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Girard cruises through

Indians looking forward to next round

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Simon Girard’s Dakota McCloskey, top, works to secure a pinning combination against Edgewood’s Andrew Hull during a quarterfinal of the State Wrestling Dual Team Tournament at Girard High School. McCloskey won the bout, 6-0, and Girard won the match to advance to the semifinal round.

GIRARD — There weren’t too many tense moments for Girard in its first two matches of the Division II, Region 11 State Wrestling Dual Team Tournament.

Heck, a minor argument between coaches was one of the more entertaining junctures of the Indians’ two-match sweep Wednesday at Girard High School.

That will change in six days.

Top-seeded Girard moved on to the regional semifinal with wins over Hubbard (71-12) and fourth-seeded Ashtabula Edgewood (57-17). They’ll face No. 2 Geneva on Feb. 1 at Lake Catholic High School and, with a victory, would match up against either Mentor Lake Catholic or Perry in a regional final.

Indians coach Jim Cardiero isn’t going to spend the next few days breaking down film of Geneva or figuring out what weight classes to put different wrestlers. The gameplan is simple.

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Simon Girard’s Jack DelGarbino, top, attempts to pin Edgewood’s Nick McAfee in a 220-pound bout Wednesday at Girard High School. DelGarbino later secured the pin, and the Indians moved on to the regional semifinals with a win over the Warriors.

“Here’s my best. Beat me if you can,” he said. “That’s pretty much my philosophy.”

Girard’s best was plenty Wednesday.

The Indians trailed Hubbard 6-0 before winning 12 of the next 13 matches (including seven by pin) in a dominant victory. The dual against Edgewood, which beat West Geagua, 48-30, in its first match, was a bit closer. Michael Belcik gave the Indians, now 7-0 in duals, some momentum when he came back from a 6-5 deficit in the third period and secured a 10-7 victory.

While the win brought a rather raucous crowd to its feet, it was the energy in which a few wrestlers displayed that caught Cardiero’s attention.

“He was one of the guys I didn’t think wrestled with good energy,” he said. “He made a lot of mistakes. Michael’s normally better than that. He wrestled good enough to come back and score when he had to score, which is the sign of experience, but he didn’t wrestle with a lot of energy, and he knows it. He came right off and told me he didn’t wrestle well. When you win matches not wrestling well, that’s a good thing for your team.”

The Warriors held a 17-15 lead, but Girard rattled off eight straight wins to easily pull away. An Indians’ victory at 220 pounds seemed to bother Edgewood after a wrestler was injured during the match. The coaches exchanged a few words following the bout and again when the match ended, but that was the extent of the dispute.

When a trip to the regional semifinal is on the line, tempers can flare.

“There’s a lot (of pressure),” said Girard senior captain Jake Roviscanec, who pinned his Edgewood opponent in 1 minute, 27 seconds at 182 pounds after receiving a forfeit against Hubbard. “It just comes down to who wants it more — who works harder and who has more heart.”

Roviscanec and fellow senior captain Dakota McCloskey, who also won both his matches Wednesday, have been the heart of Girard this year, leading by example with a no-nonsense, hard-working approach. The soul of Girard comes from younger wrestlers who give the Indians the energy they need on a daily basis.

“As far as working hard, (Roviscanec) and Dakota, they’re my workers in the room,” Cardiero said. “Leading by example is important. I’ve got some young kids, Dustin Allen and Jamil Bannister, that when they’re in the room with energy, it brings the whole room up. We need guys like that. They’re rah-rah guys — jumping up and down and calling people out — and it makes the practice fun and it makes everyone wrestle hard.”

The Indians need everyone on board to continue to advance. That shouldn’t be a problem, according to Roviscanec, because dual meets bring out the best in Girard.

“Dual matches are probably my favorite thing to go to just because the whole team is there, we’re all supporting each other,” said Roviscanec, who pointed out how teammates are scattered all over during an individual tournament. “I like dual meets more because we’re all together. We’re all cheering each other on.”

They’ll get another chance to do that, with even more on the line, at 5 p.m. on Feb. 1 against Geneva.

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