BOARDMAN - Howland High School wrestling coach Bill Beasom didn't appear tired after the awards ceremony at the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League Tournament on Saturday, which was a bit odd.
The fourth-year coach spent about 20 minutes raising his arms to give plaques to the wrestlers on the awards podium. Handing out the hardware is the job of the coach whose wrestler won the weight class, and Beasom's boys won three straight for the second consecutive year.
Senior Gabe Stark started the run when he captured his second straight EOWL title at 145 pounds. Sophomores David-Brian Whisler (152 pounds) and Jordan Radich (160) followed with championships of their own. Stark, Whisler and recently graduated Robbie Klose won three straight weight classes last year for the Tigers, so Beasom had some practice.
"Six (champions) in two years is pretty good," Beasom said. "Our kids did everything within their capabilities. They just keep getting better every week, and I think we're starting to peak a little bit at the end. David-Brian had a great tournament, Gabe continues to have great tournaments and Jordan, this is probably the best I've ever seen him wrestle in high school. So, I think it's all starting to click at the right time."
The Tigers' three champions tied West Branch for the most by any school. Howland finished third overall with 170 points at the 20-team tournament. They were the second highest EOWL, Division I team, trailing only Canfield (204 points). West Branch, a Division II team, was the overall winner with 236 points.
The titles by Whisler and Radich, who are first cousins, were especially impressive because they came during their sophomore year. As mentioned, Whisler, one of the state's top-ranked wrestlers, won the league tournament last year, so his was somewhat expected, but Radich has just recently came on as one of the Tigers' best individuals.
Radich said much of his success is because of Whisler, drill partner at practice.
"We definitely teach each other a lot," Radich said. "When I see something he gets beat with in a match, I try to do that to him in practice to see if I can get him and see if he's learned. And he does the same to me. We're always pushing each other."
Nico Lucarelli (113) and Josh Grodesky (182) were runners-up for Howland, while Alex Cornicelli (126) took third and Mike Bell (285) fifth.
EOWL DIVISION WINNERS: Poland placed first out the Division III teams with 129 team points. The Bulldogs' Mike and Anthony Audi, brothers, were both runners-up at 170 and 160 pounds, respectively. Grand Valley won Division IV with 75.5 points. Glen Zaller, 182 pounds, finished first for the Mustangs in one of the more difficult weight classes at the tournament. Austintown Fitch placed third in Division I and fourth overall with 140 points. Girard was second in Division III and eighth overall with 84.5 points.