By Dan Gilles
Lakewood finished eighth in the 14-team Len Pariano Wrestling Invitational at Midpark High School with 90 points.
However, the Rangers accomplished something that no other team – not even first-place Stow – could do last Saturday.
The Rangers claimed three individual championships, William Abdel-Salam (132), Yassir Abdel-Salam (138) and Adam Feckley (145) forming the winning trio.
“They were all No. 1 seeds, so we kind of lived up to our seeding,” Lakewood coach Vinnie Curiale said. “We came out and wrestled pretty well. We still have our work cut out for us, but I was pleased with what I saw.
“I still think we can be better, but we’re going in the right direction at this time of year.”
William Abdel-Salam (28-1), a senior, got the ball rolling by holding off a tough Mike Hollingsworth from Clearview, 12-7, to claim the 132-pound championship.
“It feels good to win,” William Abdel-Salam said. “We all work hard in practice and it pays off. The way we wrestled tonight, that’s what we’ve got to do from here on out, especially when it comes down to the finals.
“Once the ref says, ‘Start wrestling,’ I just want to be aggressive. Every second counts in a match like that. You have to go out there and be aggressive and be a leader – show people how it’s done.”
Yassir Abdel-Salam (19-2), a sophomore, followed that with a 12-4 major decision over Elyria’s Justin Flanigan.
“(William) hadn’t seen that kid very much, so we didn’t know what kind of style he had,” Curiale said. “We want to go out and do what we do and do it good. But we were a little bit sloppy during that match.
“Yassir weighed in at ’32 and wrestled at ’38, so he was giving up some weight. He’s had some trouble keeping his weight down, so we bumped him up to 138 so he doesn’t lose his certification. I think he’s learning a lesson that these 138-pound kids are a lot stronger than what he’d see at 126.”
Feckley (25-3), a senior, finished things off by pinning Brookside’s Matt Thomas in 3:12.
“I think I still need to work a lot more,” William Abdel-Salam said. “There’s always more work to be done if you want to be the best. To me, I think I still need a lot of work. So, we’ll go back at it these next few weeks and get ready for conferences and beyond.”
Lakewood, which only brought seven wrestlers, got a fifth wrestler to place in the top six, when junior Ralph Johnson (4-1) pinned Columbia’s Brandon Medina in 4:58 to finish fifth at 152.
“Coach told me if I get tired, to work harder,” Johnson said. “So I just kept working harder and harder as I got tired. I was hoping for third or second or even first, but I’m happy with how I did.”
Curiale was pleased with the performance of his junior.
“Ralph is a kid who, as a freshman, didn’t make it to the third period once,” he said. “He’s starting to win some matches now as a junior. He’s coming along. The young guys are starting progress very well.”
Rocky River rounded out the area contingent at Midpark with an 11th-place finish, scoring 77.5 points. Mentor (10th, 83.5) was sandwiched right between the Pirates and the Rangers.
Rocky River did not get any wrestlers into a championship match, but did leave with five placers in the top six.
Of the three wrestlers going for third place, only one was victorious – senior Austin Suarez. Suarez (12-9) pinned Stow’s Mike Edwards in 2:05 to take third at 126.
Pat Gallagher (160) and Dominic Campanalie (152) each reached the third-place match, but came up short. Gallagher (4-14), a senior, lost to Stow’s Nick Planicka, 5-1. Campanalie (12-11), a sophomore, lost to Midpark’s Chris Weber, 5-0.
Jesse Singler (7-6) finished fifth at 220 with a pin in 2:19 over Midpark’s John Hoffman, while freshman Dan Mahoney (14-9) took sixth at 113 to round out the River placers.