Fitch wrestlers finish off outstanding season

COLUMBUS — There have been a lot of great seasons in the 49-year history of Austintown Fitch wrestling.

The Falcons have a four-time state champion in Tony Jameson (2005-08), a national champion in Steve Sletvold (1997) and six individual state championships, among many other accomplishments.

The year 2018 will be another one to add to the record books.

Fitch had three wrestlers place at the State Wrestling Individual Tournament on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center, marking the second time in school history three wrestlers placed in the same season. Senior Breylon Douglas led the way, taking fifth at 195 pounds. Fellow senior Michael Ferree was eighth at 160, and junior Gus Sutton finished eighth at 126.

The Falcons’ fourth state qualifier, Colin Roberts, was one match away from placing and was the first Fitch freshman to qualify for state since Jameson.

“Three state placers is awesome,” Fitch coach John Burd said. “The guys had a great season. I’m just proud of Breylon, Mikey and Gus for putting together a great season. And obviously Colin, too. He got down here and won a match; all four guys won a match. Having three state placers is a pretty good feeling for the program. It’s something to build on for the future.”

As good of a tournament as the Falcons were having, the placement round wasn’t going that well, until Douglas pulled off a miraculous victory.

He was trailing Matt Baker of Cincinnati LaSalle, 13-0, in the third period. If Baker scored two more points, the match was over by way of technical fall. Douglas didn’t give him that chance. The senior locked up a bear hug, stepped over Baker as he fell to the ground and secured his 40th pin of the season – a school record.

“I just kept it in my head that it’s not over until it’s over,” said Douglas, who will wrestle at Lock Haven University after graduation. “A pin only takes two seconds. I just had to keep going, keep wrestling. I couldn’t stop.”

Douglas, who only started wrestling three years ago, finished with a 52-7 record as a senior.

Ferree, who also plans to wrestle in college, finished 50-6, was a two-time state qualifier, a one-time placer and finished with 138 career victories (seventh best in Fitch history). Sutton ends his junior year with a 46-3 record and can become only the second three-time state placer in Fitch history as a senior (he took fifth as a sophomore).

MATLOCK PART OF HOWLAND HISTORY: Howland’s Brandon Matlock became the 10th two-time state placer in school history.

The senior finished fourth at 220 pounds in Division II, matching his fourth-place finish as a junior. He finished with a 32-10 record as a senior, and he seemed to be at his best at the state tournament each of the past two seasons.

“It’s just the atmosphere brings a lot of competition out of you,” said Matlock of why he peaked at the state tournament. “There’s a lot of people there watching you, and with all the other wrestlers there, you know you have to do good.”

The fact that he advanced to state with his close friend and teammate Chris Julian, who competed at 285 pounds, made the weekend even better.

“It was a really good experience,” he said. “There were a lot of nerves going into it, just being really exciting to be here. It was a great weekend though, a lot of memories and everything.”

OTHER PLACERS: Canfield led the Mahoning Valley with four state placers.

Aside from David Crawford and Tyler Stein being state finalists, sophomore Anthony D’Alesio placed third at 170 pounds in Division II, improving on his fourth-place finish as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Nick Crawford placed fifth at 195 pounds.

Garfield’s Logan Kissell finished his career as the school’s first four-time state placer, taking third at 145 pounds in Division III.