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Panthers wrestle at elite event

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

With so many top wrestlers, Franklin Regional isn't shying away from any competiton.

Franklin Regional's wrestling team opened its season last weekend at one of the nation's toughest high school tournaments, the Walsh Ironman at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

The Panthers had three wrestlers — Michael Kemerer, Josh Shields and Josh Maruca — earn top-eight placings at the event, but all of them suffered at least three losses, which shows the high quality of competition at the event. FR finished 23rd out of more than 75 teams in the team standings.

Kemerer, who wrestled up in the 126-pound class, won two matches and advanced to the quarterfinals before falling by a 3-2 decision to Ivan McClay of Massillon Washington (Ohio). Once in the consolation bracket, he advanced to the semifinal before falling to Colton Adams of Scottsbluff (Neb.), 8-2, and losing by fall for the first time as a high schooler to Brock Ervin of Union County (Ky.) to finish sixth.

Shields came even closer to a title at 145 pounds, as he snagged three straight decisions before losing, 8-4, to Jacob Danishek of Dayton Christian (Ohio). He also finished sixth after losing, 3-0, in the fifth-place match against Joey Lavallee of Reno (Nev.).

Maruca was the seventh-place finisher in the 138-pound class, as he also won twice to reach the quarterfinals. His path in the consolation bracket included a win over a section opponent, Justin Alexander of Central Catholic, and he ended his tournament by defeating Ryan Skonieczny of St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) in a tiebreaker, 5-4.

Three other FR wrestlers did enough to earn points for the Panthers in the team score but fell short of the top eight.

Tyler Smith went 3-2 for the weekend, but his run ended with an 8-6 sudden-victory loss in the fourth round of the consolation bracket to P.J. Klee of Blair Academy (N.J.), the eventual team champion.

Justin Rose earned one win on the weekend, as the 195-pounder pinned Cole Theodor of St. Paris Graham (Ohio), while Nate Painter also scored one win in the 160-pound bracket, a 7-2 decision over Dalton Clevenger of Kearney (Mo.).

That win, paired with a bye in the consolation bracket, advanced Painter to the fourth round.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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