The 55th edition of the nation’s oldest continuous running holiday tournament returned to Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School on Tuesday, December 29 and Wednesday, December 30.
The annual Brecksville Holiday Tournament was a milestone event with a record 49 schools assembled for this perennially excellent clash of top teams from Ohio and elsewhere.
This year’s field included 20 programs from northeast Ohio doing battle with a diverse field of teams from across Ohio, two from the state of Michigan, and one from Pennsylvania.
Featured in the field were 124 wrestlers that have previously appeared in a state wrestling tournament. This includes fifteen wrestlers that were state champions in 2015: Caleb Yates (Anthony Wayne); A.J. Facundo (Davison, Mich.); Tommy Hoskins and Logan Lacure (Dayton Christian); Drew Mattin, Jake Spiess, and Chance Veller (Delta); Brandon Whitman (Dundee, Mich.); Ben Darmstadt (Elyria); Kaleb Romero (Mechanicsburg); Kyle Lawson (Olentangy Liberty); Matt Stencel (Oregon Clay); Josh Venia (Toledo Central Catholic); and Andrew McNally (Uniontown Lake).
When the dust settled, it was host Brecksville who won the team title, followed by Delta and then Elyria. Fans has to wonder if Elyria would have taken the crown had returning state and Brecksville champ Kevin Vough (285) been in the lineup instead of continuing to rehab a football injury.
Elyria’s Ben Darmstadt won a battle of state champions in the last match of the night, a featured battle at 195 pounds. He met Michigan standout Brandon Whitman of Dundee and posted an 8-4 decision to repeat as a Brecksville champ. Darmstadt trailed going into the third period but scored a reversal and parlayed his position into back points to seal the deal.
Darmstadt, who is headed to Cornell, was one of seven northeast Ohio wrestlers to reach the finals, but the only one to win. Taking seconds were CVCA’s Jordan Decatur (113), Padua’s Tony Decesare (120) and Eric Frasnacht (170), Brecksville’s Marco Regalbuto (126), Elyria’s J.T. Brown (182) and Willoughby South’s Nik Urban (285).
Brecksville, which last won the tournament in 2013, had eight placers to edge Delta – last year’s team champ – for the team title, 194.5-194. Delta had six placers and went 3-1 in the finals.
Elyria was third (176.5), finishing with seven placers.