Five Panther Wrestlers Earn District Berths
Five Panther Wrestlers Earn District Berths
Last winter, the Euclid Panther wrestling squad posted a rather dismal 3-20 dual meet record. But, oh, how things have changed over the course of a year.
This season, by late January, Coach Mike Turk’s matmen were sporting a very respectable 8-4 mark, 4-0 in the Lake Erie League. And four wrestlers had already chalked up 23 or more victories—seniors Zak Adkins (145 pounds), Dylan Norwood (171), and Lamar Gunter (189), along with junior Rynell Roper (160). Morover, sophomore 130-pounder Darsheed Mustafa owned a 13-7 record.
And guess what? All five of those matmen performed well in the recent sectional wrestling tournament at Willoughby South and advanced to the rugged Division I District tournament at Mentor in late February.
“This is the most district qualifiers we’ve had since 2002,” notes Coach Turk, who has been very pleased with the leadership shown by his three seniors this year. “This is the first year that I’ve had more than one senior on the team,” he explains. “It’s nice to have experienced seniors to show the underclassmen what they have to do to win.”
Surprisingly, it was a junior—Rynell Roper—who stood tallest on the podium at the sectional tourney. He earned runner-up honors after winning his first two matches by a pin and a technical fall. In the semifinals, he won by injury default over Mentor’s Zack Forro, who had beaten him in a dual meet, 3-2. “This time, Rynell really took it to him,” observed Coach Turk. “He was winning 7-1 at the time of the default. And he almost had him pinned.”
In the title match, Roper lost an 8-3 decision to Mayfield’s Tyler Coleman. Nonetheless, he took a splendid 30-4 season mark with him as he headed to the rugged Mentor district.
Earning third-place medals for the Panthers in the sectional were Dylan Norwood and Lamar Gunter, while Zak Adkins and Darsheed Mustafa each finished fourth. The top four in each weight class advanced to the district meet.
Norwood, the lanky 171-pounder who knows how to use his leverage against shorter opponents, won his third-place match with a slick 11-7 decision over Mentor’s Brandon Tunquist. Earlier, he had pinned Eastlake-North’s Brennan Torok in 4:44 to reach the consolation finals. Going into the district competition, Norwood owned a 31-4 season record. Mustafa, who lost his opening bout by a 5-2 score, bounced back in the consolation round with a pin and a 6-5 decision.
One of the most exciting bouts involving a Euclid wrestler was 189-pound Lamar Gunter’s 3-1 overtime victory against Brush’s Mark Dingenary. The two were tied, 1-1, at the end of regulation and both seemed on the verge of exhaustion in the extra period. But when he needed it most, Gunter found an extra burst of energy and ended the bout with a two-point takedown.
“Lamar is a little undersized for the 189-pound weight class,” the coach notes. “But after losing a close match in the semifinals, he regrouped and put that loss behind him and won his third-place match.”
Perhaps the gutsiest performance of the day, however, was turned in by Zak Adkins (145) who finished fourth despite battling a severe bout of the flu. “He did what he had to do to move on,” Coach Turk points out, “but he was pretty sick all day.”
Adkins, one of the Panthers’ top wrestlers all season, boasted a 30-4 record going into the district. His younger brother Jeremy Adkins, a freshman 112-pounder, won two matches by decision in the consolation round before finishing in sixth place. Also placing sixth were Ebrahim Elbagory (103) and heavyweight Linje Ross, who registered a 40-second pin against Mayfield’s Tony Gaydos before losing by decision in a hard-fought consolation semifinal bout.
PHOTO CAPTION: (Photo dropped off at Cheryl’s)
WHO’S AHEAD? – From the look of things, Euclid’s Dylan Norwood (in yellow shirt) appears to be in trouble here in his 171-pound match against a Mentor wrestler at the Division I sectional at Willoughby South. However, Norwood soon regained control and won the bout, 11-7, to place third and advance to the district tournament. (Photo by John Sheridan.)
PHOTO CAPTION: PHOTO A –group photo submitted earlier for use on website. If there is room, please use the photo in the March print edition.
PANTHER MAT ACES – The four Euclid wrestlers shown here with head coach Mike Turk (right) all qualified for the district tournament. From left: Rynell Roper (160), Dylan Norwood (171), Zak Adkins (145), Lamar Gunter (189), and Coach Turk. (Photo by John Sheridan)