three years. Thank God for giving me the talent to do this.”
Perry sophomore Jose Rodriguez was mere seconds from an Ironman title in the 106-pound class but had it stolen in the final moments.
Rodriguez was leading 1-0 in the third set before St. Paris Graham sophomore Eli Stickley was able to score two points on a reversal just before the final whistle.
“I’m happy with my tournament, but not satisfied,” Rodriguez said. “Coming all the way to the finals and not winning, it happens. I really needed to capitalize on all the little mistakes that happened throughout the match.”
Also in that weight class was Walsh Jesuit freshman Alex Mackall, who took fourth. In the 120-pound class, Perry junior David Bavery took seventh. Also from Perry was senior JoJo Tayse, who took fifth at 220 pounds, and junior Tony Dailey, who finished in sixth place at 152 pounds. Rootstown junior Travis Linton took seventh in the 182-pound class and senior Jake Moore took fifth at the 285-pound weight class. At 126 pounds, Massillon senior Ivan McClay finished in fourth place. And St. Vincent St. Mary junior Ryan Skonieczny took eighth place at 138 pounds.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.