NORTH JACKSON - Liberty's Logan Weinreber woke up on Saturday not feeling real well thanks to a bout with the flu that he's been dealing with for most of the week.
He went home from the 2014 Johnny's Excavating Jackson-Milton Invitational feeling much better.
Weinreber, a 182-pound junior, started to get sick earlier in the week, but he didn't let the illness keep him from attending practice.
"If I'm sick, I'll still try to come (to practice)," he said. "I try not to miss. If you miss too many days, then you're not going to be in condition, you're not going to have all the moves you should and you're just not going to know everything.
"I was sick Friday, and I was throwing up and stuff. I came today, and I still wasn't feeling 100 percent, but I gave it my all."
His all was just enough in the championship of the 182-pound weight class. Weinreber escaped in the final seconds of double overtime to beat Jackson-Milton's Anthony Italiano, 3-2.
The title was the first for Weinreber. In fact, it was the first time he's ever placed at a tournament (not including a runner-up finish in a JV tournament two years ago). Liberty coach Hadi A. Hadi said the 5-foot-10 Weinreber also was wrestling a weight class heavier than he normally would because it was the best way for the team to score points. The team-first attitude is something Hadi hopes the rest of the Leopards recognize after Weinreber, who weighed in at 168.8 pounds, surprised a few of his teammates with his performance.
"He doesn't miss practice, so that goes a long way," Hadi said. "The past three to four weeks, he's probably made the most progress of anyone in the (practice) room. What's making sense to him is the positioning. He's starting to understand the concept of positioning, and that goes a long way in this sport."
Weinreber said he wasn't nervous going into the match despite this being his first taste of a championship bout. He said he's always calm entering a wrestling match because he's learned over the years that it allows him to keep his focus.
"I try not to overanalyze because that's what leads to failure," he said. "I don't think about it. I react to what happens in the match as it happens."
He hardly had the energy to think in the finals.
He admitted to being exhausted as the two entered the first overtime tied at 1. The match stayed tied after the first extra period, but Italiano escaped during the first, 30-second period of double-OT. Italiano made a critical mistake in the second, 30-second period of double overtime when he locked his hands, resulting in a penalty point. Weinreber then escaped with around 10 seconds left and avoided a takedown in the final moments.
"He wrestles kind of unorthodox," Hadi said of Weinreber's style. "He's kind of like a counter wrestler. He capitalizes on other kids' mistakes. And, he was in better shape than that kid in the finals, and that proved it in double overtime."
CHIEF OF THE INDIANS: Being in good condition wasn't as significant for Girard's Nick Cardiero. That's because the 170-pound senior was only on the mat for a total of 6 minutes, 6 seconds in his three matches Saturday. He pinned all of his opponents and was named the tournament MVP.
Cardiero, who was a few points away from earning a trip to the state tournament last year, said the MVP was the first of his career and a great accomplishment, but his sights remain on the postseason.
"This is my last year, and I've wrestled for 12 years of my life - ever since first grade," he said. "I've always wanted to make it to state and get on that podium. These MVP trophies and all that stuff, that's just a little perk. It builds my confidence."
The Indians placed third as a team with 130 points despite missing four regular starters. Rootstown won the tournament with 198.5 points. Jackson-Milton was second with 181, and Pymatuning Valley was fourth with 112..