MANSFIELD — Clear Fork wrestling coach Nick Allerding knows the value of the J.C. Gorman Invitational.
“It’s a good mid-season evaluation for your wrestlers and your team,” Allerding said Saturday evening as final matches in the 56th version played out at Mansfield Senior’s Pete Henry Gym.
“This is a deep tournament … it’s the real deal,” Allerding said of the 36-team field. “There are a lot of tough kids here and it gives us a chance to see where we are. We knew we would see tough competition.
“These are the kids we will see at sectionals, district and state. These kinds of matches will help us be prepared,” Allerding said.
The Colts, with three top-eight finishes, finished 18th in the team scoring with 68 points, the third-best team finish among Richland County schools.
Ashland, with eight top-eight individual finishes, won the team title with 200 points. Bay and Norton tied for second with 145.
Richland County teams included Crestview (5th), Madison (16th), Shelby (19th), Ontario (20th), Mansfield Senior (21st) and Lexington (26th).
Clear Fork senior John Witschi (19-4) had the best result for the Colts, finishing fourth at 170 pounds. Witschi posted a 4-2 record during the tournament, pinned in his final match for 3rd/4th place to Ashland’s Jakob Beverly. Witschi recorded two pins and a major decision during the two-day event.
Fellow senior Garrett Crowner (21-2) suffered his first losses of the season, but still managed to finish fifth in a loaded 145-pound field. Crowner posted a 3-2 record in the tournament, winning his last match by 9-4 decision over Orrville’s Wyatt Zimmerman.
One of Crower’s two losses came in the semifinals via pin against eventual champion Conan Becker of Northmor, a two-time state placer.
“Tough kids, tough matches, Some matches I should have won, but I think I wrestled pretty well,” Crowner said.
The final Clear Fork placer was sophomore Mike Morganstern (20-2), who finished eighth at 126 pounds. Morganstern battled illness during the event, winning his first two matches by pin before dropping two decisions and forfeiting his final two matches.
Other Colt wrestlers who won at least two matches in the tournament were Trey Back (132 pounds), Brady Au (138 pounds) and Blake Miller (195 pounds).
Clear Fork wrestles this weekend in the 27-team Marion County tournament. Looming ahead is the Colts’ first participation the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference meet Feb. 17 at Galion.
“The schools are comparable in size to us, but there are good teams and it will be a good competition,” Allerding said. “I think if we wrestle well, we have a chance to place well as a team.”