BAINBRIDGE TOWNSHIP -- Job one for the Hudson wrestling team at the sectional tournament was simple: Advance as many wrestlers as it could to the district tournament by placing in the top four spots.
In that regard, the Explorers had a very good day Feb. 25 at the Division I sectional tournament at Kenston High School in Bainbridge Township.
Hudson advanced seven wrestlers on to the district competition, as the Explorers finished sixth in the 11-team race with 137.5 points. Austintown-Fitch won the team title with 223.5 points.
However, Hudson head coach Joe Caniglia knew that placement at sectionals would be important, given the strength of the upcoming district tournament at North Canton Hoover.
In that regard, the Explorers struggled -- with one notable exception.
Senior 182-pounder Kyle Minor won his weight class, setting himself up perfectly for districts. He was one of three Explorers to reach the title match at Kenston.
Overall, Caniglia was happy with what he saw from his team.
"I'm very pleased with the way we wrestled," he a said. "We worked on some situational wrestling this week and the kids applied themselves. The kids wrestled well and stayed aggressive, which is what we ask."
Minor was given the top seed at 182 pounds and wrestled like the favorite. He pinned his way to the final, sticking Kent Roosevelt's Bradley McMullen in 1 minute, 41 seconds, pinning Walsh Jesuit's Robbie Salek in 1 minute and downing Fitch's Breylon Douglas in 4:42.
In the final, Minor nearly pinned Boardman's Carlo DeNiro, but ended up with an 8-2 win and the title.
"It was pretty important for me to win the final," Minor said. "It will give me a good draw for districts, where I won't run into another one seed in the semifinal. It's my last year. I'm going to give it all I can."
Junior 132-pounder Dietrich Boysel earned his second straight trip to the districts by reaching the final.
Boysel opened by pinning Cleveland John Adams' Derrick Burrage in 1:43 and then scored an 8-4 win over second-seeded Marco Parry of Fitch to reach the final.
However, in the final, Boysel ran into defending state runner-up Matt Fields of Walsh. Fields showed off his riding skills on his way to a 16-3 major decision win over Boysel.
The nicest surprise of the tournament for Hudson was the performance of sophomore 145-pounder John Sweet, who came into the tournament unseeded. Sweet ended up reaching the final.
After opening with a 15-0 technical fall over Stow-Munroe Falls' John Rossi, Sweet pulled off two upsets to reach the final. He defeated second-seeded Davon Yong of John Adams 9-4 and then took down Fitch's John Sweet 4-1 in the semifinal.
Sweet ran out of magic in the final, as he was pinned in 5:53 by Walsh Jesuit's Will Schmidt, but Caniglia wasn't complaining.
"I'm just so ecstatic for John Sweet," Caniglia said. "He has been so close all year, but just couldn't get over the hump. He put together a great tournament."
The Explorers' four other district qualifiers all took fourth place. They included junior 120-pounder Joe Graf, senior 160-pounder Austin Mullen, sophomore 170-pounder Michael Caniglia and junior 285-pounder Jack Nord.
Joe Caniglia admitted it was a bit difficult for him to switch from dad to coach when reflecting on his son reaching districts for the first time.
"After all these years it's tough," Joe Caniglia, said with a smile.
Caniglia and several other coaches noted the North Canton Hoover district tournament will be meat grinder. Wrestling begins at 5 p.m. March 3 at Hoover and resumes March 4 at 9 a.m. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state competition.