Comets building with freshman, sophomore classes

J. Patrick Eaken

Last year, Genoa wrestling went 8-28 in dual meets, finished seventh in the Northern Buckeye Conference, eighth at the Division III sectional tournament and 26th at the district meet.

It was only three years ago when Genoa won four state championships in two years, so you knew that under coach Bob Bergman the Comets would be back. They are.

Still, it’s a young team composed of 20 freshmen and sophomores, two juniors and three seniors, and if you ask coaches, they are one of six, maybe seven teams that could be in the mix for an NBC championship this year.

“We hope to be competitive in the upper half of the NBC,” Bergman said. “The NBC is always full of talent from top to bottom. Our lower weights are a strong area for us. That is where we return our most experienced wrestlers. 

“Learning how to compete for a full six minutes is ultra-important for our youngsters.” Bergman continued.  “Understanding that there is honor in going the distance and preventing bonus points in dual meets is just as important as it is for our more experienced guys to get them for us.” 

Despite the Comets being so young, they still return seven lettermen. The starting lineup includes no seniors, but only two weight classes cannot be filled yet — 113 and 190. 

From lower to upper weight classes, you have freshman Brogan Moon (106), freshman Phoenix Contos (120), sophomore Noah Tipton (126)_sophomore Nate Tipton (132), freshman Xavier Arriaga (138), freshman Zavier Materni (144), junior Baily Everhardt (150), junior Zach Bierbaum (157), sophomore Tyler Harper (150), sophomore Luke Erwin (175), sophomore Ethan Crawford (215) and sophomore Kevin Ludwig (285).

Noah Tipton was second in the NBC last year at 113, Nate Tipton third at 120, and Colin Brazelton (170) and Crawford (220) finished fourth. Brazelton, a returning letter winner, Crawford and Noah Tipton were district qualifiers.

It is the freshmen, Contos, who comes in with the biggest accolades. In 2021, he was a Fargo (North Dakota) All-American in Greco-Roman wrestling, an OAC middle school state champion, and a Team USA Pan-American Games Silver Medalist in Greco-Roman and freestyle. He is ranked fourth in the state in Division III this year.

Contos, who hails from a nationally-recognized wrestling family, the Tipton twins, and Crawford, are expected to lead a team that has a bright future in coming years.

“All are returning placers for us and have high expectations,” Bergman said. “The Tiptons will not be outworked.  Crawford is cerebral and loves to compete. Contos is special.  He is a prime example of what hard work and talent aligned looks like.”

Bergman’s most improved include two freshmen, Materni and Arriaga, along with Harper.

“Both Zaviers (including Xavier Arriaga) are extremely committed, hard working and ultra competitive.  They do all the extra things in season and out of season to be successful,” Bergman said. “Tyler Harper is coming into his own. He has great leverage, Improved strength and a never say die attitude.”

Two of his heavier wrestlers are “coming into their own,” too, says Bergman.

“Our heavyweight tandem of Kevin Ludwig  and John Shinaver are special,” Bergman said. “Both are total team players. They work hard, pay attention to details and get better each time they compete.”

The Comets are currently 2-3 in dual meets. However, the Comets have already started on the right foot, taking down the team many expected to win an NBC championship.

The Comets upended defending NBC champion Elmwood 40-30 in a barnburner opening season NBC dual meet. The Genoa’s matmen were able to pin five Royals to upend the preseason NBC favorite. The Royals, to their defense, have two top wrestlers out with football injuries.  

Genoa’s young men of the mat strived to keep the momentum going against host Eastwood but dipped to the Eagles, 48-24.  

Winning matches for the Comets were Materni, Everhardt, Mario Torres, Brogan Moon.  Double winners for the Comets were Noah Tipton, Nate Tipton, Crawford and Harper. In NBC wrestling,  Genoa also defeated Lake 36-33, but lost to Woodmore, 39-33.

In addition, Nathan Tipton motored his way to a championship at 132 pounds for the Comets at the 46th annual Bob Baily Invitation at Bellevue High School.  Genoa’s matmen placed 13 wrestlers; scored 199 points and took home third place honors in the 10-team field. 

Placing second were Moon (106) and Torres (120). Noah Tipton (126), Arriaga (138) and Everhardt (150) were third, Materni (144), Ben Myers (150) and Bierbaum (157) and Erwin (175) were fourth, and Luciano Mendez (150), Harper (165) and Crawford (285) placed fifth.




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