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by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
More than one coach stated in the preseason that any team can beat any other team this season when it comes to the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
Hudson found that statement to be true Dec. 20.
Wrestling its River Division opener against North Royalton, the Explorers dropped a 38-31 loss to the Bears on the road.
Hudson fell to 1-5 overall in dual meets and 0-1 in the River Division.
The Explorers won six of the 14 individual bouts in the match.
"On paper, I knew it was going to be a tough matchup," Hudson head coach Joe Caniglia said. "North Royalton has some very good lightweights who were aggressive.
"I was thinking we could probably split seven of the 14 weight classes.
"They won eight of the 14 and it was too much for us to overcome.
"It puts us at 0-1 in the division, which really puts our backs against the wall."
The good news for the Explorers was they got bonus points in all but one of those matches, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Bears.
The key to the victory for North Royalton was its dominance in the lighter weights.
The Bears won the first four bouts of the match and seven of the first eight to take control.
The Herron brothers opened the match with wins for North Royalton as 106-pounder Anthony Herron beat Hadley Vadeyak 4-0 and 113-pounder Andre Herron pinned Erik Johnson.
Bears' state qualifier Dan Bartinelli then scored a technical fall on Hudson 120-pounder Billy Buehl, followed by North Royalton 126-pounder Alec Benedetti beating Chris Motter 4-2.
The Explorers' lone victory in the lighter weights came from 132-pounder Nathan Gregory, who scored a 3-2 victory over the Bears' Xavier Wasco.
However, North Royalton responded with 138-pounder Dane Morgan scoring a decision win over Brandon White, 145-pounder Dylan League defeating Braden Wright by injury default and 152-pounder Cameron Mayell squeezing out a 6-5 win over Sam Semenczuk.
By the time the time the match reached the 160-pound bout, Hudson was staring at a 32-3 deficit.
However, that's when junior Michael Coleman ignited the Explorers' rally.
Coleman needed just 1 minute, 6 seconds to the Bears' Jason Boyland.
That was followed by a 14-3 win from Hudson 170-pounder Ben Krizman.
"Sophomore Ben Krizman continues to improve and develop more confidence," Caniglia said.
"He has tremendous horsepower and just keeps wrestling the whole match no matter what the score is.
"We had talked about the importance of trying to get team bonus points with a major decision, tech fall or pin and he had great effort each period to build his lead and earn a major decision."
After 182-pounder Danny Tiley scored a forfeit win, 195-pounder Zach Vehar needed only 12 seconds to pin his man, cutting the deficit to 32-25.
Hudson had a fighting chance to win the match if 220-pounder Matt Slater won his bout.
However, Slater was pinned in 3:39 by North Royalton's Garrett Snyder, which clinched the match for the Bears.
Explorers' heavyweight Pete Mougey closed the match on an up note for Hudson after pinning Luke Senko in 2:25.
"This will really test the character of this team," Caniglia said.
"We are going to find out what kind of heart and determination this team has. Last year, we lost the first division dual and ended up winning the division.
"So it is not impossible, but it is going to be a real challenge."
Hudson is scheduled to participate in the Medina Invitational Tournament Dec. 28 and 29. The action is set to begin Dec. 28 at 8 a.m.
"We are excited about the opportunity to compete there," Caniglia said.
"We made a decision at the end of last season to get back into a major holiday tournament to test our kids. This is the kind of tournament where if you can place high, you should be placing at the state tournament."