DelGarbino’s move to heavyweight pays off

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Simon Girard’s Jack DelGarbino, left, faces off against Alex Leasure of Alliance Saturday.

AUSTINTOWN — Jack DelGarbino swears he only notices a slight difference, but it sure seems like his opponents feel the change significantly more.

The Girard junior wrestled in the 220-pound weight class last year and finished fourth in the state. That tied the school record for the highest placement at the state tournament, but fourth wasn’t the goal.

So, this offseason, aside from wrestling at numerous national tournaments, DelGarbino spent some time in the weight room — a lot of time.

The the 6-foot-2 DelGarbino is now wrestling in the 285-pound weight class, and while he’s still about 15 pounds under the maximum weight, he sure looks powerful at 270 pounds.

“I feel about the same,” said DelGarbino of whether he notices the difference in strength. “Well, maybe a little (more powerful).”

The rest of the 285-pound weight class at this weekend’s Eastern Ohio Wrestling League Tournament sure felt the difference.

DelGarbino, the state’s No. 1-ranked 285-pound wrestler in Division II, placed first among a formidable heavyweight field on Saturday that boasted eight wrestlers ranked in the state. He pinned first three opponents and beat Alex Leasure (ranked 10th in Division II) of Alliance, 3-0, in the championship match to remain undefeated and earn his second-consecutive EOWL title.

“Top of the podium at the state tournament,” said DelGarbino of his expectations this year. “It’s pretty much doing the same (to get there), just keep working out hard and get better at my positions.”

BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS: Canfield claimed the overall team trophy for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four seasons. The Cardinals crowned two champions (returning state champ David Crawford and junior David Reinhart) and had 11 overall wrestlers finish in the top eight.

The title comes just three days after Canfield earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the OHSAA Dual Team State Tournament. The Cardinals became the first Mahoning Valley team to earn a trip to St. John’s Arena in Columbus, where the final eight teams in each division clash to decide the team state champion.

“When we enter in anything, we’re not going in (expecting) to lose,” first-year Canfield coach Steve Pitts said of their EOWL expectations. “To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after (winning the regional team title) Wednesday and how exciting that was and everyone going through that process. But our kids responded well. They always do. I shouldn’t be worried. Our kids like to compete, and if you have that, you’ll be all right.”

The Cardinals finished with 231.5 team points, beating Fitch’s 211. Beaver Local was third with 178.5.

FALCONS IMPRESS IN FINALS: Fitch crowned three champions and had a strong showing in the finals despite losing two of their better wrestlers to injury.

Gus Sutton (126 pounds) and Michael Ferree (160) both beat their opponents by 15 points in their championship matches to each earn a technical fall. Breylon Douglas (195) beat top-seeded Landon Talbert of Crestview, 4-2, in his title bout.

Sutton, a junior coming off a sixth-place finish at the state tournament in 2017 and a sixth-place mark at one of the nation’s hardest offseason tournaments in Fargo, North Dakota, allowed just three points in the tournament.

“With Gus, that confidence is sky high from the offseason and that state tournament run last year,” Fitch coach John Burd said. “He’s really understanding the sport, and it’s slowing down for him, which obviously is making him a lot better.”

Overall, the Falcons won six out of their 10 finals matches (one was injury default) and might have had a chance to give Canfield a run for first place if not for injuries to A.J. Stehura (182 pounds) and Brock Kimble (220).

DIVISION WINNERS: The EOWL is divided into four divisions and awards titles to each divisional champion. Canfield was the winner in Division I, with Alliance taking Division II (175 team points). Pymatuning Valley won Division II for the second straight year (106 points), and Crestview won Division IV with 105 points.

EOWL HOF: Nine former wrestlers were inducted into the EOWL Hall of Fame on Saturday. The inductees were as follows: Johnny Matacic (Jackson-Milton), Brian Demidovich (Liberty), Robby Reed (Canfield), Steve Wall (Howland), Vinnie Pizzuto (Jackson-Milton), Matt Walker (Alliance), Joe Murray (Fitch) and Jan McPeek (Columbiana).